Jokin Aperribay (Deba, 1966) faces the days before being able to become the third president in the history of the Real to win a title with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the previous job is well done. If he did, he would be the first to win this trophy in both the male and female categories. Conviction is not lacking.
How are you in the mood?
Calm and optimistic. I am lucky to live with the players and the coach and they transmit confidence.
What feelings do you have about the possibility of getting a title?
It is the longest final in history but it has already arrived. I want to enjoy the day and bring joy to the fans. It is a tremendous shame that the fans cannot be there, especially in our case that we have not played in a final for so many years. People under 40 years of age have experienced the runner-up or promotion, but do not remember seeing Real win a title. A final is a final.
Is playing without an audience going to detract from a hypothetical title?
I do not think so. It will remove that vital experience that involves remembering who or where you were when Real won the Cup, but it will be different.
Has the Cup final changed your personal agenda?
A little yes, although so far I have been able to work normally. Next week I have, above all, many international interviews, even with America or Asia.
Has the wait for the date dance been long?
No, because when the start of the League was set there were only two possible dates, taking into account the weeks occupied by European competition or by this year’s Cup: December 30 or April 3.
That is good to explain since there has been controversy for putting the final on this date in which the players will arrive after the selection break …
There were only these two dates and we arrived at December with six more games than Athletic. We were not very convinced because November and December for us were very busy months. And we didn’t want to play on a Saturday after playing in the Europa League on a Thursday. The lesser evil was playing the final after a League break.
Couldn’t another day of the League have been occupied as a result of the European elimination of Real?
It was late to organize it, especially if we wanted there to be an audience, to which we have all aspired.
Have you regretted postponing the final and not having played it when it was playing, without an audience?
No. First, because you had to try to play with a hobby. Second, because we have one more year of experience. Third, because it takes us in a moment of tranquility, in which we can assess the importance of the final, not in a whirlwind of playing Wednesday-Sunday.
Last year after the pandemic was not our best moment. It is very difficult to know what would have happened if he did not stop due to the pandemic, if we had had injuries because we had a high rhythm with important players
But don’t you agree that a year ago Real was much more favorite and that Athletic has improved?
Not for me. Last year after the pandemic was not our best moment. It is very difficult to know what would have happened if he did not stop due to the pandemic, if we had had injuries because we had a high rhythm with important players.
Has a lot of information been hidden in this process?
No. Perhaps it was the ignorance of how long the pandemic would last when it was chosen to try to play with the public, but the other option, that of the first game after the break, I don’t know if it would have been the best for us.
He has been president for 13 years. Who do you remember right now?
For the final, of the fans. Then there are times that I like to think about the managers of previous decades, the 60s, the 70s, the 80s … I have thought of all those people who have been in the club before me.
I am convinced that it will be in this final but my wish is to enter a process in which it does not take so long to be in another final, in the Cup or in a European competition
In 2019 they won the women’s Cup and now they can win the men’s. How does it feel to be a champion?
We had that experience, which was wonderful, but I would like Real to enter into a process in which they deserve to win. I am convinced that it will be in this final but my wish is to enter a process in which it does not take so long to be in another final, in the Cup or in a European competition.
Why has 33 years gone by without being in a final?
Sometimes you have to be lucky with the draw. In 2014, with Jagoba, we were close and we had no luck with the penalty not awarded to Vela in Barcelona, the red one to Iñigo, a legal goal annulled to Seferovic in the second leg … We have done something wrong not to be in 33 years a final. I am convinced that, with this young group of players, this is not a final where nothing ends, but rather a final where something begins. The Real champion had to be runner-up before, it was a process of a decade in which two Leagues, a Cup and the Super Cup were won, but in which there were also important runners-up such as titles.
How do you remember the 1987 Zaragoza final?
With great intensity, he was 21 years old. But I remember with the same intensity that of 1988 in Madrid or when we lost the League in Seville in 1980. In Zaragoza I was in the field, with my brother and my wife. A great summer night in which it was extremely hot and in which the night became I don’t know if it was long or short.
How do you remember the penalty shoot-out? Was he one of those who did not look?
No. I was a goalkeeper and if the goalkeeper doesn’t watch the penalties … I remember the famous “It’s okay, we have Arconada!” I was convinced that Luis was going to make us champions.
What would you give to be champion in Seville?
I haven’t thought about it. I am very excited and confident in being a champion and that it will be the beginning of something.
The final is not going to be won by a speech of mine because if the best in the world did not prepare for me. I am not important in this final
Do you sign to win on penalties?
I sign win. I don’t believe in the bad statistics of Real on penalties. I do believe that there are goalkeepers who can save more penalties than others. I sign to win, even if it is on penalty number 15.
What will you do the next day if they win?
I do not know. What I do know is that on Saturday for dinner I want the glass, cheese and wine.
Would you see the title as an icing on your tenure that ends in 2022?
No. I am not going to consider myself more champion because I am president. This club is already champion. I’m not going to live it with more emotion for being president than what I experienced in Gijón, in Zaragoza or when we won the Super Cup because you cannot live with more emotion than I experienced that. I would be very excited for a lot of people because the title belongs to the players and the fans. And I don’t mean it with a small mouth. I say this because I consider myself part of the team and part of the fans.
Doesn’t winning the Cup bring you closer to thinking that after promotion, the Champions League and the stadium, your work is already complete?
I do not attach the title to anything individual.
What have you told the players?
I do not plan to speak with them in the dressing room, perhaps individually in Zubieta or in Seville.
What would you say to them?
That convey a lot of confidence. They have been in European positions since August 2019. The final is not going to be won by a speech of mine because if the best in the world did not prepare for me. I am not important in this final.