Oier Zarraga: another cub joins the pride | Athletic Club
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Oier Zarraga: another cub joins the pride

The promising centre-midfielder came on as a substitute to make his official first-team debut on Sunday against Levante UD

Oier Zarraga: another cub joins the pride
Oier Zarraga: another cub joins the pride
Oct 19, 2020

Central midfielder Oier Zarraga, born on January 4, 1999, made his LaLiga Santander debut on Sunday, coming on as a substitute in Athletic’s 2-0 win against Levante at San Mamés. The Getxo native replaced Unai López in the 70th minute.

The Lezama graduate took part in four pre-season friendlies with the first-team, even scoring against Real Oviedo. But Sunday was the midfielder’s first official appearance as a lion.

Zarraga is the 626th lion to make a debut in the red-and-white shirt and the ninth debutant under current manager, Gaizka Garitano. Signings Kenan Kodro, Jokin Ezkieta and Alex Berenguer, as well as fellow academy products Jon Morcillo, Oihan Sancet, Gaizka Larrazabal, Iñigo Vicente and Unai Vencedor, also made their Athletic debuts under Gaizka Garitano.

Zarraga became the fourth debutant of the 2020-21 season, behind Morcillo, Vicente and Berenguer. “This is a dream I’ve chased since I was a child,” an emotional Zarraga said after Sunday’s fixture. “First as a fan, then as an academy player and finally with the first team. It’s all very exciting.”

Growing up in Lezama
The midfielder has been at Athletic for half of his life, having joined the youth set-up as a 10-year old in 2009-10. He moved up through all the age groups before making the jump to Basconia in 2017-18.

He was with the third team for two seasons and made his Bilbao Athletic debut last season. Zarraga played 29 times and scored five goals for the reserves, becoming a key player as the team reached the play-offs under Joseba Etxeberria in 2019-20.

Oier’s performances caught the eye of Garitano, who called him up to the first team for pre-season training this summer. Despite not yet having a first-team contract, Zarraga is training with the top squad and has been named in five LaLiga matchday squads so far in 2020-21.

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