|Full name||Athletic Club|
|Nickname(s)||Los Leones / Lehoiak|
Rojiblancos / Zuri-gorriak
|Head coach||Gaizka Garitano|
|2018-19||La Liga, 8th|
Athletic Club, also commonly known as Athletic Bilbao (Basque: Bilboko Athletic Kluba / Spanish: Athletic Club de Bilbao), is a Spanish professional football club based in the city of Bilbao in the Basque Country (Spain). They are known as Los Leones (The Lions) because their stadium was built near a church called San Mamés (Saint Mammes). Mammes was an early Christian thrown to the lions by the Romans. Mammes pacified the lions and was later made a saint and The team plays it's home matches at the San Mamés Stadium.
Athletic have won La Liga on eight occasions, fourth most in the history of the league. In the table of Copa del Rey titles, Athletic is second only to Barcelona, having won it 23 times.[note 1] The club also has one of the most successful women's teams in Spain, which has won five championships in the Primera División Femenina.
The club is one of three founding members of the Primera División that have never been relegated from the top division since its inception in 1929, the others being Real Madrid and Barcelona. These three clubs, along with Osasuna, are the only four professional clubs in Spain that are not sports corporations; instead they are owned and operated by club members. Athletic's main rivals are Real Sociedad, against whom it contests the Basque derby, and Real Madrid, due to sporting and political rivalry. At various points in the club's history, further Basque league derbies have been contested against Alavés, Eibar and Osasuna.
The club is known for its cantera policy of bringing young Basque players through the ranks, as well as recruiting players from other Basque clubs like Joseba Etxeberria and Javi Martínez. Athletic's official policy is signing professional players native to or trained in football in the greater Basque Country, which includes Biscay, Gipuzkoa, Álava and Navarre (in Spain); and Labourd, Soule and Lower Navarre (in France). Since 1912, Athletic has played exclusively with players meeting its own criteria to be deemed as Basque. This can be seen as a unique case in European football; it has gained Athletic both admirers and critics. The club has been praised for promoting home grown players and club loyalty. The rule does not apply to coaching staff, with several examples of non-Basque coaches both from Spain and abroad having coached the first team.
Despite the implications of the name 'Athletic Club' in English, and unlike some of the other major Spanish teams which have several departments, it is not a multi-sport club, participating only in football, although sections for cycling and others existed prior to the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
Football was introduced to Bilbao by two distinct groups with British connections; British workers and Basque students returning from schools in Britain. In the late 19th century, Bilbao was a leading industrial town and attracted many migrant workers, including miners from the north-east of England, and shipyard workers from Southampton, Portsmouth and Sunderland. They brought with them the game of football, and came together to form Bilbao Football Club. Meanwhile, sons of the Basque educated classes went to Britain to complete their studies, developed an interest in football and on their return began to arrange games with British workers. In 1898, students founded the Athletic Club, using the English spelling.
In 1901, a meeting held in the Café García established more formal rules and regulations. In 1902, the two clubs formed a combined team, known as Bizcaya, in the first Copa del Rey and won the competition. This led to the eventual merger of the two clubs as Athletic Club in 1903. In the same year, Basque students also formed Athletic Club Madrid which later evolved into Atlético Madrid. The club itself declares 1898 as its foundation date.
The club featured prominently in early Copas del Rey. Following the inaugural win by Club Bizcaya, the newly formed Athletic Bilbao won it again in 1903. In 1904, they were declared winners after their opponents failed to turn up. In 1907, they revived the name Club Vizcaya after entering a combined team with Union Vizcaino. After a brief lull, they won again in 1911 and then three times in a row between 1914 and 1916. The star was Pichichi, who scored the first goal at the San Mamés stadium in 1913 and a hat-trick in the 1915 cup final. The La Liga top scorer award is named in his honour.
Other Basque clubs such as Real Unión, Arenas Club de Getxo and Real Sociedad were also founding members of La Liga in 1928 and by 1930 they were joined by CD Alavés; five of the ten clubs in the Primera División were from the Basque Country. The saying "Con cantera y afición, no hace falta importación", translated as "With home-grown teams and support, there is no need for import", made sense during these early days.
In 1921, a new British coach, Fred Pentland, arrived; in 1923, he led the club to victory in the Copa del Rey. He revolutionised the way Athletic played, favouring the short-passing game. In 1927, Pentland left Athletic but returned in 1929 and led the club to La Liga/Copa del Rey doubles in 1930 and 1931. The club won the Copa del Rey four times in a row between 1930 and 1933 and they were also La Liga runners-up in 1932 and 1933. In 1931, Athletic defeated Barcelona 12-1, the latter's worst-ever defeat.
Athletic's success under British coaches continued with William Garbutt. His first season in Spain was a massive success as he managed to win the Liga that year. He had inherited a talented squad which included strikers Guillermo Gorostiza and Bata.
Garbutt promoted the young Ángel Zubieta to the first team, a player who at 17 years of age went on to become the youngest ever to play for the Spanish national team at the time. In the final game of the season, the title was decided when Athletic defeated Oviedo 2-0 at home on 19 April 1936, winning the title just two points clear of Real Madrid. In July 1936, football halted due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The league did not restart until the 1939-40 season. Athletic Club did not win the title again until 1943 and by that time Garbutt had been exiled.
In 1941, the club changed its name to Atlético Bilbao, following a decree issued by Franco. The same year Telmo Zarra made his debut. He went on to score 294 goals in all competitions for Athletic. His 38 goals in the 1950-51 season stood as a record for 60 years.
In 1943, the club won a double and retained the Copa in both 1944 and 1945. During the early 1950s, the club featured the legendary forward line of Zarra, Panizo, Rafa Iriondo, Venancio and Agustín Gaínza. They helped the club win another Copa del Generalisimo in 1950. Coach Ferdinand Dau?ík led the team to another double in 1956 and to more Copa victories in 1955 and 1958. In 1956 the club also made their debut in the European Cup.
The 1970s were not much better, with only another single Copa del Rey win in 1973. In December 1976, before a game against Real Sociedad, Iribar and Sociedad captain Inaxio Kortabarria carried out the Ikurriña, the Basque flag, and placed it ceremonially on the centre-circle - this was the first public display of the flag since the death of Francisco Franco. In 1977, the club reached the final of the UEFA Cup, only losing on away goals to Juventus. By then the Franco regime also ended and the club reverted to using the name Athletic.
In 1981, Javier Clemente became manager. He put together one of the most successful teams in the club's history. In 1983 the club won La Liga, and in 1984 they won a La Liga/Copa del Rey double. In 1985 and 1986, Athletic finished third and fourth respectively. Clemente's Athletic acquired notoriety for its aggressive style of play. The club has failed to win a major trophy since the success of the era. A succession of coaches that included José Ángel Iribar, Howard Kendall, Jupp Heynckes and Javier Irureta and even a returning Clemente failed to reproduce his success.
In 1998, coach Luis Fernández led the club to second in La Liga and UEFA Champions League qualification. Fernández benefited from the club adopting a more flexible approach to the cantera. In 1995, Athletic had signed Joseba Etxeberria from regional rivals Real Sociedad, causing considerable bad feeling between the two clubs. Etxeberria was a prominent member of the 1997-98 squad, along with Rafael Alkorta and Julen Guerrero.
The club narrowly avoided relegation during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, the latter being the worst in the club's history. In the Copa del Rey, they reached their first final in 24 years, losing 4-1 to Barcelona.
Prior to the 2011-12 season, Athletic's new president, former player Josu Urrutia, brought in coach Marcelo Bielsa; Athletic advanced to their first European final since 1977, losing 3-0 to Spanish rivals Atlético Madrid on 9 May in the 2012 UEFA Europa League Final at the Arena Na?ional? in Bucharest. They also reached the 2012 Copa del Rey Final, losing again to Barcelona.
After star midfielder Javi Martínez moved to FC Bayern Munich, Athletic were eliminated from the 2012-13 Europa League group stage, and were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Basque club Eibar of the third tier. Relegation was a threat until the end of the season, and the final league game at the "old" San Mamés ended in defeat. Athletic would soon move to a new stadium, albeit in a partially completed state. Bielsa promoted young French defender Aymeric Laporte into the side, while striker Fernando Llorente completed a free transfer to Juventus.
After Bielsa, Ernesto Valverde returned for a second spell as manager, and he signed or brought through several new players as Athletic came fourth in the league, meaning a UEFA Champions League campaign. Ander Herrera transferred to Manchester United for EUR36 million deal at the end of the season.
Athletic had a triumphant first full-capacity match in the new San Mamés as they defeated Napoli to qualify for the Champions League group stage, however they could only finish 3rd in the group. Athletic reached the 2015 Copa del Rey Final, but once again lost to Barcelona, 3-1.
In the first leg of the 2015 Supercopa de España at San Mamés, Athletic defeated Barcelona 4-0, with Aritz Aduriz scoring a hat-trick. In the return leg at Camp Nou, Athletic hung on with a 1-1 draw to win their first trophy since 1984. Aduriz finished with 36 goals in all competitions. Athletic advanced to the quarter-finals in the Europa League where they were only defeated on penalties by the holders and eventual repeat winners Sevilla FC.
Valverde left his position at the end of the 2016-17 season after four years. It was confirmed that his successor would be former player José Ángel Ziganda, moving up from Bilbao Athletic. On 29 November the club suffered a shock defeat to SD Formentera in the domestic cup. At the conclusion of a poor season overall, Ziganda was dismissed and Eduardo Berizzo was appointed. However, his spell was even less fruitful and in December 2018, having won just two of his fifteen matches at the helm and with the team in the relegation zone, Berizzo was dismissed. B-team coach Gaizka Garitano took over and oversaw an improvement in results, with the club moving well out of danger and narrowly missing out on a Europa League spot on the last day.
The beginning of the 2019-20 season saw more consistent results. After the first five games of the season, the Lions sat at the top of the table, their best start in 26 years. That form could not be maintained, and by the halfway point they had slipped to mid-table after several draws. However, in the Copa del Rey, they survived two penalty shootouts against second-tier opponents and then defeated Barcelona to reach the semi-finals.
Athletic began playing in an improvised white kit, but in the 1902-03 season, the club's first official strip became half-blue, half-white shirts similar to those worn by Blackburn Rovers, which were donated by Juan Moser. Later, a young student from Bilbao named Juan Elorduy, who was spending Christmas 1909 in London, was charged by the club to buy 25 new shirts, but was unable to find enough. Waiting for the ship back to Bilbao and empty handed, Elorduy realised that the colours of the local team Southampton matched the colours of the City of Bilbao, and bought 50 shirts to take with him. Upon arriving in Bilbao, the club's directors decided almost immediately to change the team's strip to the new colours, and since 1910, Athletic Club have played in red and white stripes. Of the 50 shirts bought by Elorduy, half were then sent to Atlético Madrid, where Elorduy was a committee member and a former player; it had originally begun as a youth branch of Athletic Bilbao. Before the switch from blue and white to red and white, only one other team wore red and white, Sporting de Gijón, since 1905.
Athletic were one of the last major clubs who did not have the logo of an official sponsor emblazoned on their kit. In the UEFA Cup and the Copa del Rey of 2004-05, the shirt sported the word "Euskadi" in green in exchange for hundreds of thousands of euros from the Basque Government (Red, white and green are the Basque colours). This policy was changed in 2008, when Athletic made a deal with the Biscay-based Petronor oil company to wear their logo in exchange for over EUR2 million. In 2011, Athletic revealed a new away kit that was inspired by the Basque flag. The Kutxabank logo now adorns the front of Athletic's kits.
Between 2001 and 2009 Athletic also manufactured their own playing kit, under the brand 100% Athletic and utilising the small design from their centenary celebrations as a manufacturer's logo.
Athletic's shield has incorporated the escutcheons of Bilbao and Biscay. From the shield of Bilbao, it takes the bridge and the church of San Anton, and the wolves from the powerful Haro family, who were lords of Biscay and founders of Bilbao in 1300. From the shield of Biscay it takes Guernica's tree and the cross of San Andrés. Its first documentary record dates from 1922.
Among its history, the shield of the club has been developing and changing in form. So, the first official shield was a blue circle with the letters A and C in the middle. The second one was from 1910, that was a red and white flag with a white square in the left side, in which there are the initials of the club. The third one, from 1913, was also a red and white flag, but in this case surrounding a platoon (this is similar to the Real Sociedad crest still in use today).
The first version of the actual shield is from 1922, it still was a really simple version that was changing of form with the years until having three different versions. Finally, in 1941 the first version of the current shield was created, but the name "Atlético Bilbao" was used when Generalissimo Francisco Franco outlawed all non-Spanish names during his fascist reign. In 1970, the club added colors to the shield and recovered the original English "Athletic Club" name. In 2008, the shape of the shield was slightly altered and a new "Athletic Club" typeface was introduced.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Head coach||Gaizka Garitano|
|Assistant coach||Patxi Ferreira|
|Technical coach||Alberto Iglesias|
|Physical coach||Juan Ángel Iribarren|
|Goalkeeper coach||Aitor Iru|
|Head of medical service||Josean Lekue|
|Nurses||Juanma Ipiña, Álvaro Campa|
|Physiotherapists||Beñat Azula, Isusko Ortuzar|
|Regenerative therapist||Xabier Clemente|
|Materials managers||Jon Eskalza, Iker López|
The current board is presided by Aitor Elizegi, businessman by profession, whose candidacy was successful during the elections in December, succeeding the previous president, Josu Urrutia. There were a total of 19,340 votes. Elizegi was the winner with 9,264 votes (47.9%), while opposition candidate Alberto Uribe-Echevarría garnered 9,179 (47.46%). 781 (4.04%) members voted blank and 116 (0.6%) remaining votes were considered invalid.
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor|
|Season||League||Cup||Europe||Other Comp.||Top scorer|
|2014-15||1D||7th||38||15||10||13||42||41||55||RU||Champions League||GS||Europa League||R32||Aritz Aduriz||26|
|2015-16||1D||5th||38||18||8||12||58||45||62||QF||Europa League||QF||Supercopa de España||W||Aritz Aduriz||36|
|2016-17||1D||7th||38||19||6||13||53||43||63||R16||Europa League||R32||Aritz Aduriz||24|
|2017-18||1D||16th||38||10||13||15||41||49||43||R32||Europa League||R16||Aritz Aduriz||20|
Pos. = Position; Pl. = Match played; W = Win; D = Draw; L = Lost; GS = Goal Scored; GA = Goal Against; Pts = Points
Colors: Gold = winner; Silver = runner-up; Cyan = ongoing
|Champion||Runner-up||Champions League classified||Europa League classified||Zarra Trophy|
The Lezama Facilities is the complex where all of the categories of Athletic train. It was opened in the 1971-72 season, under the presidency of Felix Oráa. At present, facilities include, inter alia, five natural grass fields, a gymnasium, a pediment, a medical center and a residence for young players. Lezama has undergone remodeling since 1995 under the presidency of José María Arrate with the construction of new roads and parking entry and exit able to absorb the large number of vehicles that come every day, and a platform cover bringing greater convenience to fans attending the matches of the youth teams and other youth football teams.
The Board has given the green light to the so-called "Lezama Master Plan"[when?], which was founded with the purpose of modernizing the structures of both the youth teams and first team. The "Plan" is the result of a rigorous study of the basic needs for the future of the Athletic Club. The work will take place over the course of two to three years and its budget is around EUR12 million. The Club is committed to consolidate its cantera structure, which is the basis for the future of the Club and in this regard Lezama will be expanded to classrooms for youth work in the lower categories and create an audiovisual department.