Athletic Club legend Iraola to leave at end of season

” Fittingly, Iraola’s last appearance for Athletic Club will be in the final of the Copa del Rey which Athletic will dispute against FC Barcelona at Camp Nou on May 30.”
Bilbao (Spain), April 30(IANS): Captain Andoni Iraola confirmed on Thursday that he was leaving the Spanish football club Athletic Club Bilbao after spending his entire career playing for them.

The 32-year-old made the announcement alongside club president Josu Urrutia, the club’s technical staff and the first team players, reports Xinhua.

I have been 16 years at the club and 12 in the first team. I have had good and bad times but I am very happy and proud of my trajectory until now, he said.

Iraola, who is the fourth highest appearance maker at the club, said that he had taken the decision because every year it is harder to respond to expectations and the hopes that people put on you. It is a great responsibility to play for Athletic and it is never easy to take this kind of decision.

Iraola thus brings the curtain down on a career which has so far seen him make 502 first team appearances as well as a further 75 appearances for Bilbao Athletic, the club’s B-team and 35 more for Athletic’s third team Basconia.

His career also saw him earn seven caps for Spain and it is generally acknowledged that had he played for a higher profile club such as Barcelona or Real Madrid, that number would have been considerably higher.

Fittingly, Iraola’s last appearance for Athletic Club will be in the final of the Copa del Rey which Athletic will dispute against FC Barcelona at Camp Nou on May 30.

The chance to play my last game in the Cup final is incredible and it would be exceptional to be able to finish with the title, he said.