Muniain: It Is Important To Defend This Shirt With Honor
Monday night’s 3-1 win over Villarreal at Estadio Cerámica was magical in more ways than one. Most notably, the 76th minute saw the return of Iker Muniain who had been out of action in September when he tore his ACL in a Europa League against Zorya Luhansk. Not only did the 25-year-old star make an emotional comeback, he also scored a late goal to silence Villarreal who were threatening for an equalizer. Muniain recently sat down with Ainara San Cristóbal of Mundo Deportivo to discuss the unforgettable and special night.
“It was a really exciting night because of what the goal meant, the victory, and the chance to return this season and in this way. I am very happy. I anticipated the ball being played there and I got it right so I was able to score. From the moment the ball was in the goal I had a lot of things running through my head. It was an emotional moment. I wanted to thank my teammates who have spent all this time supporting me, my family, and all the people who have helped me recover. This was for them.”
Muniain was asked where Monday night’s return ranked among other great moments in his career, such as his debut with the first team when he was only 16. He revealed that they are all grouped together because every moment is special and unforgettable. He also stated that he wanted to come back the right way so that he would be confident and not worried about the previous injury.
“They are all in one pack because they are unique moments that you will remember forever. Especially after having a difficult time having to work and recover it tastes better and I value it even more. It is a very beautiful moment that I will always remember. But I don’t want the good moment to stay here, I want to go for more. I have worked a lot and very hard, not only to return, but to do it in the best way possible…well prepared, secure, and confident. I have felt very strong in training and the sensations have been fantastic. It seems like time goes by quickly, but you have to be there day after day working for this to happen.”
When it comes to torn ACLs in sports it can be a very serious thing. Not only does it require surgery, but it also necessitates many months of physical therapy just to be able to move normally again. The fact that this wasn’t Muniain’s first time tearing an ACL made the entire process much easier, he said. In the end, being back on the field is what motivated him and took the pain away.
“The fact that this wasn’t the first time with this injury absolutely helped me because I knew what the road was going to be like and the phases of recovery. I have lived it before. What I wanted most was to be able to play again, to be on the field, because that it what makes me happy and it takes away the pain. I’m super happy. Now I want to enjoy playing, contribute a lot to the team, and finish with good sensations off of this recovery. I want to be at a high level before the next season comes, which is what I’m looking forward to and I think I can finish this season strong too.”
As he usually does, Muniain eventually turned the attention away from himself and put it back on Athletic. He said that he hopes the Lions can continue in the same form as their last two matches and believes that they can still challenge for seventh place in the La Liga table. Ultimately, he says that the most important thing is defending the Athletic shirt and making the fans happy.
“I hope we continue in this form. We have been playing well for two weeks now. Last week we couldn’t get the three points despite playing a good game. If we continue this way in the remaining games we could end the season with a good taste in our mouths and fight for our goal of seventh place. Why not? Reaching seventh place is our goal and there are still options to do it. But it is also important for us to finish strong and defend this shirt with honor and in the way the fans ask.”
Athletic Club have refused to give up pursuit of a top seven finish and currently trail by seven points with seven matches remaining on the calendar. If they can actually keep up their current form there is reason to believe that they will put pressure on the clubs above them, but it won’t be easy. Next up the Lions will host Deportivo La Coruña at the San Mamés on Saturday in what is definitely another must win game for the Basque giants.