Monday, August 22, 2016

Atletic Bilbao Greatest All-Time Team

Spanish Supercupo 2015
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Real MadridBarcelonaValencia, Villarreal
Atletico MadridSevillaAtletic Bilbao, 
Deportivo La Coruna  Real Sociedad,
Real BetisReal ZaragozaEspanyol
All-time Basque 23-member team

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Known as Los Leones (the Lions), Athletic Bilbao is known for its proud history.  They have a policy of fielding players from the Greater Basque region only.  The player policy now includes non-Basque players who born in the region or learn their football over there.  Despite of their restriction, Atletico Bilbao was one of the earliest power house in Spain.  They were the best Spanish club side until the 1950's.  At the time of writing, they won the 4th most La Liga titles and the second most Copa del Rey titles.

La Liga/Copa del Rey Double in the 1983-1984 season

GK: José Ángel Iribar (Spain)
José Ángel Iribor spent his entire career with Athletic Bibao from 1962 to 1980, except a season at the club's feeder club, CD Basconia.  He played over 600 games in a 18 year career.  For the national team, he played 49 times for Spain between 1964 and 1976. 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.
Jose Angel Iribar
GK: Carmelo Cedrun (Spain)
Carmelo Cedrum played for Athletic Bilbao from 1950 to 1964.  In 1964, having lost his place to another future club legend, José Ángel Iribar, he went to Espanyol.  He also went aboard to play in the United States.  He retired at 38 with the Baltimore Bays.  He was capped 13 times.  His son also played as a keeper for Atletico Bilbao.  

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 Barça lost 0–4 to A.C. Milan in the final, Zubizarreta was deemed surplus to requirements.  He left the club and joined Valencia.

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. He made his debut in 1953 against Sweden.  He earned his other two caps in 1957.

RB: Andoni Iraola (Spain)
Andoni Iraola graduated from Athletic Bilbao's academy.  He played for the senior squad from 2003 to 2015.  In 2015, he joined with NY City FC in the United States. He was capped 8 times between 2008 and 2011 during Spain's golden period.  He never went to a major tournament, but projected to go to Euro 2012 before an injury prevented him from going.

CB:  Andoni Goikoetxea (Spain) 
Nicknamed "The Butcher" for his brutal style of play, Andoni Goikoetxea played mainly for Athletic 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 his feud with Diego Maradona.  he almost ended Maradona's career with a tackle in 1983.  A year later, he became the focal point of the infamous brawl between Barcelona and Athletic Bilboa at the Final of Copa del Rey.
The "Butcher" was known for his battle vs Maradona
CB:  Jesús Garay (Spain)
Garay was rated among the best ever centre-back to be capped for Spain. He spent 10 seasons with Athletic Bilboa and then, Barcelona for another 5 seasons. He won five major titles with Athletic Bilboa between 1950 and 1960. He also played a single season with CD Málaga in the 1965-1966 season. He had 29 caps. He was part of the squad that competed at the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile. 

CB: Aitor Karanka (Spain)
Aitor Karanka played for Athletic Bilboa from 1993 to 1997.  In 1997, he made a dream move to Real Madrid as a replacement for Rafael Alkorta, where the club won three Champions' League in 5 years.  He was mainly a backup.  He returned to Athletic Bilboa in 2002 and went to Colorado Rapids in 2006. He had a single cap for Spain.

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 54 times for Spain between 1990 and 1998.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990, 1994 and 1998 as well the European Championship in 1996. He played 5 times for Basque national team.
Rafael Alkorta 

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
LB: Aitor Larrazábal (Spain)
Born in Usurbil, Gipuzkoa, Aitor Larrazábal was a one club player. From 1990 to 2004, he was the undisputed starter for Athletic Bilbao. He led the club to a runner-up position in 1997-1998. He gradually lost his place to Asier del Horno.  He retired in 2004. He was uncapped by Spain, but represented Basque County 8 times.

DM: Belauste (Spain)
Known for his physical size, Belauste was an early star of Athletic Bilbao and Spain.  He captained Spain to win a silver medal at the 1920 Olympics, but he almost did not pick up his medal because he was a Basque nationalist.  In the match against Sweden, he reportedly shouted "¡A mí el pelotón, Sabino, que los arrollo!".  That was credited for earning the nickname "Spanish Fury" for the national team.

CB/DM: Javi Martinez (Spain)
In 2006, Athletic Bilbao signed him from Osasuna before he made his senior debut.  He played 5 seasons with them.  In 2012, Bayern Munich broke the Bundesliga transfer record to bring him to Munich.  He won a singel Champions' League with them. At the time of writing, he received 18 caps.  He was used mainly as a backup at the World Cup Finals in 2010 and European Championship in 2012, where Spain won both tournaments.

Javi Martinez
AM/CM: José Luis Panizo (Spain) 
José Luis Panizo was a one club man for Athletico Bilbao.  During 16 professional seasons he would play in 325 La Liga matches, scoring 136 goals (seven years in double digits).  In the 1942–43 campaign, as Athletic Bilbao won the double, he netted 12 in 24 games.  He was capped 14 times. He played in the 1950 WC Finals, where Spain finished 4th.

RB/RM/FW: Ion Andoni Goikoetxea (Spain)

Ion Andoni Goikoetxea  was a product of hometown's CA Osasuna's youth ranks, where he made his professional debut.  Later, he was a member of Johan Cruyff's Dream Team(Barcelona).  He could play in various position.  In 1994, he joined Athletic Bilbao. He was capped 36 times between 1990 and 1996.  He appeared for Spain at the 1994 World Cup in the USA.

LW: Francisco Yeste (Spain)
Francisco Yeste was a product of Athletic Bilbao's academy.  From 1999 to 2010, he played 11 seasons with the first team.  He was considered an icon with the club.  In 2010, he went to play in the Middle East.  He later played with Olympiakos in Greece.  He was uncapped at the senior level for Spain, despite being a star at La Liga.  He helped Spain to win the Under-20 World Cup in 1999.  he has played for the Basque Country national football team.
Francisco Yeste
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 between 1945 and 1955. He was the captain of the Spanish national team in the 1950 World Cup Finals in Brazil, where they finished 4th.

AM: Julen Guerrero (Spain)
In 1992, he made his debut with Athletic Bilbao. where he scored 28 goals in his first season.  He was awarded the New Spanish Player of the Year by El País in 1993, and won the Spanish Footballer of the Year by both Don Balón and El País the following year. However, his form dropped after 1997-1998 season.  In 1993, when still only 19, Guerrero made his debut for Spain. He went on to play 41 games and score 13 goals. He went to the 1994 and 1998 World Cup Finals, and Euro 1996.

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.

FW: Txetxu Rojo (Spain)
Txetxu Rojo was an icon of Athletic Bilbao and one club player.  He is the second-most appearances in the Basque side's history, only behind José Ángel Iribar.   He won two Copa del Rey in 1969 and 1973.  During his time there, he played with his brother José Ángel, with the pair being thus referred to as 'Rojo I' and 'Rojo II'.  He was capped 18 times for Spain, but never played in a major international Finals.

ST: Fernando Llorente (Spain)
Nicknamed "El Rey León", Llorente was a product of Athletic Bilbao's academy.  He spent 8 seasons with the senior side.  The club reached the Final of UEFA Cup in 2012.  In 2013, he moved to Juventus.  He would win three straight Serie A title and reached the Champions' League Final in 2015.  He also played in England with Swansea and Tottenham Hotspurs. For Spain, he won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2012.  He was mainly used as a backup.
Fernando Llorente
ST Dani (Spain)
From 1972 to 1986, Dani scored 199 goals for Athletic Bilbao.  Except for a loan spell in the beginning of his career, he only played for the club. The team won back-to-back team La Liga title for the seasons of 1982-1983 and 1983-1984.  They also won the Copa Del Rey in 1983-1984, which made it a "Double" year. He was capped 25 times for Spain.  He participated at Argentina 1978 and Euro 1980.

ST: Ismael Urzaiz (Spain)

Ismael Urzaiz was a graduate of Real Madrid's academy.  He played for a number of clubs in Spain's La Liga before settling down with Athletic Bilbao.  He scored 115 goals for them between 1996 and 2007. Ismael Urzaiz earned 25 caps for Spain between 1996 and 2001, representing the national team at the European Championship in 2000.

ST: Rafael Moreno Aranzadi "Pichichi" (Spain)
"Pichichi 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. He retired after the Olympics. He died at the age of 29 in 1922.
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
Genar Andrinúa (Spain), José Ramón Alexanko (Spain), Carlos Gurpegui (Spain), Josu Urrutia (Spain), Estanislao Argote (Spain), Bata (Spain),  Raimundo Pérez Lezama (Spain),  Guillermo Gorostiza (Spain), Rafael Iriondo (Spain), Javier Irureta (Spain), Julio Salinas (Spain), Fidel Uriarte (Spain), Manu Sarabia (Spain), Victor Unamuno (Spain), Aritz Aduriz (Spain), Asier del Horno (Spain), Ander Herrera (Spain), Carlos Gurpegui (Spain), Canito (Spain), Iker Muniain (Spain).

Squad Explanation
-- José Ángel Iribar, Andoni Zubizarreta, Telmo Zarra, Rafael Moreno Aranzadi José Orue, Andoni Goikoetxea, Jesús Garay, Agustin Gainza, Bixente Lizarazu and Joseba Etxeberria are on my 
Basque All-Time team.
-- The club was very successful before the War. However, only six players were selected for this team. They are Telmo Zarra, Rafael Moreno Aranzadi "Pichichi", José Luis Panizo, Belauste and Agustin Gainza.  More players from that era should be selected for this team. I might need to review this team one day.
-- Andoni Zubizarreta, Telmo Zarra and Rafael Moreno Aranzadi "Pichichi" were on my Spain All-Time Team
-- Their player policy now includes non-Basque players who born in the region or learn their football over there.  At the time of writing, I have not selected any non-Basque national team.
-- In the 1980's, Atletico Bilbao had one of the most successful period in history Manager Javier Clemente led the club winning back-to-back La Liga title from 1982 to 1984.  In 1984, they also won Copa del Rey, making it a "Double" side.  However, the side was underrepresented. I only selected three players from that era, namely Andoni Goikoetxea, Dani and Andoni Zubizarreta
-- Andoni Zubizarreta and José Ángel Iribar are obvious selections for goalkeepers.  Both were considered among the greatest ever to have played for Spain.  Then, I prefer  Carmelo Cedrun over Raimundo Pérez Lezama for the third goalkeeper. Cedrum played more for the club.  Lezama was a squad player in the team at the end of his career.
-- Both Andoni Goikoetxea and Jon Andoni Goikoetxea were selected.  Andoni Goikoetxea earned a reputation as one of the toughest defender in the history of La Liga. He was also known for his controversial rivalry with Diego Maradona.  He broke Maradona's ankle earning the nickname "Butcher of Bilboa".  Their rivalry led to a massive brawl between the two teams in the Final of the 1984 Copa Del Rey.  Jon Andoni Goikoetxea known as as Goiko could play in various position.   He was mainly an attacker.

-- Aitor Karanka's status was heavily influenced by his career with Real Madrid, which it should not be a factor for this team.  At this moment, I still kept him on the squad.  I needed to do further review before taking him out of the squad.
-- Javi Martinez 's selection is also influenced by his national team career.  He won the 2010 World Cup with Spain.  Fernando Llorente was also on that World Cup team.
-- For leftbacks, Asier del Horno lost his spot to Aitor Larrazábal and Bixente Lizarazu. Aitor Larrazábal was one club player, which I rewarded him for his service. Bixente Lizarazu is one of the greatest left back ever played the game.  He is one of the few foreigners to have played for the club.  I might have made a mistake. Rightback Andoni Iraola played over 500 games for the club.
-- Francisco Yeste was a long time unsung hero of the club.  He never got his chance with Spain.
-- The "Pichichi award for la Liga top-scorer is named after Rafael Moreno Aranzadi.  He should be included because of that.
-- Telmo Zarra is considered to be Athletic Bilbao's greatest player. His scoring record in La Liga lasted for decades.
-- Agustin Gainza was a star in the 1950's in Spain.  He was a big name player in his time.
-- Fernando Llorente does not have the same legendary status as Telmo Zarra or Aranzadi, but he won a World Cup for Spain.
-- Txetxu Rojo is the second-most appearances in the Basque side's history, only behind José Ángel Iribar.

The side included a lot of the younger players.  

1 comment:

  1. Gregorio-Blasco
    Leonardo-Cilauren J.Garay Genar-Andrinua Lizarazu
    Ángel-María -Villar
    Etxeberria/Dani Guerrero Gaínza
    Zarra Pichichiánchez
    Pick your favorite right winger.