In the heart of the region of Castille and Leon, lies one of the most historic cities in Spain: Valladolid. The city has been home to kings, poets, dramatists, perfectly preserved medieval architecture and, of course, a passion for good football. It is also the hometown of Real Valladolid, one of the clubs with the longest history in LaLiga Santander.
After an extraordinary promotion in their LaLiga campaign of 2017/18, the club managed to avoid relegation on the penultimate match day to extend their stay in the league for another year. It was a rapturous end to the season for Los Pucelanos, as Valladolid fans are known, who filled the stands of their beloved José Zorrilla stadium throughout the season.
The stadium is named in honour of Jose Zorilla, an iconic 19th century Spanish playwright and poet who also gave his name to the club's former stadium, the old Estadio de Zorrilla (1940-1982). The club's move to their new stadium saw them become a force to be reckoned with in the top tier. Their total of 43 seasons in the top tier is 13th all-time among all clubs in Spain.
The Jose Zorrilla is one of those stadiums that all Spanish football fans recognise at first glance thanks to the characteristic violet stands. Many associate these stands with spending a very cold afternoon watching football.
The club's manager back in the early 1980s baptised the ground as "the pneumonia stadium" when there was still a gap in the north end and an icy wind would enter the playing field.
But don't think for one minute that the Jose Zorrilla chill deters the Valladolid faithful from supporting their team at every home game.
Last season, the bond between the team and the supporters was as strong as it's ever been. The 20,000 plus seasons ticket sold were a historic high in the club's illustrious 90-year history.
The capacity of the José Zorrilla has been increased this summer from over 26,000 to over 28,000.
The stadium's remodelling was one of the first measures taken by the club's new owner, who took over in the summer of 2018.
Some say he was merely a 'great player' back in his playing days, but most consider him one of the greatest of all time.
Ronaldo Nazario, or 'O fenômeno,' until recently the World Cup's all-time top goalscorer, kicked off his ownership of the club with a remarkable season.
Apart from stabilising the club so that the team could focus on its football, Ronaldo has put Real Valladoid in the spotlight by improving relations with other clubs and growing its international profile.
If only a sliver of his talent rubs off on the club's strikers, visitors to the Jose Zorilla better watch out!