Athletic Club has the honour of being an active participant in Club Atlético Osasuna’s centenary celebrations. Throughout their respective histories, between official matches and friendlies, the Basque clubs have played each other 199 times.
But it all started on November 4, 1923, when Osasuna came to Bilbao to play a friendly against Athletic at San Mamés. Arriving as champions of the Gipuzkoan Football Federation’s Serie B -the federation with which the Navarre-based club was inscribed at that time- Osasuna faced an Athletic side strengthened by various players from other teams in Biscay. The Lions won the match 5-3.
Among the members of that Osasuna squad, one Juanito Urkizu, at that point a striker, would go on to make history at Athletic Club. First of all Urkizu had a brilliant Athletic career as a defender under legendary manager Mr Pentland.
Then between 1940-48, as manager he led Athletic to one Primera División title and three Copas and was in charge for no less than 235 games -a figure only bettered by Javier Clemente and Ernesto Valverde. With a total of 16 trophies as a player and coach, Urkizu is at the very top of the list when it comes to silverware at Athletic.
That particular evening, Urkizu was determined to play a great game and show his worth. He scored two goals. According to a match report in El Noticiero Bilbaino, he was the heart and soul of his side. “He was key, he got the first and last goal, he played with the courage to show that he could still stand out,” the report stated.
The same paper described Osasuna as being a “very intelligent side” and the newspaper El Pueblo Vasco wrote that “the spectators appreciated their fair and noble style, with the only defect being their slowness”.
The 0-1 scoreline, the work of Urkizu, spurred on Athletic striker Carmelo Goienetxea, who came into the game off the back of some poor performances. The forward scored three times and missed a penalty, which he did not want to score according to the papers. One of them, A.Ñ.A.T.A., rebuked him for the miss, writing: “For us, that seemed very bad. A penalty must always be struck with the intention of scoring, especially when, as on Sunday, he could have got an equaliser. It does not matter if it is a friendly match.”
In the end, Carmelo got the equaliser and it was Jose Antonio Agirre who got Athletic’s second. Agirre would later become the first president of the Basque government. He was called ‘Chocolate’ due to his family’s chocolate manufacturing business.
In the second half, Gucharri, Osasuna’s skillful no-10 from Tolosa, evened up the scores once more.Elexpuru got the third and Carmelo scored the fifth to put Athletic 5-2 up, before Urkizu got Osasuna’s third and final goal.
*The Athletic starting XI in the photo is from December 1923.
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