With Gorka Iraizoz no longer at Athletic Club, Markel Susaeta has taken on the role of team captain. The 29-year-old has been at Athletic since he joined Lezama back in 1997 and is the most capped player in the current squad. While he did lost his starting role to Inaki Williams, he is still an integral part of the locker room and will have a big role this year. He recently spoke with EITB about his new role but began by saying the team will have to adapt to new manager Cuco Ziganda.
“We have a new coach so we all start from scratch. We are learning the new concepts and adapting ourselves to Ziganda. There are differences between every coach and Ziganda has his way of doing things. Now we have to adapt to the way the new coach does things. Almost everyone knows Ziganda and have been around him. It is good that we already have familiarity.”
Susaeta admitted that he didn’t play as much as he hoped last year and that he is working hard to earn more minutes. He is also excited about having younger players in the squad this summer and believes that they will help the team improve.
“Last year I did not play too much. You always want to play more, but the coach is the one who makes the decisions. I went to Lezama every day with the intention of working hard and trying to earn minutes. Now we have a new coach and we all have to win our positions. The captaincy is new to me and I hope I live up to previous captains. There are very good players here and now we have some more young guys who have a lot of pace and are working hard. They know Ziganda and they can contribute a lot to the team.”
In closing, Susaeta said that he and his teammates were very happy to shave their heads in support of Yeray. The club really misses the defender, but the most important thing is that he makes a full recovery.
“Shaving our heads? Yeray liked it. It made him happy and supported and that is the important thing. We miss him, but the important thing is that he recovers well and can return to be with us soon.”
Athletic Club are currently taking part in the Festival of the Alps and played their first preseason friendly on Friday. Susaeta and the Lions will be back in action on Saturday when they will face off with local side FC Sion. Athletic will begin their season in exactly two weeks when they place the first leg of their Europa League qualifier on 27 July. The draw for the tournament will take place on Friday, 14 July.