Kepa: I Am Happy Where I Am
Kepa Arrizabalaga recently returned from international duty with the Spain National Team and was right back in training with Athletic Club. The 22-year-old ha become the first-choice goalkeeper over the last few months and has been integral to Athletic’s success. On Thursday he took the time to speak to the media and was quick to thank Spain coach, Julen Lopetegui, for calling him up and said that he hopes to have more calls in his career.
“It showed the confidence in me and I thanked the coach. I will try to work hard to have more calls. I am focused on Athletic and being called up is a result of what I have done with my club. I will continue giving my all for Athletic and I hope there are more calls. Playing more for Spain U21? No one can complain about a call from the main team, it is an important step in your career. It was difficult not to play and hear about an injured teammate (Yeray) but it was nice to be in the main team and I will try to be back.”
When asked about what he has done to earn so much praise at Athletic Club, Kepa said that all he does is try to work hard. He came to Lezama at a young age and has done everything in his power to reach the first team and achieve his childhood dream.
“I just try to focus on what I can do and improve, not what any critics say. I have to focus on getting better day to day. The family that I come from and the people we are I am Athletic and always have been. I came to Lezama at 9 years old and have gone through every youth level. What you are working for every day is to get to the first team, but when you at the academy it seems distant and difficult. But that is the goal. I’m happy to be where I am and to have come from where I did, but staying in the team is difficult. I have said it before, my dream is to win a title with Athletic Club.”
Kepa went on to say that when he returned from loan last summer he didn’t quite expect to be where he is today. When asked about the possibility of Gorka Iraizoz renewing, the keeper said he has no idea what will happen but that he is happy to have learned so much from the former starter.
“It was nice to return in the preseason after being out on loan. If I were given the choice, to be in this position I am in, back then I would’ve signed up immediately. I have continued to work hard and I right now I am playing. Iraizoz? I do not know if he will continue, it’s not something we have talked about. But we have a great, healthy relationship. Last year and the previous year I was away on loan, but before I have shared every season with him and learned from him. Every time he plays he demonstrates his great quality and he has spent many years defending the Athletic goal. It has been great learning from him.”
Being such a talented young keeper it is natural that other clubs will begin to take notice. One reporter asked Kepa about his future at Athletic and the rumors that an extension will be coming soon. The 22-year-old said that he has a contract until 2018 and that he is happy where he is. He isn’t really thinking about the future, just playing football.
“I have a contract this year and next year, until 2018 and I am happy. If there were a renewal to announce it would have already been done. I am just focused on this stretch of season because we have to play a lot. I have a lot of contract left, a whole other year. I am very calm about it and more focused on the sport, which is more important right now. My goal is to finish the season strong and be in Europe next year.”
In closing, Kepa looked ahead to the match against Osasuna saying that it will not be an easy game. Their Basque rivals are currently at the bottom of the table and desperate for points. The keeper also said that the team won’t know about Yeray’s availability until tomorrow’s training session before the game.
“We are back to training and have had quality sessions. The break is always good to recover and now we have to be prepared for our next match. This is our next chance to add points, but it will be complicated. Osasuna is not in a good place and they are aware that every game is a final for them. Playing in front of their fans against us makes them want to win. Historically, matches in El Sadar have been intense. In our first meeting they complicated things and took a point. They will try to press us, so we have to control the game. They leave five at the back so you have to be a bit different with how you attack. It is important to get ahead fast and play with intensity. Will Yeray play? He took a hard blow and his nose was badly affected. I don’t know if he will play. Tomorrow, the day before the game, the coach will see what condition he is in.”
According to rumors in Bilbao, Kepa is close to signing an extension until at least 2021. The keeper was understandably unwilling to talk about the future, but the Lions are working very hard to tie up the Lezama standout. Kepa has always been destined to man the goal at the San Mames and he has finally reached that goal.