Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Basque Greatest All-time 23 member team

Ignacio Kortabarria and José Ángel Iribar 1976 showing the Basque flag in 1976

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

The Basque country is the homeland of the Basque people.  It consists areas that are parts of Spain and France.  The Basque footballers have been capped by many countries. Athletic Bilbao is the symbol of Basque nationalism.  It is one of the most successful clubs in Spain.  It has an unwritten rule that the club only fields Basque players.  This is my All-Time 23 member team for the Basque people.  I am including Basque players who were capped by other countries.  

I have also created all-time teams for Spanish regions: Castile and Catalonia, and Athletic BilbaoMy all time team 23 member team for Spain. 
Basque National Team
Team 
GK: Andoni Zubizarreta (Spain)
Andoni Zubizarreta represented La Roja in 4 World Cup Finals. He was at one point Spain's cap record holder.  He started with Athletic Bilboa.  He also played for Barcelona and Valencia.  He won Barcelona's first ever Champions' League in 1992.  After the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League, where Barcelona lost 0–4 to A.C. Milan in the final, Zubizarreta was deemed surplus to requirements.

GK: José Ángel Iribar (Spain)
José Ángel Iribor spent his entire career with Athletic Bibao from 1962 to 1980.  He played over 600 games in a 18 year career.  He played 49 times for Spain. He was Spain's starting keeper at the 1964 European Championship as Spain won their first ever major trophy. He was also Spain's starting keeper at the World Cup Finals in 1966.

GK: Luis Arconada (Spain)
Luis Arconada  played his entire career with Real Sociedad, capturing back-to-back La liga titles from 1980 to 1982.  He was capped 68 times, helping Spain to reach the Euro 1984 Final.  His blunder, however, in the Final caused Spain to lose in that Final against France. He also went to the 1978 and 1982 World Cups as well as Euro 1980. 


RB: José Orue (Spain)
José Orue was a long-time footballer for Atletic Bilboa during the 1950's.  At the time of writing, he is their fourth most appearance record for the club. He won one league and three Copa del Rey trophies in the 50's, including the double in the 1955–56 campaign.  He earned 3 caps for Spain.

CB:  Jacinto Quincoces (Spain)
Quincoces was one of the greatest defenders of the pre-war era. He played for Deportivo Alavés from 1920 to 1931.  From 1931 to 1942, he played for Real Madrid.  He won the first ever title for Real Madrid in 1930.  Widely considered one of the first soccer idols in Spain.  He played 25 times for Spain and went to the World Cup Finals in 1934.
Jacinto Quincoces 
CB:  Andoni Goikoetxea (Spain)
Nicknamed "The Butcher" for his style of play, Goikoetxea played mainly for Atletic Bilboa, but also with Atletico Madrid.  He was a part of Javier Clemente's Bilboa team that won back-to-back league title from 1982 to 1984.  However, he was best remembered for almost ending Diego Maradona's career with a tackle in 1983.  A year later, he became the focal point of the infamous brawl between Barcelona and Atletic Bilboa at the Final of Copa del Rey.  

CB:  Jesús Garay (Spain)
Rated among the best ever centre-back to be capped for Spain, Garay went to the WC Finals in 1962.  He spent 10 seasons with Athletic Bilboa and then, Barcelona for another 5 seasons. He won five major titles with Athletic Bilboa. He also played a single season with CD Málaga. He had 29 caps. He was part of the squad that competed at the 1962 World Cup. 

CB: Rafael Alkorta (Spain)
Having represented Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid during a 17-year professional career, Rafael Alkorta amassed La Liga totals of 370 games and eight goals, winning three trophies with the latter club. At Real Madrid, he won two La Liga titles.  He played b54 times for Spian.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990, 1994 and 1998 as well the European Championship in 1996.

LB:  Bixente Lizarazu (France)
Bixente Lizarazu was the leftback for the all-conquering French team of 1990's and early 2000's.  He won the World Cup in 1998 and European Championship in 2000. He had 97 caps. Lizarazu began his professional career with Girondins de Bordeaux, but better known for playing with Bayern Munich for 9 seasons. He won the Champions' League in 2001. He is a Basque and he also played for Atletico Bilbao. 

Bixente Lizarazu 
DM/LB: Jose Maria Zarraga (Spain)
From 1951 to 1961, he played for Real Madrid.  He won 11 major trophies, including 5 straight European Cups– he played in all the finals, and totalled 31 appearances combined in those victorious campaigns.  The 1959-1960 team was considered one of the greatest ever club sides in history. He made 8 appearance with Spain and once as the captain.

LB:  Agustin Aranzabal (Spain)
From 1993 to 2004, he starred for Real Sociedad. He helped the club to finish second during the 2002–03 season. He moved to Zaragoza in 2004, but could not find any successes.   He retired in 2008, but in early 2010, he retired and joined Kitchee SC from Hong Kong, playing along side Albert Celades.  He had 28 caps and went to the World Cuo Finals in 1998.

DM: Ignacio Zoco (Spain)
Ignacio Zoco was best remembered for his 12 seasons with Real Madrid. He was a member of the Ye Ye team of Real Madrid that defined an era in Spanish football.  He won the 1966 European Cup with the club.  He played more than 20 times with Spain, winning the 1964 European Nations' Cup and also representing the nation at the 1966 World Cup.

DM:  Didier Deschamps (France)
He was only the second player in history to captain his team to lift the three big trophies: the Champions League trophy, the World Cup trophy and the European Championship trophy.  He started his career with Nantes. The prime of his career was spent with Marseille and Juventus, where he won a Champions League for both club.  He earned 103 caps and was the captain of 1998 World Cup winning team for France.

CM: Xabi Alonso  (Spain)
Xabi Alonso started with Real Sociedad.  He joined Liverpool in 2004 winning the Champions' League trophy in his first season.  In 2009, he moved to Real Madrid, winning the Champions' League again in 2014.  In 2014, he joined Bayern Munich. He was a key member of the Spanish team that won the WC and two European Championships.  His 114 caps make him the fifth most capped player in the nation's history.
Xabi Alonso
AM/RM: Gaizka Mendieta (Spain)
Mendieta was a big star while playing for Valencia between 1993 and 2001.  He led them to back-to-back Champions' League Final in 2000 and 2001.  He moved to Lazio in 2001, but he failed to find his form.  Then, he played one season with Barcelona, where the club only ranked 6th.  He would also play with Middesbrough FC. He earned 40 caps.

LW: Agustin Gainza (Spain)
Agustín Gaínza is one of Atletico Bilboa's greatest players.  He spent his entire career with Athletic Bilbao, winning 10 major titles between 1940 and 1959.  When he retired, he was the club's appearance record holder. He won 33 caps and was the captain of Spain in the 1950 World Cup Finals in Brazil, where they finished 4th.

FW/RW: Joseba Etxeberria (Spain)
Joseba Etxeberria started his career with Real Sociedad, but after a single season, he moved to Athletic Bilbao in 1995, breaking the transfer record for an under 18 player in Spain.  The transfer also broke off formal relationship between the two clubs. He was capped 53 times, representing his country at the 1998 World Cup,  Euro 2000 and Euro 2004.

AM/ST:  Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
His career in Europe started slowly.  He played poorly for Manchester United, but his career took off after heading to Spain in 2004.  He was two-time European Golden Shoe winner in 2004-2005 and then, 2008-2009.  He won the Golden Ball at South Africa 2010, where Uruguay finished 4th.  His best years were with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.
Diego Forlan
ST: Mundo (Spain)
Edmundo Suárez Trabanco was known as Mundo.  He is the highest scorer in Valencia's history and remained one of the top scorers in La Liga's history.  He started his career with Athletic Bilbao, playing a single game before the Spanish Civil War cut short his stay.  He played for Valencia after the War between 1939 and 1950.  Capped 3 times.

ST: Rafael Moreno Aranzadi "Pichichi" (Spain)
The award for la Liga top-scorer is named after him.  He scored 240 goals in 170 matches for Athletic Bilbao. He won 4 Copa del Rey. In 1920, Pichichi was a member of the very first Spain national team that played at the Summer Olympic Games in Belgium. He earned five senior caps during one month, his debut coming on 28 August in a 1–0 win against Denmark.

ST: Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina)
Born in France of an Argentinian player Jorge Higuain, Gonzalo first starred for River Plate in Argentina.  He joined Real Madrid in 2006.  He became a fan's favourite after scoring the winning goal against Espanyol on his debut season.  He would stay with the club until 2013.  For the national team, he earned 52 caps.  He was brought into the national team after Argentina struggled to qualify for South Africa 2010.
Gonzalo Higuain
ST: Isidro Langara (Spain)
Langara was a star player with Real Oviedo before the start of the Spanish Civil War.  After the War, he became an exile playing for San Lorenzo in Argentina. He scored 110 goals in 121 games.  In 1940, he was the league's joint-top scorer. In 1943, he moved to p=lay for Real Espana in Mexico.  He was the league's top scorer.  In 1946, he returned to Spain and played fro Real Oviedo again.

ST: Telmo Zarra (Spain)
Athletic Bilbao's greatest player.  Zarra signed for Athletic after playing one season for Erandio. He became a prolific goalscorer in his 15 seasons at the club, winning the Pichichi Trophy as the highest scorer in La Liga on six occasions. During his career, Zarra scored a total of 251 league goals, a Spanish record that lasted nearly six decades. His 81 goals in the Copa del Rey remains a record today .He was capped 20 times and scored 20 goals for Spain. He was a member of the 1950 World Cup team.
Telmo Zarra

Honorable Mention:
Ivan Campo, Aitor Karanka, Agustin Aranzabal , Jose Ramon Alexanko, Leonardo Cilaurren, Jose Mari Bakero, Estanisiao Argote, Luis Regueiro, Bata, Javi Martinez, Fernando Llorente, Dani, Urrutti, Juan Alonso, Ignacio Eizaguirre, Jose Eulogio Garate, Julio Salinas, Cesar Azpilicueta. Asier del Horno, Javi Martínez, Aritz Aduriz, René Petit, Asier Illarramendi, Ion Andoni Goikoetxea, Jose Eulogio Garate.

Squad Explanation
-- Basque has a strength in keepers. Juan Alonso, Urrutti and Ignacio Eizaguirre were great keepers, but could not make the cut.
-- Joseba Etxeberria was selected for his commitment to Atletico Bilboa, which is considered to be liked the real national team of Basque.  
-- Ion Andoni Goikoetxea was a forward. Andoni Goikoetxea was the centerback known for his rivalry with Diego Maradona.
-- I only brought two fullbacks.  I felt Asier del Horno and Cesar Azpilicueta have not done enough.  Instead, I selected Jose Maria Zarraga who was a key member of Real Madrid of the 1950's.  He could play as a left back.
-- Leonardo Cilaurren deserved a spot.
-- Telmo Zarra is probably the best known striker from Basque.
-- Didiner Deschamps, Diego Forlan and Gonzalo Higuain are of Basque descent. Bixente Lizarazu played for Atletico Bilboa.
-- Antoine Griezmann learned his football with Real Sociedad.  Atletico Bilboa allowed non-Basque players to learn football in the Basque region to play for them. He is eligible to play for Atletico Bilboa, but not for Basque team.  He is ineligible to play for this team.

Starting lineup
Basque has a number of great strikers, but Diego Forlan proved himself at the WC Finals, the highest stage in football.



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