The world is tired of hearing that Aritz Aduriz has aged like a fine wine. The problem is, that is the best way to describe his career. The 36-year-old is Athletic Club’s most prolific scorer and a living legend at the San Mames. Despite his age the striker is still playing at a world class level and has shown no signs of slowing down. On Monday he gave an exclusive interview with El Correo and opened up about a lot of issues. To begin with, he discussed new manager Cuco Ziganda and the excitement he has brought to the team.
“There was a change in the coaching staff. There are different workouts and drills. When you have been with the same coach for years, although we were very comfortable and excited, a change can re-energize the group. That is what has happened these two weeks. We are eager to start competing and very excited about what is to come. Results always make you feel good, even though this time of year they aren’t the most important thing. We are still getting to know each other and we are working hard. It is important to prepare our best for the 27th and the Mister is making sure that happens. Personally, I am doing alright. I don’t have any discomfort and haven’t hurt at all. I am doing very, very well in the physical aspect. That allows me to train hard.”
When asked about Athletic’s goals for the upcoming season, Aduriz said that making a run at the Europa League final would be something really special. It is a different type of competition and the players are preparing hard to be able to stake their claim.
“Obviously we are aware that in both the League and Cup we have very strong opponents and it is very difficult to win those titles. There is more openness in the European competitions of recent years. In the Europa League the rivals are difficult as well, but we are motivated because we believe we are one of those teams. The Europa League is totally different and we are excited about it. We are training very hard and are doing our best to prepare for the first game and we will be ready to compete.”
The striker admitted that last year wasn’t that easy due to picking up several minor injuries. Still, physical issues did not cause him to consider retiring from football because he is still enjoying being a player every single day.
“I had several small injuries throughout the year. It started with an ankle, then a hip, then a muscle. When you aren’t physically 100% it can affect your entire game. The last couple of months I was much better. Now I want to follow that form and I feel very good. Do injuries make me think about the future? For the moment, I have not had any symptoms of my body telling me to rethink playing. I am enjoying every day. I feel good and I’m not thinking further down he road. It is true when you have physical problems you can have some doubts, that is inevitable, but truthfully that hasn’t happened.”
At his age, people have questioned how Aduriz can stay motivated. When asked about it, the 36-year-old said that every part of being a footballer still motivates him. There is no secret to his longevity and career, he just loves the game. He still has goals that he wants to accomplish too, like winning a title with Athletic and moving the barge.
“I am very motivated, everything motivates me. Making a good pass, scoring a goal, having a good training, winning a header, making an assist, everything motivates me. All the small things of the day to day are the things that motivate me. I try to improve all aspects that I can improve and I want to continue performing at a high level and to score as many goals as possible. I want to achieve something great with Athletic. That is what motivates me the most. What is my secret? I enjoy it all. Games, day to day, I enjoy it. It all boils down to the fact that I have a great time and that motivates me to push myself every day. I have things left that I want to achieve. I want to win a title with Athletic and move the barge. That would be great! We all dream of it.”
Aduriz says that he has embraced the role of the being the oldest player in team and that he still tries to learn from everyone, even the youngest players in the squad. He isn’t really thinking about the future at the moment, but prefers to live every day as intensely as possible. Right now, he is 100% focused on having the best season possible with Athletic Club.
“I am aware that I am the oldest in the squad, but it is all a question of mentality. I enjoy everyone and I learn from everyone, even from the youngest like Villalibre and Cordoba. I have a good time with them and I enjoy being around the team. I still have a lot of contact with other friends like Iraola and Gurpegui. You know, football is something that is day to day. If in two days you can’t contribute anymore then you are no longer worth it. You have to perform every day and every game. At the moment I have a contract for this year and I will try to have the best year possible and improve what I can. That is always the objective, to keep improving and contributing the maximum. It is unavoidable to think about saying goodbye, but I prefer to live intensely every day. If you are thinking of other things then you are not 100% focused. I am not thinking further ahead and I just want to enjoy this moment.”
In closing, Aduriz admitted that he doesn’t feel like a special case. He believes that players can have longer careers in today’s game and that he is still looking for ways to improve. He is thankful for the game of football because it has given him everything.
“Am I tired of hearing about my age? The opposite actually. It is a source of pride and I don’t refuse it. I feel overpowered by everything I have experienced in my life and by everything I have accomplished. I believe that players are playing longer now, with more quality and retiring later in their careers. I do not feel special or anything. Playing at the San Mames is something unique, something special. To feel that affection, that support…It is inevitable to be moved by hearing your name chanted. Athletic and football has given me everything. I have learned practically everything I know because of it. Speaking in public, human relations, traveling, everything I have learning in life is because of football. I am lucky to live this life because it has given me many things.”
Aritz Aduriz will once again be a vital piece of Athletic’s team this season. He and the rest of the Lions be kick off their season on 27 July when they face Dinamo Bucuresti in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier. The Lions have high hopes for the European tournament this season and they will have to conquer the Romanians if they are to advance to the next round.