Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, S.A.D. (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈraʝo βaʎeˈkano ðe maˈðɾið]), often abbreviated to Rayo, is a Spanish football team based in Madrid, in the neighbourhood of Vallecas. Founded on 29 May 1924, the club currently plays in Segunda División, Spain's second tier division. Home games are held at the 14,708-seater Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas stadium.
Rayo has competed in one European competition, the UEFA Cup in the 2000–01 season. The club made it to the quarter-finals before losing to fellow countrymen Deportivo Alavés 4–2 on aggregate.
Rayo Vallecano saw the light of day on 29 May 1924 in the hometown of Prudencia Priego, wife of the club's first president Julián Huerta. Greatly inspired by River Plate (a Football club from Argentina), in 1949, after an agreement with Atlético Madrid, a red diagonal stripe was added to the team's kit, and the club reached Tercera División for the first time in its history.
One of the perennial yo-yo clubs of Spanish football, and always in the shadow of the two biggest clubs in the city (Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid), Rayo Vallecano spent many years during the 1980s and 1990s moving back and forth between La Liga and Segunda División. They appeared to have consolidated their top flight status after gaining promotion in 1999, and the team's most successful season came in 2000–01 when they reached the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup, going out only to eventual runners-up Deportivo Alavés; Rayo finished ninth in the previous campaign, but entered the competition via the fair play draw.
Rayo finished the 2006–07 season in second place in Segunda División B, winning the promotion play-off semifinal but losing in the final to SD Eibar (1–2 aggregate). The following campaign, the team returned to division two after a four-year absence after a victorious run in the playoffs, disposing of Benidorm CF in the semifinal and Zamora CF in the last game 2–1 on aggregate.
In the first season back in the second tier of Spanish football, Rayo finished comfortably, often either in or just outside the promotion places. That same year, its women's team was crowned league champions for the first time, thereby qualifying for the UEFA Women's Champions League, but was eliminated 2–5 on aggregate in the round-of-32 by Russia's WFC Rossiyanka.
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