Joseba Etxeberria is a living legend of Athletic Club. The forward affectionately known as El Gallo is one of the best to ever wear the Txurrigorri shirt and carries the club in his heart at all times. Ever since his playing days ended back in 2010, Etxeberria has dreamed of managing Athletic Club and recently began taking the steps necessary to make that a reality. He served under Ernesto Valverde before taking over as the manager of feeder club CD Basconia, but it became clear that he would have to leave Bilbao to get the valuable experience needed.
Over the summer Etxeberria had an offer to take over as manager of Amorebieta in the Segunda B, which saw him directly compete against Bilbao Athletic. To take the job he had to get permission from Athletic as he was still under contract so, in a way, he was loaned to Amorebieta. The 40-year-old was an instant success and his talent wouldn’t allow him to stay there very long. In February, Segunda club Tenerife were battling relegation and sacked their manager. They requested that Etxeberria become their new manager and Athletic and Amorebieta allowed the move to take place.
From the first day Etxeberria took over at Tenerife everything changed. Tenerife went unbeaten in their first five games under El Gallo, winning four of those. Since the change took place the club have now won seven out of twelve games and are now just three points off of sixth place in the table which is the last spot for the promotional playoff. It should be noted that they have lost their last three fixtures, but the fact that they are still deep in a promotional battle is a very big deal. Tenerife have found the manager that they needed and they want Etxeberria to extend his stay.
If Etxeberria is going to continue as Tenerife’s manager and sign a contract extension, he will have to sever ties with Athletic. Reports in the Basque Country now claim that all three parties have been in talks to discuss the issue and the Basque giants are expected to allow him to formally take over as Tenerife’s manager and sign a new deal with the Segunda side. In a recent interview Etxeberria stated “I have two years left on my contract with Athletic. I have to talk to them and see what they plan to do with me, but I am very happy at Tenerife”. While this might be strange for Athletic fans to hear, it is probably the best decision for the 40-year-old to continue gaining experience and growing as a coach. For now he is happy managing Tenerife but his ultimate goal is still to lead Athletic at the San Mamés and this decision could go a long way in seeing that dream become a reality.