Athletic Bilbao

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Athletic Bilbao
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Basic data
Surname Athletic Club
Seat Bilbao , Spain
founding 1898
Colours Red White
president Aitor Elizegi
First soccer team
Head coach Gaizka Garitano
Venue San Mamés
Places 53,289
league Primera División
2019/20 11th place

The Athletic Club , known in German-speaking countries as Athletic Bilbao , is a football club from the Basque Country in Spain that plays in the Primera División .

Since the league was founded in 1928, the Primera División has consistently been top notch and has won the championship eight times. Athletic is in fourth place in the “all-time table” and, alongside Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, ​​is the only team that has never been relegated. The Spanish Cup ( Copa del Rey ) has been won 24 times; only in 2009 this record was exceeded by FC Barcelona.

The nickname of the players in Spain "Los Leones" ( the lions ) is derived from the patron saint of the stadium " San Mamés ", the Holy Mamas . Mamas was a Christian whom the Romans threw the lions to eat. However, the lions did not eat Mamas and left him unharmed, which is why he was later canonized. The San Mamés was built next to a church and is therefore also called the “cathedral of football”.

Athletic Bilbao stands for the policy of only using players who either come from the Basque provinces of Bizkaia , Gipuzkoa , Álava and Navarra (all Spain), Labourd , Soule and Nieder-Navarra (all France ) or in the youth of a football club from these provinces were trained. Bilbao's players show great loyalty to the club and sometimes spend their entire career in red and white jerseys ( Rojiblancos ).


Coat of arms from 1903 to 1907


The football was in Bilbao introduced by two different groups of young players, both connections to the "motherland of football" ( England ) were: British Steel and shipyard workers and Basque students returning from British schools.

In the late 19th century , Bilbao was one of the most important port cities in Spain and, with its mines and shipyards, one of the most important industrial regions in the country. The city was a motor of the Spanish economy and therefore attracted a large number of foreign workers. These included many miners from the north-east of England and shipyard workers from Sunderland , Southampton and Portsmouth . These British workers brought football with them and founded the Bilbao Football Club in the early 1890s . Meanwhile, Basque students went the opposite way, went to the UK to where universities to visit. Here they came into contact with football, which they imported after their return. In 1898, students at the Zamacois grammar school founded the Athletic Club , based on the English spelling.

In 1902, both clubs sent a joint team (called Vizcaya ) into the race for the first ever Copa del Rey . They returned with the trophy after defeating FC Barcelona in the final. That is why it was decided in 1903 to merge both clubs to form the Athletic Club .

The date the club was founded is part of a lively discussion among football historians. The association states 1898 as the year of foundation, while others state 1901 or 1903 as the year the association was founded.

Successful years (1903 to 1941)

Coat of arms from 1911 to 1941

In 1903, the newly founded Athletic Club again won the Copa del Rey and was declared the winner the following year after the opponent Club Español de Madrid had not started. After another victory in 1911, Bilbao won the cup three times in a row between 1914 and 1916. The star of this team was the legendary striker Pichichi , who scored the first goal ever in San Mamés on August 21, 1913 and followed a hat trick in the final of the 1915 Copa del Rey . Today the best goalscorer in the Spanish league receives the trophy named after Pichichi ( Pichichi Trophy ). In 1912 the rule was brought into being, according to which only Basques are allowed to play for the team.

When the Primera División was launched in 1928, three other Basque teams took part alongside Athletic: Real Sociedad , Real Unión Irún and Arenas Club de Getxo . When Deportivo Alavés followed suit in 1930 , five out of ten clubs in the league were from the Basque Country. In 1929 the Englishman Fred Pentland took over the coaching position at Bilbao for the second time (first time from 1921 to 1927) and revolutionized the team by teaching it the short passing game. He led the team to two Double -Siegen 1930 and 1931 and four victories in the Copa del Rey between 1930 and 1933. During this time, the FC Barcelona at 12: 1 was added to the heaviest defeat ever. After two more championship titles in 1934 and 1936 , Bilbao had taken first place four times in the first eight years of the league.

Atlético Bilbao (1941 to 1974)

Coat of arms from 1941 to 1972

After a decree by the Spanish dictator Franco , the club had to change its name to Atlético Bilbao in 1941, as foreign names were banned in the league. In the same year, Zarra made his debut, the best goalscorer in the club's history. In thirteen years he scored 333 competitive goals. Another great player of that era was José Luis Panizo . In 1943 the team won another double, in 1944 and 1945 the trophy (now Copa del Generalisimo).

In the fifties, the club was able to come up with the legendary attack series around Zarra , José Luis Panizo , Rafael Iriondo , Venancio Pérez García and Agustín Gaínza . After Ferdinand Daučík, one of the best coaches in the country, took over Athletic, other titles were not long in coming: Double 1956 , Cup 1955 and 1958.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Madrid and Barcelona dominated Spanish football, while Bilbao found themselves mostly in the middle of the table. Only the Copa del Generalisimo could be won twice in 1969 and 1973.

Return to Athletic Bilbao and politicization

In December 1975, Bilbao faced local rivals Real Sociedad from San Sebastián . Took before kickoff Bilbao goalkeeper legend Jose Angel Iribar and sociedads captain Ignacio Kortabarria the Ikurriña (flag of the Basque Country) and put them solemnly in the Anstoßpunkt. This was the first public display of the flag, which had been banned for 40 years, after Franco's death.

Another milestone in the club's history was the participation in the final of the UEFA Cup in 1977. On the way there, the team eliminated two top European clubs, FC Barcelona and AC Milan . However, they finally lost the final after 2-2 on aggregate due to the away goals rule against Juventus Turin .

The Clemente era

In 1981, Javier Clemente became the new head coach, adding to the veterans Dani and Andoni Goikoetxea young players such as Santiago Urkiaga , Miguel De Andres , Ismael Urtubi , Estanislao Argote and Andoni Zubizarreta . It was an excellent mix because Bilbao could finally be counted among the top teams again. In 1983 the team became champions, and in 1984 even the double followed. Clemente played very defensively, for which he was heavily criticized, but which was effective. In addition, the Basques were known for their aggressive and tough game, which was particularly personified by the defender Goikoetxea. After Clemente's departure, many top players left the club; then no further important title could be won, although well-known and successful coaches worked in Bilbao, u. a. José Ángel Iribar , Howard Kendall , Jupp Heynckes or Javier Irureta .

The Fernández era

The club tried in vain to build on the successes of the early eighties, which only roughly succeeded under Luis Fernández . He led the team to the runner-up in 1998 and thus to the Champions League for the first time . Fernández benefited from a relaxed personnel policy that allowed him to sign players who were trained in youth teams in Basque territory ( Patxi Ferreira , Biurrun ). For the first time, a Basque from the French part of the region was used with Bixente Lizarazu . As always, the youth department delivered an excellent individual player with Julen Guerrero .

Recent developments

The old
San Mamés stadium
New construction of the
San Mamés stadium
The headquarters of the club, the Ibaigane Palace

After that, things gradually calmed down for the club from the Basque Country, which disappeared back into midfield of the league. Before the 2005/06 season Athletic had to accept the loss of the two top performers Asier del Horno and Santiago Ezquerro , who moved to Chelsea and FC Barcelona . Athletic was only able to save itself from relegation on matchday 37. Before the 2006/07 season , veteran Julen Guerrero ended his active career and moved to the coaching staff.

Since coach Javier Clemente did not agree with the purchased players, they split up and hired Félix Sarriugarte as their successor, who was replaced after half the season by José Manuel Esnal (Mané) because he could not achieve the necessary results. The club finally secured relegation only on the last day of the match with a 2-0 home win against UD Levante . The return of defender Asier del Horno before the 2007/08 season on loan from Valencia CF did not bring the desired success, so the purchase option was not used. Nevertheless, this season was ultimately more successful than the previous one, the qualification for the UI Cup was only missed on the last match day. With this season began the final breakthrough of Fernando Llorente , who had long been traded as a great storm talent , who finally scored eleven goals this season and became a key figure in Athletics' offensive game. In autumn 2008 he, like defender Andoni Iraola , was nominated for the first time for the Spanish national soccer team . At the end of the 2008/09 season they reached the final in the Copa del Rey, which they lost to FC Barcelona , previously champions and Champions League winners . This qualified the team to participate in the qualification for the newly founded UEFA Europa League, in which they qualified after games against Tromsø IL . In a group with FK Austria Wien , Werder Bremen - last year UEFA Cup finalist - and Nacional Funchal they finished second behind Werder and were eliminated in the round of 32 against RSC Anderlecht .

Exterior view of the new stadium

On June 25, 2010, construction began on the San Mamés Barria stadium, which since its completion in 2013 has seated 53,332 spectators. On May 9, 2012, the Basques were in a European Cup final for the first time since 1977. In the previous rounds they faced FC Red Bull Salzburg , Paris Saint-Germain and Metalist Charkiw (all group stages) and Lokomotiv Moscow (round of sixteen) as well as well-known opponents such as Manchester United (round of 16), FC Schalke 04 (quarter-finals) and Sporting Lisbon ( Semi-finals). In the first leg against Schalke 04 they converted a 1: 2 deficit in the last twenty minutes into a 4: 2. The team had to admit defeat to league rivals Atlético Madrid 3-0 in the final of the UEFA Europa League under their Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa .

In August 2014, the Basques qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 1998 ; against SSC Napoli they prevailed in the play-offs.


Just as controversial as the exact date the club was founded is the origin of the club colors. The first jerseys were blue and white, but changed to red and white vertical stripes in 1910. Three different theories are put forward for this change:

  • The AFC Sunderland and Southampton FC played in identical jerseys and were simply copied from the English footballers in Bilbao.
  • Athletic sent a member to the UK to buy blue and white jerseys. However, he could not find any and therefore returned from Southampton with red and white stripes.
  • The most likely theory is that red and white jerseys were used because they could be made very cheaply from mattress covers.

Athletic was one of the last teams in European club football to play on the jersey without a sponsor. It was not until 2004/05 that jerseys with a green Euskadi print were used in the Copa del Rey and UEFA Cup . Sponsor was the Basque regional government (red, white and green are the national colors).

In 2008 the club's management finally abandoned this policy, and Petronor (subsidiary of the oil company Repsol ) pays more than two million euros in sponsorship money per annum.

useful information

With his goal to make it 2-0 on August 5, 2009 in the Europa League qualifier against BSC Young Boys, Iker Muniain is 16 years and 229 days old and youngest goalscorer in the history of Athletic Bilbao.

titles and achievements

At the national level

  • Campeonato Norte (3): 1913-1914, 1914-1915, 1915-1916
  • Campeonato de Vizcaya (14): 1920, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1939, 1940
  • Copa Vasca (1): 1935


Squad of the 2020/21 season

As of July 29, 2020

No. Nat. Surname birthday in the team since Contract until
01 SpainSpain Unai Simón 06/11/1997 2011 2023
13 SpainSpain Iago Herrerín 01/25/1988 2012 2021
31 SpainSpain Jokin Ezkieta 08/17/1996 2012 2023
0- SpainSpain Hodei Oleaga 08/17/1996 2012 2022
02 RomaniaRomania Cristian Ganea 05/24/1992 2018 2021
03 SpainSpain Unai Núñez 01/30/1997 2017 2023
04th SpainSpain Iñigo Martínez 05/17/1991 2018 2023
05 SpainSpain Yeray 01/24/1995 2016 2026
15th SpainSpain Iñigo Lekue 05/04/1993 2016 2023
17th SpainSpain Yuri Berchiche 02/10/1990 2018 2022
18th SpainSpain Óscar de Marcos 04/14/1989 2010 2021
21st SpainSpain Other capa 02/08/1992 2018 2022
24 SpainSpain Mikel Balenziaga 02/29/1988 2013 2021
29 SpainSpain Daniel Vivian 07/05/1999 2016 2021
0- SpainSpain Peru Nolaskoain 10/25/1998 2015 2024
0- SpainSpain Andoni López 04/05/1996 2012 2021
0- SpainSpain Jesús Areso 07/02/1999 2017 2021
08th SpainSpain Unai López 10/30/1995 2011 2022
14th SpainSpain Dani García May 24, 1990 2018 2022
16 SpainSpain Mikel Vesga 04/08/1993 2014 2021
22nd SpainSpain Raúl García 07/11/1986 2015 2021
27 SpainSpain Unai Vencedor 11/15/2000 2017 2023
34 SpainSpain Oihan Sancet 04/25/2000 2015 2022
0- SpainSpain Oier Zarraga 01/04/1999 2009 2021
09 SpainSpain Iñaki Williams 06/15/1994 2012 2028
10 SpainSpain Iker Muniain (C)Captain of the crew 12/19/1992 2005 2024
11 SpainSpain Iñigo Cordoba 03/13/1997 2009 2022
12 SpainSpain Gaizka Larrazabal 12/17/1997 2017 2021
19th SpainSpain Ibai Gomez 11/11/1989 2019 2022
23 Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina SpainSpain Kenan Kodro 08/19/1993 2019 2022
25th SpainSpain Asier Villalibre 09/30/1997 2011 2023
30th SpainSpain Gorka Guruzeta 09/12/1996 2014 2021
0- SpainSpain Iñigo Vicente 01/06/1998 2013 2023
0- SpainSpain Jon Morcillo 09/15/1998 2016 2023

Well-known former players

Top 10 after appearances and goals

(Status: end of season 2018/19; all competitive games are given)

1 SpainSpain José Ángel Iribar 1962-1980 614
2 SpainSpain José Francisco Rojo 1965-1982 541
3 SpainSpain Joseba Etxeberria 1995-2010 514
4th SpainSpain Andoni Iraola 2003-2015 510
5 SpainSpain Markel Susaeta 2007-2019 507
6th SpainSpain Agustín Gaínza 1940-1959 494
7th SpainSpain José Maria Orúe 1950-1968 481
8th SpainSpain Aitor Larrazábal 1990-2004 445
9 SpainSpain Canito 1948-1963 437
10 SpainSpain Julen Guerrero 1992-2006 430
* = still active at Athletic Bilbao
1 SpainSpain Zarra 1940-1955 335
2 SpainSpain Bata 1929-1936 208
3 SpainSpain Dani 1974-1986 199
4th SpainSpain Guillermo Gorostiza 1929-1940 196
5 SpainSpain José Iraragorri 1929-1936
6th SpainSpain Aritz Aduriz 2002–2003
7th SpainSpain Eneko Arieta 1951-1966 170
8th SpainSpain José Luis Panizo 1939-1955 169
9 SpainSpain Agustín Gaínza 1940-1959 152
10 SpainSpain José Artetxe 1950-1965 133
* = still active at Athletic Bilbao

Coach history

Period Trainer
1910-1911 EnglandEngland Shepher
EnglandEngland Billy Barnes
1921-1922 EnglandEnglandMr. Burton Juan Arzuaga
1922-1925 EnglandEngland Fred Pentland
1925-1926 EnglandEngland Ralph Kirby
1926-1929 HungaryHungary Lippo Hertzka
1929-1933 EnglandEngland Fred Pentland
1933-1935 SpainSpain Patricio Caicedo
1935-1937 EnglandEngland William Garbutt
1939-1940 SpainSpain Roberto Echevarria
1940-1947 SpainSpain Juan Urquizu
1947-1949 EnglandEngland Herny John Bagge
1949-1952 SpainSpain José Iraragorri
1952-1955 SpainSpain Antonio Barrios
1955-1957 CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakia Ferdinand Daučík
1957-1958 SpainSpain Baltasar Albéniz
1958-1960 SpainSpain Martin Francisco
Period Trainer
1960–1962 SpainSpain Juan Antonio Ipiña
1962-1963 SpainSpain Ángel Zubieta
1963-1964 SpainSpain Juan Ochoantezama
1964-1965 SpainSpain Antonio Barrios
1965-1968 SpainSpain Agustín Gaínza
1968-1969 SpainSpain Rafael Iriondo
1969-1971 EnglandEngland Ronnie Allen
1971-1972 SpainSpain Salvador Artigos
1972-1974 Yugoslavia Socialist Federal RepublicYugoslavia Milorad Pavic
1974-1975 SpainSpain Rafael Iriondo
1975-1979 SpainSpain Koldo Aguirre
1979-1981 AustriaAustria Helmut Senekowitsch
1981 SpainSpain Iñaki Sáez
1981-1986 SpainSpain Javier Clemente
1986-1987 SpainSpain José Ángel Iribar
1987-1989 EnglandEngland Howard Kendall
1989-1990 SpainSpain Txetxu Rojo
1990-1991 SpainSpain Javier Clemente
Period Trainer
1991-1992 SpainSpain Iñaki Sáez
1992-1994 GermanyGermany Jupp Heynckes
1994-1995 SpainSpain Javier Irureta
1995-1996 Yugoslavia Socialist Federal RepublicYugoslavia Dragoslav Stepanović
1996-2000 FranceFrance Luis Fernández
2000-2001 SpainSpain Txetxu Rojo
2001-2003 GermanyGermany Jupp Heynckes
2003-2005 SpainSpain Ernesto Valverde
2005 SpainSpain José Luis Mendilibar
2005-2006 SpainSpain Javier Clemente
2006 SpainSpain Félix Sarriugarte
2006-2007 SpainSpain José Manuel Esnal
2007-2011 SpainSpain Joaquín Caparrós
2011-2013 ArgentinaArgentina Marcelo Bielsa
2013-2017 SpainSpain Ernesto Valverde
2017-2018 SpainSpain Cuco Ziganda
2018 ArgentinaArgentina Eduardo Berizzo
since 2018 SpainSpain Gaizka Garitano


Athletic Bilbao B

Athletic Bilbao women

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Athletic Club. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on June 13, 2010 ; accessed on May 22, 2013 .
  2. Athletic Bilbao's career path - a talent fisherman with iron principles from September 23, 2009 on
  3. [1]
  4. ^ Athletic Bilbao »Coach history . HOME: SPIEL Medien GmbH & Co. KG. Retrieved January 23, 2019.