Gil: When You Realize How Lucky You Are To Be At Athletic, You Don’t Want To Leave
It has been a long year for Oscar Gil. The Lezama product got to spend the preseason with the first team last summer, but was then sent on loan to Segunda side Real Oviedo. Despite initially being a major part of the team’s plan, Gil suffered a sports hernia that saw him miss nearly two months of action. In a recent interview with Javi Beltran of AS, the 21-year-old revealed that he has still learned a lot despite his limited minutes.
“I am happy, but I wish I played more minutes. When I started playing we have a couple of games where neither the team nor myself were at the expected level and then I had fewer opportunities. At first when they told me I was going to Real Oviedo I knew the coach wanted a defender with my characteristics. Oviedo was a good choice. After Christmas I had a sports hernia. I did not have an operation, but I stopped training for three weeks.”
The 21-year-old returned to training even though he was still feeling pain, which eventually resulted in missing another month of action. Still, his chance to play in a senior squad helped him experience things that he never would have at Lezama.
“We made the decision to start training again with a bit of pain. Within two weeks I had to stop again because I couldn’t kick the ball or run. I was out another month and then I gradually got incorporated back into the team. I’ve experienced situations in which I’ve never been, it is nothing like being in the Athletic reserve team. Even though I didn’t play as much as I would have liked, I was able to take advantage of being here. I have gone through bad and difficult times, but I know how to turn it around and this has given me a lot of experience.”
Gil was then asked about former Bilbao Athletic teammates, Markel Etxeberria and Gorka Santamaria, who also did not play much during their loan spells. He says that they spoke to one another regularly and that they have all had a great chance to learn a lot while away from Lezama.
“I have spoken with them from time to time. Despite not playing regularly, they are taking advantage of their training and chances. You have to keep improving and preparing yourself to be ready when called on. They will take it as a lesson because these are valuable chances outside of Lezama.”
One reason why Gil was not given a first team spot last summer is because he was beat out by teammate Yeray. Gil says that Yeray has always been a fantastic player and absolutely deserves the starting role that he earned last season. The defender also realizes that more Lezama players will get a chance at the first team this preseason so there will be more competition.
“Yeray and I climbed from the academy together and I had a lot of minutes in the preseason. It was an unforgettable experience. Valverde decided that Yeray would stay and that I would go on loan. I did not take it as a step backwards because I was going to the Segunda after playing in the Segunda B. Yeray has taken a very important step forward in his career and I’m happy for him. As a companion he is a great player. He deserves this, he’s earned it. Now I will be waiting to see if Athletic counts on me for next season. It would be a dream to go back and stay in the team. There will be competition. Villalibre, Cordoba, and Unai Nunez are going to be in the preseason and I know that they have worked very hard.”
In closing, Gil was asked about the rumors that Aymeric Laporte and Inaki Williams have received interest from other European clubs. The defender believes that they have earned that recognition, but doesn’t expect them to leave because Athletic is such a special club. He also touched on the possible signing of Mikel Merino and the incredible form of Ager Aketxe.
“There are a lot of players who had a very good year at Athletic so interest from other clubs is normal. I see if very difficult for them to leave because, unlike in other teams, players want to stay at Athletic. When you realize how lucky you are to be at Athletic, you don’t want to leave. I don’t know if Ziganda taking over will help me, we will have to see. It is a reward for the hard work he has done for the past six years. Ziganda has done very well and every year we were near the playoffs. He is going to do a great job at the first team. Mikel Merino signing? Everyone that can contribute and improve the team is welcome. I am not surprised by what he has been doing. Aketxe’s recent form? He has always been capable of great things. He is a phenomenal player.”
Oscar Gil will return to Athletic Club for another preseason and will get a second chance at earning a place in the first team. Cuco Ziganda is very familiar with the young defender from their days together at Bilbao Athletic, but there will be a lot of competition. If the 21-year-old is not able to cement his place, there will be plenty of suitors willing to take him on loan again next season.