Athletic: ‘We haven’t even reached the tip of their shoes’

Ander Garitano speaks of the last Athletic champion, of the quality of that Clemente squad, of Barakaldo’s own coach, of the ‘mingafrías’. No footballer who has passed after that triumphant period for the rojiblanco club, according to the deriotarra, would start at that Athletic, except perhaps Aduriz and Urzaiz.

What do you think of that Athletic who won the Cup and the last Leagues?

Those have been, since what I have seen when I was six years old, the best in everything. As professionals and as footballers. That generation was a fucking outrage. To put a street to all, no, the following. They were an example absolutely in everything for all the generations that we have come after. We have not reached any or the soles of the shoes, but all I mean everyone from those who followed them later to those who are now.

None?

There is no footballer like those, I don’t remember. The same Urzaiz or Aduriz, but not one more. Neither one is nor one. No player who can play in that squad since 1985. They were very good and besides they had an unusual professionalism. Finding that now is not easy at all.

What do you mean?

For us, when we met them in the corridors as children or youth, it was as if they were legends, untouchables, myths because of what they did and represented. Today football is another story.

I could tell you about someone from Lezama who made it to the first team and didn’t know who Rojo was.

That is a problem. If we do not know the identity, no matter how much some want to sell it, of the history of what that squad and those footballers have represented; we have a problem, obviously. Today each one goes to his own roll and his story. We, I mean Urrutia, Alkorta, Lakabeg or Mendiguren, we saw Goiko, Urtubi, Argote, Rocky Liceranzu, Zubi down the hall and we were filled with grief. They were gods. I didn’t see the ones before them play much, but you did know them.

Would you put Clemente on the same level?

Clemente is the one who made that movie work. Many will want to see it or not want to see it, but it is he who makes that movie work. It has a very high percentage of everything that happened, I have no doubt. I don’t think there were many sports directors there. Another thing is that people may or may not agree with certain things.

The mingafrías, for example?

That falls within their role. Clemente is a person who identifies with the group or not. It is something that he carries inside, from his way of seeing football. He was not identified with us but with Athletic Cup and League champion. The only thing he did with us was try to bite us to get the most out of it. He has a lot of affection for us on a personal level, another thing is that we did not fulfill the role he wanted in football and that is totally legal.