Athletic Club de Bilbao is synonymous with belonging, soul, claw and one of the most successful clubs in the history of football on the Iberian Peninsula. A team that for more than 100 years has opted for a philosophy that leads it to only use, hire and play with footballers trained in their land or born in the Basque Country. What are the reasons for such a risky bet?
Some will think that this measure has meant a step back in the collection of sporting successes, but nothing is further from the truth. Athletic Club de Bilbao is the only team together with Barcelona and Real Madrid that has never been relegated in LaLiga, the eleventh most winning club in all of Europe and an example in terms of player training. Bolavip went to its facilities thanks to LaLiga to see first-hand why the entity has posted for this model in a territory that does not exceed three million inhabitants.
“Sense of belonging”
In a talk we had with the sports director Andoni Ayarza and other workers from the club’s training area, they explained to us how this philosophy of the Basque team stems from a singular event in 1911. Since then, Athletic Club de Bilbao has been solely and exclusively committed to their people.
The origins: “Athletic began to play without foreigners since the Copa del Rey in 1911. A tournament that was precisely organized by the club and that was the origin of a series of controversies where it was decided not to play any more with footballers who were born abroad. of the Basque Country. They even failed to appear in the 1912 edition as a protest ”.
“What happened was that the team competed with several Englishmen who were recruited on a regular basis. Two other UK professional players were recruited exclusively for that tournament and the club wins it. Teams such as Barcelona and Real Sociedad denounce the entity for breach of the sporting spirit of the time and Athletic will withdraw the title for a while ”, they begin by telling us from the heart of Lezama.
The sense of belonging is born: “It is then that, beyond the fact that we do not have the formal records of the time, we know that there was a meeting where the team leaders complained in a very ironic way: ‘From now on we are going to play only with Basques’ ”.
That act of rebellion against what they considered an injustice gave rise to a feeling of unity in the club that made them a giant known worldwide for their role model: “What is behind that decision is a story of a sense of belonging and territoriality that comes from the same amateur football that is maintained today ”.
Since then, the youngsters who have risen to the first team from the Lezama facilities have given the Lions 8 LaLiga titles, 24 Copas del Rey, 3 Super Cups, an Eva Duarte and 18 regional championships that have turned Athletic Bilbao into one of the most important clubs in Spanish football. (Bolavip)