Iker Muniain Scores Vital And Emotional Goal In Unforgettable Return From Injury
In late September Iker Muniain’s season looked over before it could even get going. He suffered a torn ACL which meant a serious surgery and months of rehabilitation lay before him. Losing the winger also significantly affected the team who struggled on the pitch without his creativity and flare. For most athletes, a torn ACL means their season is finished, but Muniain worked hard from day one with the goal of coming back before the end of the campaign. That work paid off in a big way.
A few weeks ago he was medically cleared to return to action and was named in the squad to face Celta Vigo last weekend. Muniain did not feature in that game, but it became clear that he would would his return in Monday’s game against Villarreal. With the score set at 2-1 in favor of Athletic, Muniain replaced Markel Susaeta with 15 minutes left and his team needing a spark to fend off their hosts. The energy immediately picked up and was capped off when Muniain scored a goal to seal the victory for the Lions. It was the perfect return. The perfect moment. The perfect story.
You could immediately see the intensity and passion in Muniain’s face as he celebrated. Six months of hard work and recovery had paid off and the injury was behind him. His moment had come. He had gone through so much in hopes of getting back on the field and here he was scoring a vital goal within ten minutes of his return. The celebration was emotional, but no one will ever know just how much it meant to Muniain. His teammates beamed with excitement and for the first time in six months everything felt right again.
After the game the 25-year-old admitted that it had been hard working for so long and just dreaming of returning to the pitch. He was happy to score a goal and dedicated it to everyone who has been there for him during his difficult six months of recovery. In true Muniain fashion, he kept the focus on the team, making it clear that the Lions will not give up their pursuit of seventh place. Muniain is as Athletic as they come, and the club’s success remained his top priority on a night when everyone else was celebrating him.
“It has been very exciting after so much time working and wanting to return. I am very happy and I had a lot of things going through my head when I scored my goal. I dedicate it to my family, my friends, the fans and all those who have helped me. It is a night to enjoy also because we won on a difficult field. It had been 14 years since Athletic won here in the league, but spells are meant to be broken. It was a great match and I also think we played great against Celta, but we couldn’t win. This club never gave up and never will give up. While there is the possibility to fight for seventh place we will fight will all our strength. Hopefully we can cut the point gap even more next week and get closer to our goal.”
Muniain’s return has brought life back into Athletic. His energy, charisma, and flair has been desperately missed and you can feel it’s presence back in the team. There are truly remarkable players in every team that just can’t be replaced and Muniain is that for Athletic. Like his return from ACL surgery, his goal against Villarreal was an awakening. Even though the Lions were winning 2-1, Villarreal had the momentum and were pushing for an equalizer. Muniain’s goal sealed the victory and truly decided the game. Sometimes a story or a moment can take your breath away and leave you speechless and that is what Monday night was for Athletic fans. Muniain’s return was so special that it can’t be put into adequate words. Suffice it to say that Iker Muniain is back and it is a bigger deal than anyone really understands.