Athletic Legend Joseba Etxeberria Believes Iñigo Vicente Is Destined For Greatness

Athletic Club legend Joseba Etxeberria is the type of person that, when he talks, everyone listens. Not many people understand the game of football as well as El Gallo and the fact that he has now become a coach isn’t surprising to anyone. He began his coaching career back in 2012 managing a youth team in Lezama where he soon met a talented and promising young man – Iñigo Vicente. Now 20 years old, Vicente is one the doorsteps of the first team and his former coach and mentor recently took the time to discuss the starlet in an interview with El Correo.


Iñigo Vicente is closer than ever to the Athletic first team (Mireya López)

“Iñigo is a player who has magic and a talent that I have not seen in anyone else. He is able to draw from his imagination at any time. Technically he is very good and he comes up with things that do not occur to anyone else. But that talent can not remain alone, he has to continue working hard. We have talked about a lot of things and he has come to understand that what is does well is not good enough. He has to keep working to improve. Iñigo is passionate about football and it is usual to see him playing on a field somewhere in Bizkaia. He watches a lot of games and studies. He’s close to the first team and can be elite; he’s dedicated and now you see him less concerned with other interests.”

Etxeberria went on to admit that he used to play Vicente in other positions to force him to play more defense and improve his weak foot. It has obviously worked as these former weaknesses have not manifested themselves this season while playing with Bilbao Athletic. Most importantly, the 20-year-old has been less concerned with other activities and solely devoted to improving and becoming the best footballer that he can be.

“We (coaches at Lezama) have worked a lot with him because he is a pure talent that cannot be wasted. Being on the cusp of the first team has made his dedication and commitment stronger. Having a defensive mentality and making sacrifices are things that he doesn’t like, but he understands that they are essential if we wants to play in the first team. When he was playing at the youth level I put him on the left wing sometimes so that he would have more defensive commitment. He also had a lot of difficulties with his weak foot, but he has made tremendous progress. This year he has played some on the wing, but with freedom to move inside, much like Iker Muniain. But Muniain is more of a dribbler and Vicente has more of an eye for scoring. It’s possible that he could end up being a creator because he does so well reading the game and making passes, but he always has the goal between his eyes.”

Iñigo Vicente will spend the preseason training with the first team where he will be battling for a spot in the squad next season. This year at Bilbao Athletic he has already scored 10 goals and has played a major role in the team qualifying for the promotional playoffs. He already has one foot inside the San Mamés and is ready to take the next step. Meanwhile, Etxeberria recently rescinded his coaching contract with Athletic in order to officially take over at Tenerife where he has been successful thus far. He still dreams of managing Athletic Club and is using this time to improve as a coach. He is still a mentor to Vicente and the future looks very bright for both Lions.

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