Athletic Club Have 10 Players From Danok Bat In Their Preseason Squad
Despite being a very big club in La Liga, Athletic has always worked alongside smaller clubs in the Basque Country to help promote growth and stability for football in the region. The Lions often invite other teams to participate in tournaments, play friendlies, and are sometimes even guest opponents for special matches to celebrate anniversaries. Athletic has great relationships with many clubs in the area and Danok Bat is one of the most special.
Danok Bat is a local youth academy in Bilbao that trains and develops footballers all the way through Juvenil A. Their philosophy is to prepare young footballers to become professionals so that they are free to choose the club they want to join when they leave the academy. They do not have a sole partnership with Athletic, with many players choosing to join other clubs across Spain, but they do have a special relationship with the Lions.
Danok Bat play matches at Mallona which is just 15 minutes away from the San Mamés. Many of the players at the academy are from Bizkaia and have grown up dreaming of playing for Athletic Club and for some that becomes a reality. Throughout the years many players have come to Lezama from Danok Bat and as of right now there are 7 players in the first team that spent time at the historic academy. That number could rise to 10 with three players from Bilbao Athletic, who were once enrolled at Danok Bat, getting the chance to train with the senior squad this summer.
Iago Herrerín, Iñigo Lekue, Ander Capa, Yeray, Unai Nuñez, Mikel Rico and Sabin Merino all spent time at Danok Bat when they were younger and are now living their dreams of playing for Athletic Club. Some spent a long time at the academy, such as Lekue who graduated from Danok Bat after 12 years before joining Basconia, while others were only there for a short while like Yeray who was enrolled for one year. Additionally, there will be three players from Bilbao Athletic training with the first team this summer that also spent time at Danok Bat – Iñigo Muñoz, Andoni López, and Iñigo Vicente. There are many others with ties to Danok Bat currently at Lezama as well.
As time passes Athletic’s relationship with Danok Bat will continue to grow. The historic academy continues to produce talented young footballers who can go on to do great things and for many training within the shadow of the San Mamés fuels a childhood dream. Just as Athletic seeks to hold to their unique values, youth academies like Danok Bat remain integral to football in the Basque Country.