Ismael Urzaiz is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers in Athletic Club history. In ten seasons at the San Mamés he featured in over 350 games and tallied over 100 goals. Despite Urzaiz’s long run at Athletic, he was eventually succeeded by a young Fernando Llorente in 2007. Today the 46-year-old is still close to the club and was recently a guest on Radio Marca Bilbao where he discussed the fact that Aritz Aduriz has surpassed his accomplishments for the Basque giants. The club legend says that the potential for greatness was always evident with Aduriz.
“Aduriz has surpassed me. What we have seen from him it is clear that he has surpassed me and I am glad. We need players to come out and surpass me and Aduriz and everyone else. This club needs those types of players. When he returned from Valladolid he was seen as a player who had grown up, he was going to explode. He was strong, fast, and explosive at that time. He lacked a little in finishing, but with time we have seen that developed. He’s always had the potential that we see today.”
Urzaiz went on to discuss Iñaki Williams who has been pegged to be Aduriz’s successor. The club legend says that the 23-year-old still needs to improve a lot and adapt to playing striker, but also believes that Athletic is the perfect club for that to happen. His speed is a valuable part of his game and Iñaki has the right outlook and approach to developing his game so that he can become a very special player for the Lions.
“Iñaki Williams is a different type of player. He is very fast and he will need time. If you give him time he will improve things and can play as the center forward. I recently said that I wouldn’t play him there yet, but now he is playing there and has had good games lately. The club has to give him more time to adapt to the position and he will give solid performances. He has some things to improve, but this is the best place for him to do that. He has an important weapon in his speed and he knows it. I think he’s a player who listens and wants to improve.”
Athletic Club has had a long run of strikers being able to take over for their predecessors. The line of Urzaiz, Llorente, and Aduriz may soon see Iñaki Williams take over next and that should have fans excited about the future. The 23-year-old still has a long way to go before he can be seen as a true center-forward, but there is no doubting that the potential and talent is there. With other strikers like Gorka Guruzeta and Ruben Azcona developing at the lower levels the future at the San Mamés looks bright.