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.
Highlights I Levante UD 1-1 Athletic Club (LaLiga Matchday 25)
A game of two penalties, as both sides get a point
Marcelino: “A victory for us would’ve been fair”
Marcelino bemoaned the defensive mistakes that led to Levante’s goal
Athletic held to frustrating draw by Levante
Despite constantly threatening, Athletic only pick up one point from a match where both goals came from the penalty spot
Confirmed line-ups: Levante UD vs Athletic Club
The XI’s for tonight’s LaLiga match at the Ciutat de Valéncia
Global TV Guide: Levante UD vs Athletic Club (LaLiga Matchday 25)
When and where to watch Athletic’s upcoming LaLiga match against Levante UD
Marcelino: “We’re focused on winning tomorrow”
Marcelino looks ahead to Friday night’s LaLiga Santander match against Levante UD
Squad list: Levante UD vs Athletic Club (LaLiga Matchday 25)
Marcelino has called up 23 players for Friday night’s clash with Levante UD at the Ciutat de València
A big week against Levante
Athletic will face Levante twice in six days, starting with a LaLiga fixture on Friday (21:00 CET)
Raúl García: “The more difficult the challenge, the better”
After extending his contract with Athletic Club until 2022, Raúl García expressed his intention to keep going “as long as he was up to the task of competing for this Club”
Raúl García signs contract extension until 2022
The agreement includes an option for a further season depending on a number of targets.