Vicente Rodríguez Guillén ([biˈθente roˈðɾiɣeθ ɣiˈʎen]; born 16 July 1981), known simply as Vicente, nicknamed El puñal de Benicalap (The dagger of Benicalap), is a Spanish retired footballer.
A left winger with outstanding technique, pace and netting ability, his professional career, blighted by constant injuries, was mainly associated with Valencia with which he appeared in 340 competitive matches over 11 seasons, winning five major titles including two La Liga championships.
Vicente represented Spain during the first half of the 2000s, and played at Euro 2004.
A Valencia CF supporter since childhood, Valencia-born Vicente started his professional career in the community with Segunda División side Levante UD, making his professional debut on 23 November 1997 against CD Leganés aged only 16.
He immediately attracted attention of leading teams like Arsenal, Valencia CF and Real Madrid but, eventually, Valencia (and its sporting director Javier Subirats) convinced the youngster to sign for the club.
After two full seasons at Levante, Vicente signed for Valencia in the summer of 2000. Initially, his favoured position of left winger was occupied by Argentine Kily González but, despite serious contention for a first-team place, he still managed to net five goals in 33 La Liga games, adding 13 appearances in the season's UEFA Champions League although he was left on the bench for the final against FC Bayern Munich.
The arrival of Rafael Benítez as coach in 2001–02 would mark Vicente's opportunity to prove himself, and he did not disappoint as his progress led to the club's first league title in over 30 years. While appearing in fewer games (31, with one goal) he was already first-choice, and produced similar numbers in the following campaign, netting his only goal in a 3–0 home win over Recreativo de Huelva.
2003–04 was Vicente's finest season with the club as his energetic efforts propelled the Che to their second league title under Benítez, adding two goals in seven matches in the team's victorious run in the UEFA Cup, including one in the final where he also assisted Mista in the second (the pair combined for 30 league goals, 12 from Vicente, a career-best, with Francisco Rufete pitching in from the right flank).
After a productive year, Vicente was linked with a host of important clubs, but turned down any eventual move and signed a further four-year extension, stating: "I'm happy to remain at Valencia because I was born here and it's my home." In the 2004–05 season, however, under the management of Claudio Ranieri, his forays down the wing appeared stagnated as the coach opted to favour fellow Italian Emiliano Moretti to provide support for him rather than to let him have a free role along the left – furthermore, ankle injuries hindered his campaign and he spent much of the beginning on the sidelines. As he returned, the manager had already been sacked, Valencia ranked seventh and he only appeared in 12 league matches; in the following year more of the same, as the side finished 11 points behind eventual champions FC Barcelona and he was again bothered by an ankle condition.
–Claudio Ranieri, former Valencia manager.
Vicente was again often injured in 2006–07, most notably in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final clash with Chelsea which ended his campaign. The English won that tie 3–2 on aggregate while the player only took part in 16 league matches, with his team ending fourth.
Vicente made an impressive comeback, scoring the first goal in Valencia's 3–0 win against IF Elfsborg in the Champions League third qualifying round at the Mestalla Stadium. However, another injury occurred shortly after, this time during training, and he would end up spending another large spell in the sidelines, being limited to just 17 appearances in the league.
Disappointed, the player publicly blamed the medical staff for his continuing injuries:
"My morale is very low. I’ve lost all confidence in the medical staff, that's it. I’ve been defending them for the last two years, but I don’t see any of this situation improving, when I’m still not recovered from one injury I get worse, or suffer from another one. They give me an injection and then I can’t move myself for a week because of the pain".
"On top of this, then they tell me maybe my injury doesn’t exist, and it is psychological. It's very hard, I can’t stand it any longer. I’ve lost all confidence in the doctor, but I don’t want to be bad to anyone, but the person who loses the most is me, because I can neither play football nor help my teammates. I only ask to play twenty minutes in one go.
"That is the worst part about it all, to know that when I have the opportunity to play with good health, things turn out well for me, and I play well, I can help the team," he concluded.
Valencia responded that they would open disciplinary proceedings against Vicente after these statements, citing: 'The club will take the necessary action against the player depending on whether his conduct is considered a 'serious' or 'very serious' offence under internal regulations'. The "injury saga" came to an end when the player was fined €1,200 following controversial remarks made regarding the club's medical staff.
In 2008–09, although playing fewer minutes, Vicente was able to contribute more regularly, while competing for first-choice status with young Juan Mata. He came from the bench in the season opener, a 3–0 home win over RCD Mallorca, and, majorly used as a substitute (usually for Mata) during the season, still contributed with six league goals.
Vicente's fitness problems persisted in the following campaign, as he only made his first appearance on 6 January 2010, replacing Mata for the final 15 minutes of a 1–2 home loss against Deportivo de La Coruña in the first leg of the Copa del Rey's round-of-16. He still managed to take part in 11 league games, slowly trying to regain his best form; aged 29, he was released by the club after a link that lasted 11 years.
Brighton & Hove Albion
On 2 September 2011, Vicente signed a one-year deal with Football League Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion. On the 21st, he made his official debut for the club, in a 1–2 home loss against Liverpool for the season's Football League Cup, winning a penalty which resulted in the Ashley Barnes goal.
Vicente scored his first goal for Brighton in a 1–3 away defeat against Ipswich Town, on 1 October 2011. However, he was afflicted by injury soon after, and was out for over three months. He returned on 4 February 2012 to provide the assist for Will Buckley's winning goal in a 1–0 victory over Leicester City; the following weekend, also from the bench, he set up two goals in a 2–1 win against Leeds United at Elland Road.
On 10 March 2012, Brighton beat Portsmouth 2–0 at home, with Vicente scoring a brace – including one from a low free kick – lifting his team into the play-off places and stretching its unbeaten run to 12 games. On 16 May of the following year, after only 12 appearances during the season, he was released alongside Gary Dicker and Marcos Painter; following his departure he described his former boss, Gustavo Poyet, as “the worst person I’ve come across in football”, “selfish” and “egocentric”.
On 17 April 2014, Vicente announced his retirement from football. In January 2016, he returned to work with Valencia as a member of the technical staff.
Vicente made his debut for Spain in a friendly against France on 28 March 2001, replacing Pedro Munitis in the 72nd minute of a 2–1 win at the Mestalla. He was overlooked for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.
Vicente appeared in his first major tournament at the UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal, playing in three complete group stage matches. Constant injuries would mean he would also fail to make the final cut for the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
|Brighton & Hove Albion||2011–12||17||3||2||0||0||0||19||3|
|1.||19 November 2003||Ullevaal, Oslo, Norway||Norway||0–2||0–3||Euro 2004 qualifying|
|2.||8 September 2004||Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina||Bosnia and Herzegovina||0–1||1–1||2006 World Cup qualification|
|3.||17 August 2005||El Molinón, Gijón, Spain||Uruguay||2–0||2–0||Friendly|
- La Liga: 2001–02, 2003–04
- Copa del Rey: 2007–08
- UEFA Cup: 2003–04
- UEFA Super Cup: 2004