History | Official Athletic Club Website

History

1890-1899
Athletic Club is born
The British 'foot-ball' arrives in Bilbao via the River Nervión

The love of a new sport
Football emerges in Biscay in the late 19th century as Bilbao and its surroundings areas experience a period of rapid industrial development. The sport was initially brought to Bilbao by British migrant workers and young Basques who had studied in Britain. The enthusiasm for this new sport inspires the birth of Athletic Club in 1898.

athletic-historia-surgir
athletic-historia-surgir
1889
Chronicles

The Sunderland Daily Echo reports on a match played in Bilbao between English sailors.

athletic-historia-san-mames
athletic-historia-san-mames
1894
Zamacois Gymnastic Society

Creation of the Zamacois Gymnastic Society (Bilbao), the seed of Athletic Club.

athletic-historia-1liga-doblete
athletic-historia-1liga-doblete
1898
Foundation

Athletic Club is founded.

1900-1909
First titles
Matches in Lamiako and the first cup competitions

Debut with a victory
Athletic Club play their games in Lamiako (Leioa). In 1902, Athletic wear their famous blue-and-white strip for the first time, make a foreign debut and win the first ever Alfonso XIII Coronation Cup. The Club inscribes its Statutes, integrates Bilbao FC and creates the Athletic Club Branch of Madrid.

athletic-1901-primeros-estatutos
athletic-1901-primeros-estatutos
1901
Statutes

First Statutes of Athletic Club. There are 33 founding members.

athletic-1902-primer-escudo
athletic-1902-primer-escudo
1902
Blue-and-white shirt

Athletic Club gets its first club crest and a new blue-and-white strip.

athletic-1902-primer-titulo
athletic-1902-primer-titulo
1902
First title

Athletic’s first title: The Alfonso XIII Coronation Cup (Madrid).

1910-1919
In red and white
San Mamés Stadium opens

No foreigners in the line-up
Athletic Club players turn out in red and white for the first time and the Club decides to compete without foreigners. The team leaves Lamiako and after a brief hiatus in Jolaseta (Getxo) they settle permanently in Bilbao in 1913. Their new home is the San Mamés, which fans affectionately nickname ‘The Cathedral’. The Royal Spanish Football Federation is also officially founded in 1913.

athletic-1910-estreno-camiseta-rojiblanca
athletic-1910-estreno-camiseta-rojiblanca
1910
Red-and-White shirt

The red-and-white shirt first appears during Irun Sporting Club v Athletic Club.

athletic-1911-futbolistas-vascos
athletic-1911-futbolistas-vascos
1911
Basque footballers

Athletic Club drops foreign players and takes a chance on competing with Basque footballers only.

athletic-1913-inauguracion-san-mames
athletic-1913-inauguracion-san-mames
1913
Inauguration of San Mamés Stadium

San Mamés Stadium opens its doors. The first fixture is Athletic Club v Real Racing Club de Irun.

Historical data of all the Club's players

In this section, you can view the statistics of all Athletic Club’s players throughout the club’s history.

athletic-ac-museoa-jugadores-
athletic-ac-museoa-jugadores-
1920-1929
The League begins
First professional players

Goodbye to amateur football
Professionalism gradually seeps into the Athletic Club squad and we say goodbye to the last generation of amateur footballers such as Carmelo Goyenechea. Athletic are now part of a new 10-team domestic league competition called ‘La Liga’. The Club expands its sports sections and in 1923 celebrates its Silver Anniversary.

athletic-1924-carne-abonada-foto
athletic-1924-carne-abonada-foto
1924
The membership card

Membership cards are created for Athletic Club fans.

athletic-1926-travieso-manuel-lopez
athletic-1926-travieso-manuel-lopez
1926
The first professional players

Manuel Vidal and Manuel López (Travieso), Athletic Club’s first professional footballers.

athletic-1928-inicio-liga
athletic-1928-inicio-liga
1928
The League starts

La Liga kicks off

1930-1939
War and glory
The Civil War interrupts Athletic's dominance

Years of titles and years of difficulties
This is the most successful period in Athletic Club’s history. There are numerous titles, international players and goal-scoring records which still stand to this day. But due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, all competitions are suspended between 1936-1939. The Club is hindered and the team disintegrates. These are years of strife and exile.

athletic-1930-primer-titulo-liga
athletic-1930-primer-titulo-liga
1930
First title and double

With Mister Pentland as coach, Athletic Club win their first league title and a first double.

athletic-1931-segundo-doblete
athletic-1931-segundo-doblete
1931
Biggest league win and a second double

Athletic achieve their biggest league win, a 12-1 victory over FC Barcelona (7 goals by Bata). And a second double: League and Cup champions.

athletic-1938-refundacion-bilbao-athletic
athletic-1938-refundacion-bilbao-athletic
1938
Bilbao Athletic

The ‘B’ team is rebuilt. Bilbao Athletic are re-established.

1940-1949
Athletic Club bounces back
Athletic's post-war reconstruction

Athletic Club to keep the League trophy
The effects of the Civil War weaken Athletic socially, economically and on the pitch. The club rebuilds and places its trust in youth. Led by a historic frontline, the youngsters form the base of the first side to be permanently awarded the League trophy and they also win a third Copa del Rey. The Club celebrates its first 50-year anniversary.

athletic-1941-escudo-atletico-bilbao
athletic-1941-escudo-atletico-bilbao
1941
Change of name

Athletic Club is forced to change its official name to Atlético de Bilbao.

athletic-1943-tercer-doblete
athletic-1943-tercer-doblete
1943
Third double

Athletic Club’s third double. The first team to take the League trophy home forever.

athletic-1947-mayor-goleada-copa
athletic-1947-mayor-goleada-copa
1947
Biggest Cup victory

Athletic Club record their biggest win in the Cup: Athletic Club 12 -1 RC Celta de Vigo (8 goals by Gainza).

Come and visit our museum!

Learn all about Athletic Club’s history through its possessions and its protagonists

athletic-museo
athletic-museo
1950-1959
The eleven villagers
Athletic's European Cup debut

The Arch of San Mamés
This is the time of the eleven villagers, symbols of Athletic and its youth academy. New titles see the Club’s popularity grow, there’s a first European Cup appearance and the first Fan Clubs are formed. San Mamés changes its look: the new Main Stand and the Arch -an icon of industrial Bilbao- are built.

athletic-1950-primera-pena
athletic-1950-primera-pena
1950
First Fan Club

Athletic’s first Fan Club: Peña Gainza de Minglanilla (Cuenca).

athletic-1956-debut-copa-europa
athletic-1956-debut-copa-europa
1956
European Cup debut

Athletic Club’s fourth double and the team’s debut in the European Cup.

athletic-1958-titulo-copa
athletic-1958-titulo-copa
1958
Cup title

Cup victory: The 11 villagers defeat Alfredo Di Stéfano’s Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

1960-1969
The youth academy grows stronger
Athletic Club Under-18s and Bilbao Athletic take shape

The new generation of lions
Before Spanish football incorporates foreign players, the Club reinforces its commitment to youth. Athletic Under-18s (1960) and Bilbao Athletic (1964) are created. In addition, Lezama, the first purpose-built football academy in the country, is designed (1969).  This new generation of lions, with José Ángel Iribar as goalkeeper, end the decade with another Cup title.

athletic-1960-athletic-juvenil
athletic-1960-athletic-juvenil
1960
Athletic Club Under-18s

Creation of Athletic Under-18s

athletic-1962-jose-angel-iribar-chopo
athletic-1962-jose-angel-iribar-chopo
1962
José Ángel Iribar

Goalkeeper José Ángel ‘El Chopo’ Iribar makes his debut.

athletic-1964-filial-bilbao-athletic
athletic-1964-filial-bilbao-athletic
1964
Bilbao Athletic

Bilbao Athletic becomes the main reserve side.

1970-1979
Lezama Academy
All-round development and high-performance training

First UEFA final
Athletic Club opens Lezama Academy, celebrates its 75th anniversary with another Cup title and holds the first Fan Clubs Congress (Bailén, Jaén). The team, strengthened by several signings, reaches a European final for the first time. After the political regime change, the Club asserts its democratic principles by stating, “one member, one vote”.

athletic-1971-inauguracion-escuela-futbol
athletic-1971-inauguracion-escuela-futbol
1971
Lezama inauguration

Lezama Academy (Biscay) opens its doors. It’s the first academy of its kind in Spanish football.

athletic-1972-vuelta-nombre-original
athletic-1972-vuelta-nombre-original
1972
Return to original name

The Club recovers its original name: Athletic Club.

athletic-1977-primera-final-europea
athletic-1977-primera-final-europea
1977
First European final

Athletic Club play Juventus FC in the final of the UEFA Cup.

Presidents in Club's history
Learn about the presidents who have had the honour of leading Athletic Club throughout its 120-year-long history
CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 82
CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 82
1980-1989
The ‘Gabarra’
New titles and historical celebration on the River Nervión

The official anthem
After a long wait, the lions win two La Liga titles and one Copa del Rey. Vast crowds line the riverbanks as Athletic’s players take to the River Nervión in La Gabarra (a small barge) to celebrate their victories; a true highlight in the history of Athletic Club and Biscay. San Mamés hosts the World Cup. The Club brings out an anthem and opens its headquarters: the Palace of Ibaigane.

athletic-1982-primeras-elecciones
athletic-1982-primeras-elecciones
1982
First elections

All Athletic Club members go to the ballot box for the first time (universal suffrage).

athletic-1983-primera-travesia-gabarra
athletic-1983-primera-travesia-gabarra
1983
First voyage of the Gabarra

Official Club Anthem and the Gabarra hits the waves after Athletic Club win La Liga.

athletic-1984-quinto-doblete
athletic-1984-quinto-doblete
1984
Fifth double

Athletic Club win a fifth double: League and Cup Champions.

1990-1999
The Centenary
Before a new challenge: the Bosman ruling

The first 100 years
This is the first decade without a title in Athletic’s history. After the Bosman ruling, the club must rise to the challenge in order to keep competing. Despite everything, the red-and-white team continues to play in Europe, finishes second in the league and qualifies for the Champions League. The Club celebrates its first Centenary.

athletic-escudo-fondo-gris
athletic-escudo-fondo-gris
1992
Public Limited Sports Company

Creation of Public Limited Sports Companies (SAD), but Athletic retains its status as a non-commercial club.

athletic-1998-centenario-club
athletic-1998-centenario-club
1998
100 Years

Athletic Club celebrates its 100th birthday by making its UEFA Champions League debut.

athletic-1999-aprobacion-estatutos
athletic-1999-aprobacion-estatutos
1999
Approval of the Statutes

Approval of Athletic Club’s current statutes.

2000-2009
Athletic Club Women
The Lionesses are formed, and turbulent times for the Club

The lionesses in the elite, the lions in trouble
In the context of globalised football, the lions are less competitive. Some seasons they only just manage to avoid relegation from La Liga, but in others they play in Europe and they reach the Copa del Rey final for the first time in 24 years. The Club founds Athletic Club Women and the lionesses win four league titles.

athletic-2002-debut-athletic-femenino
athletic-2002-debut-athletic-femenino
2002
Athletic Club Women debut

Athletic Club Women’s first match: Athletic Club – AD Torrejón (Lezama).

athletic-2004-mayor-goleada-competicion-europea
athletic-2004-mayor-goleada-competicion-europea
2004
Biggest win in European competition

Athletic Club record their biggest win in European competition: Standard de Liège 1 -7 Athletic Club.

athletic-2005-primer-titulo-liga-femenino
athletic-2005-primer-titulo-liga-femenino
2005
First League trophy

Athletic Club Women win three league titles in a row, becoming the first team to be permanently gifted the trophy.

2010-2019
A brand-new San Mamés
New stadium, new titles

The reward after a long wait
After a century playing in the same ground, Athletic opens its new stadium in 2013: San Mamés, the new Cathedral. In this decade, Athletic Club are runners-up eight times. The Lions reach the Europa League final and the Copa del Rey final twice. The Lionesses are four-times runners-up in the League and twice in the Cup. The compensation comes in 2015-16 when the men’s team win the Spanish Super Cup -our first trophy in 30 years- and the women’s team take home the league title.

athletic-2012-segunda-final-europea
athletic-2012-segunda-final-europea
2012
Second European final

Second European final (UEFA Europa League): Club Atlético de Madrid 3 – 0 Athletic Club.

athletic-despedida-480x319
athletic-despedida-480x319
2013
Farewell and inauguration

Goodbye to the old San Mamés with a special testimonial: Athletic Club v Biscay Select XI and hello to the new San Mamés: Athletic Club v Celta Vigo.

athletic-2014-aforo-completo-480x327
athletic-2014-aforo-completo-480x327
2014
Full capacity

First match with San Mamés at full capacity: Athletic Club v Napoles (Champions League).

2015
Super Cup champions

Spanish Super Cup champions after defeating FC Barcelona (4-0 in San Mamés / 1-1 in Camp Nou)