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,
Atletico MadridSevillaAtletic Bilbao, 
Deportivo La Coruna  Real Sociedad,
Real BetisReal ZaragozaEspanyol

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.  Despite of their restriction, Atletico Bilbao was one the earliest power house in Spain.  They were the best Spanish side until the 1950's.  Today, they won the 4th most La Liga titles and the second most Copa del Rey titles.

Please see my All-time Basque 23-member team here

Team GK: José Ángel Iribar (Spain)
Iribor spent his entire career with Athletic Bilbao.  He played over 600 games in a 18 year career.  He was Spain's starting keeper at the European Championship as Spain won their first ever major trophy.
Jose Angel Iribar

GK: Carmelo Cedrun (Spain)
Cedrum played for Athletic Bilbao from 1950 to 1964.  He went to Espanyol in 1964.  He was capped 13 times.  His son also played as  a keeper for Atletico Bilbao.

GK: Andoni Zubizarreta (Spain)
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

RB: José Orue (Spain)
He was a long-time footballer for Athletic Bilboa during the 1950's.  At the time of writing, he is their fourth most appearance record for the club. He earned 3 caps for Spain.

RB: Andoni Iraola (Spain)
Iraola graduated from Athletic Bilbao's academy.  He played for the senior squad from 2003 to 2015.  He is now with NY City FC. he was capped 8 times.

CB:  Andoni Goikoetxea (Spain)
Nicknamed "The Butcher" for his style of play, Goikoetxea.  He 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 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 Athletic Bilboa at the Final of Copa del Rey.
Gioko was known for his battle vs Maradona
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 FIFA World Cup, featuring in the 0–1 group stage loss to Czechoslovakia.

CB: Aitor Karanka (Spain)
Karanka played for Athletic Bilboa from 1993 to 1997.  In 1997, he made a dream move to Real Madrid, 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, he 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 went to the WC Finals in 1990, 1994 and 1998.
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)
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 never played for another club.

DM: Belauste (Spain)
Knwon for his physical size, he 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.

CB/DM: Javi Martinez (Spain)
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.  At the time of writing, he received 18 caps.  He was used mainly as a backup at the WC Finals in 2010 and Euro 2012.

Javi Martinez
CM: José Luis Panizo (Spain)
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.

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

He 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)
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 and Olympiakos in Greece.  
Francisco Yeste
LW: Agustin Gainza (Spain)
He spent his entire career with Athletic Bilbao, winning 10 major titles.  He won 33 caps and was the captain of Spain in the WC 1950, 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 UEFA Euro 1996.

FW/RW: Joseba Etxeberria (Spain)
Etxeberria started his career with Real Sociedad, but moved to Athletic Bilbao in 1995, breaking the transfer record for an under 18 player in Spain.  He was capped 53 times, representing his country at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2000 and Euro 2004.

FW: Txetxu Rojo (Spain)
Txetxu Rojo was an icon of Athletic Bilbao.  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.  He was capped 18 times, but never played in a Finals.

ST: Fernando Llorente (Spain)
Nicknamed "El Rey León", he was a product of Athletic Bilbao's academy.  He spent 8 seasons with the senior side.  The club reached the Final of UEFA Club in 2012.  In 2013, he moved to Juventus.  He would win three straight Serie A title and reached the Champions' League Final in 2015.  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.  The team won back-to-back team title for the seasons of 1982-1983 and 1983-1984.  They also won the Copa Del Rey in 1983-1984. He was capped 25 times and participated at Argentina 1978 and Euro 1980.

ST: Ismael Urzaiz (Spain)

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

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: 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, José Ramón Alexanko, Carlos Gurpegui, Josu Urrutia, Estanislao Argote , Bata,  Raimundo Pérez Lezama,  Guillermo Gorostiza, Rafael Iriondo, Javier Irureta, Julio Salinas, Fidel Uriarte, Manu Sarabia, Victor Unamuno, Aritz Aduriz, Asier del Horno.

Squad Explanation
-- The club was very successful before the War. However, on,y a few players were selected for this team. More players from that era should be selected for this team. I did not notice large num her of modern players on the team.  I might need to review this team one day.

-- I prefer Cedrun over Raimundo Pérez Lezama.
-- Both Andoni Goikoetxea and Ion Andoni Goikoetxea were selected.  Andoni Goikoetxea earned a reputation as one of the toughest defender in the history of La Liga.  Ion Goikoetxea could play in various position. 

-- 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.
-- 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.
-- Telmo Zarra and "Pichichi" were on my All-Time Greatest Team for Spain. 
-- Agustin Gainza was a star in the 1950's in Spain.

The side included a lot of the younger players.  

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