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2002-2003 Season

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It was Málaga Club de Fútbol’s best ever campaign in its history. The blue and white squad was inscribed in the Intertoto Cup, the summer competition that gave access to play in the UEFA Cup and as a result participate for the first time as a club in European competitions. In his last year as head coach, Peiró counted on a nucleus of players from the previous season as well as a thriving group of young players from Málaga B, (Alexis, Juan Rodriguez, Nacho, Koke...), that at the same time managed to win an historic promotion to the Silver League under the guidance of Antonio Tapia.

The success of the youth teams was confirmed when the likes of Perico, Ado, Gámez and company won Spain’s Youth Champion Division of Honour. The first team started full pelt. Ghent, Willem II and Villarreal, fell victim to Málaga’s good performance which allowed Mikel Roteta to lift the Intertoto cup, the club’s first trophy since it was re established. Málaga prepared well and was well rounded and strong, ready to start the League Championship. It was an unforgettable debut in Huelva, with Kiki Musampa getting a hat trick after going down 2 – 0.

All the while continuing to enjoy Europe. Zeljeznicar, Amika Wroncki, the historic English Club Leeds United, (it was a magical double from Dely in Elland Road) and AEK Athens (a great goal by Manu Sánchez in Greece, that 0 – 1 put Málaga through to the quarterfinals) which kept the dream alive of being the first Andalucian outfit to reach the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup. Until the elimination against Boavista in Portugal when Málaga’s fate was decided in the penalty shoot out, something that was always the downfall of the defunct Club Deportivo Málaga. Curiously, one of the symbols of change in the club was that famous ‘From Adra to Athens’; the great captain Francis Bravo, who was one of those who missed a penalty.

Understandably, the effort of taking part in he UEFA meant that Peiró’s men lost momentum in the final run of the championship. They finished 13th which remained in the background due to the fact that it was the traumatic end of Málaga’s brilliant veteran coach who did not travel to Mallorca for the last match of the season because of a disagreement with the management. Instead Añon acted as coach. Still, the taste of Europe and the sensation of seeing Málaga among the big groups on the continent will always remain fresh in the memories of the malaguistas.

Top goal scorers in the League were Darío Silva and Dely Valdes with ten goals. The Panamanian forward scored another ten goals in the European competition. (five goals in the Intertoto and five in UEFA) and one more goal in the Kings Cup, a total of 21 goals in four competitions that the blue and whites took part in.