After months of speculation, Athletic officially announced on Tuesday that Ernesto Valverde would not be continuing for a fifth season. The legendary manager gave his farewell press conference on Wednesday after and said his final goodbyes while saying that he believed it was time to move on so that someone else could lead the team. For several years the next man for the job was believed to be Bilbao Athletic manager Cuco Ziganda and that became official on Wednesday evening.
Athletic Club announced late on Wednesday that Cuco Ziganda had officially been promoted to the first team manager position and that he would be presented the following day at noon. He has signed a contract for the next two seasons.
“I could not have better news than to coach Athletic Club. I believe I am the right person for this role because I know this club, the fans, the players, and what kind of club this is. I am very excited because I see this team and I see the things that we can accomplish. I am very grateful and excited. I’m thankful to the club for this opportunity and believing in me. I am someone who identifies with this club. I have lived it and know it perfectly. I believe I am the right person.”
Ziganda has lead Bilbao Athletic since 2011, following stints at Osasuna and Xerez. He has done a fantastic job developing young talent for the first team and has a great relationship with current players and the board. Former players have said that he coaches with energy and builds relationships with his team, which is something that he will be looking to continue at the senior level.
Jose Angel Ziganda played in over 250 matches for Athletic as a forward and many close to him have said that his dream has been to coach the first team. When he took over the role as manager of Bilbao Athletic the plan was always to groom him for the role that he has just been handed. After seeing Athletic qualify for Europe in three consecutive seasons, perhaps four this year, fans have come to expect success from this team. Ziganda will have a lot of pressure to keep that success alive and the board and players have fully backed him for his new role as first team manager.