Spanish LaLiga outfit Deportivo Alaves are celebrating their centenary season, and club captain Manu Garcia has said that remaining in the top flight is a privilege despite them being a 'modest' club.
Alaves, founded on 23 January 1921, have not had much success over the years having spent most of the seasons outside the top-flight. Their most memorable achievement to date remains the UEFA Cup final in 2000-01, where they narrowly lost to eventual champions Liverpool 5-4 after extra time.
Recently, Alaves even reached the Copa Del Rey final in 2016-17, where they lost 3-1 to Barcelona with Lionel Messi and Neymar scoring a goal each.
"As I said, we've lived highs and lows throughout our history. We've spent most of our history outside the top flight but we've seen some great moments. For a modest club like ours to live a successful period like the one we're living now is a privilege," Garcia said.
"We have to be very happy with where we are. Every year we spend in the top flight helps consolidate our position and strengthen the foundations for a better future," he added.
Garcia credited his club's unwavering supporters, even during the tough times.
"The connection between city and club has grown stronger in recent years. People identify more with Alaves. As a club we've lived through very good and very bad times, but our support has never wavered," the 34-year-old central midfielder continued.
"And that's what allowed us to reach where we are today. I believe that we're going through one of the best periods in our history and it's a privilege to be a part of it."
The club is owned by Baskonia Group, and the home ground, Mendizorrotza Stadium, is the second oldest ground in LaLiga, having been inaugurated in 1924. Only Valencia CF's Mestalla Stadium is older than Alaves', having been opened a year earlier in 1923.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic meant that matches had to be played behind closed doors, but Garcia was hopeful of fans returning soon.
"It's an important year for the club. It's a lot of years of history, and to be able to mark the centenary in the top tier is a great thing for us. The pandemic is a tragedy, hopefully we can find a way out of it soon and we can celebrate with the city and the fans as they deserve," the former Spain U-17 player added.
Alaves have been a permanent figure in the LaLiga since 2016-17 after winning back promotion in 2015-16, but now find themselves in the relegation zone (18th with 22 points), above 19th placed Elche and bottom-dwellers SD Huesca.
They next face sixth-placed Real Betis in the league on 9 March as they hope to avoid relegation to the second division.