Iban Zubiaurre: ‘I can say I feel like I’m a footballer again’

Iban Zubiaurre: ‘I can say I feel like I’m a footballer again’

Do you feel like a footballer once more or is training enough to make you…

Athletic Club
Athletic Club
Nov 16, 2006

Do you feel like a footballer once more or is training enough to make you feel like one?
Once I get into the dynamics of the group, once I have signed the contract, I’ll be able to train with the rest of my team-mates and then I can say I feel like I’m a footballer again.

Was this situation resolved later than expected?
Yes, without a doubt, sixteen tough months have gone by. Now my priority is to get match fit as soon as possible. Despite having trained on my own behalf, I’m aware of the fact that not having played with the team means that it will take some time for me to be able to play.

Many thoughts must have gone through your mind – Did you ever think about throwing in the towel?
Yes, like I said before, sixteen tough months have gone by and during this time there are a lot of things that go through your mind and, besides, seeing the obstacles placed before me by Real at all times the truth is that on one occasion I thought about giving it all up and leading a “normal” life. Fortunately the positive ideas stood out and helped me to see things optimistically believing that everything would work out in the end, it’s tough, very difficult, seriously.

Who or What has given you the most strength?
On one hand my family and friends who have been there for me. On the other hand, conviction has done the rest; I knew I would play for Athletic one day.

How do you think you’ll be welcomed in the Locker room? Do you know anyone there?
They’ll accept me; I don’t think I have a problem with anyone. I know some of my team-mates from the lower divisions of the Spanish Team for example; Murillo, I also know Iraola and Gabilondo, I have played against Casas and I have a close relationship with Solabarrieta ever since we played in the Beach Tournaments when we were very young.

After having signed such a long-term contract, do you think this will be a burden?
After signing a contract for eight seasons I’ll feel relaxed enough to play football and I don’t think it’s a burden, if not an added incentive.

Could it be considered shameful all the obstacles placed before you by Real Sociedad SAD to stop you from doing your job?
Honestly I understand the stance taken by Real in trying to protect their interests, but once more I’d like to say that one thing is to protect your interests and another completely different thing is to make so much effort over the last sixteen months in preventing me from being a football player. I don’t know if vengeance is the right word, but Real’s Board of directors are doing all they can to stop me from playing football and that really hurts.

Did you expect that they would take such a strong stance?
No, to make things clear once again I can understand Real wanting to protect their interests but I didn’t expect them to do all things they did to stop me from playing. There’s a big difference.

Have your ex-team mates given you any support?
I can’t say anything about the members of Real. One thing is the talent of the employees and players and a completely different thing is the way I have been treated by the Board of directors. I usually talk with a lot of players; Asier Riesgo, Xabi Prieto, Alonso etc.

If you had shown an interest in playing for any other club besides Athletic, do you think you would have started playing a long time ago?
Yes, I don’t think there would have been so many impediments.

Why do you want to play for Athletic Club?
All my family are Red/White supporters as of always and it’s logical that I’m also an Athletic fan. I have watched Athletic play at San Mamés ever since I was a child.

On the other hand, How have the Red/White fans treated you?
Well, I haven’t had any problems, not even with the Real fans, From Mendaro and ever since my case was made public I have been treated well and, the most important thing for me is that they have understood my situation.

What about your ties with Athletic Club? Have you ever felt like you were alone in all of this?
No, I have spoken to Txema Noriega on many occasions along with several players. I have never felt alone.

Looking back, would you like to thank anyone?
Of course, I’d like to thank my family and friends for all the efforts they have made, they have always been close by and have lifted my spirit daily, What’s more, I have trained in Durango and in Elgoibar and I have been treated just like one of the rest, with normality.

How have you been able to clear your head?
By taking the initiative, almost always by exercising. At first I contracted a personal trainer to help me train three times a week at the Zorrotza Sports Centre (Bilbao). Also, I have spent a lot of time in the mountains, however, without realising I would stop and think and wish the hours would go by as quickly as possible.

On the outside looking in, what do you think of the team?
At the beginning weaker, but improving as each match goes by and without mentioning some of the decisions made be the referees, I think we are strong enough to leave the bottom of the League ladder. After losing in Majorca the team bounced back against Valencia where you could see a solid team.

Define yourself as a footballer…
Briefly, I play on the right wing and when I can I attack, keep in mind that my main and most important job is to defend.

A message to all the Red/White members and fans.
Only to say that I’m prepared to give it my all for Athletic.

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