Iñigo Córdoba “I Demand More Goals And Assists From Myself This Season”
Iñigo Córdoba is starting his second season with the Athletic Club first team and is ready to take on a bigger role. The 21-year-old is now wearing the Number 11 shirt and recognizes the history that it carries. In a recent exclusive interview with Iñaki Ugaldo of Mundo Deportivo he said that he is very happy to wear the number, but wants to prove he deserves it with his performances on the field.
“The number is not something that is important. The important thing is the game and how you perform on the field, but I’m very happy to wear Athletic’s 11. Last year Iñaki wore it but he preferred to take the 9 shirt so I got the 11. It is a historic number worn by players like Rojo and Argote and I’m very happy to wear it.”
Córdoba went on to discuss the fact that he was always playing with older kids when he first came to Lezama. Despite having a difficult season as a team under Kuko Ziganda last year, the winger doesn’t know where he would be without the coach’s confidence in him and the opportunities he was given.
“When I first arrived at Lezama I was with the Alvein group, but I was already participating in tournaments and that kind of thing with the Infantil team. If it wasn’t for Kuko I don’t know where I would be today. I’m very grateful to him for giving me the opportunity and trusting me. I wish him the best wherever he goes. It was a tough year because you always expect everything to go well in your debut season. Debuting with Athletic is an objective that is wonderful to accomplish but you have to have a bitter taste with how the year went.”
Last season was one that fans are already trying to forget. Córdoba admitted that he wanted things to go better collectively in his debut year, but recognizes that sometimes football can be difficult. Still, he never would’ve believed that he would have been able to play so much in just his first season.
“We suffered a lot. In world football there are all kinds of situations and you have to know how to adapt. Last year, my first year, I expected it to have gone better collectively but we didn’t have that luck. Sometimes you have to suffer and last year was one of those rare years. We hope to turn things around this season. I’m satisfied with how I played in my debut year. I finished with 41 games and if you had told me at the beginning of the season that Nuñez and I would have all the minutes and opportunities that we had, we wouldn’t have believed it. Now I demand more goals and assists from myself this season. I scored my first goal against Villarreal and I will never forget it, but I hope to score at the San Mamés as soon as possible.”
Everyone says that a player’s second season is always harder than the first. That is something that Córdoba and Unai Nuñez are hoping to avoid this year. The 21-year-old is very excited about new manager Eduardo Berizzo’s style of play and says that the team as a whole are happy with the ideas. It isn’t a system that can be perfected immediately, but there has been constant improvement.
“They say that the second season is always harder than the first, but Unai [Nuñez] and I hope that isn’t the case for us. We are going to compete every day at 100% and every day we will grit our teeth and work hard. Berizzo has a very definitive idea of how he wants to play. We must play a tight game and have a lot of the ball. It’s a style that we feel very comfortable with and little by little we are improving. It isn’t something that you can perfect in one or two games, but the players are very happy with the idea.”
Under Berizzo Córdoba has been able to play on both wings and says that is where he is most comfortable. Still, he just wants to enjoy regular minutes and is at the disposal of the coach. The new system demands that every player run a lot and the team is ready to do that because they know that success that it can bring.
“It is a very sacrificial style and you have to run a lot. If the coach demands it that is because we are capable of doing it. We are a team with great players who can do that job. I just want to play so I’m happy having minutes wherever the coach puts me. Normally I play on the wing and I’m comfortable there. From time to time I also like to play inside. I like to learn from other players who are in my position on other teams.”
In closing, Iñigo Córdoba took the time to praise his siblings. His little brother Asier, who is also a winger, is currently playing with Bilbao Athletic and he hopes that they will one day be at the San Mamés together. His older brother and little sister both play for Leioa and Iñigo loves to go watch them whenever he has the opportunity.
“My little brother Asier is already playing with Bilbao Athletic. I hope that he can have a good season and let’s see if we can get to play on the same team soon. Talking about brothers playing for Athletic I can’t remember who the last ones were. I think the Salinas brothers, Julio and Patxi. My older brother Aitor plays for Leioa and so does my little sister. He is the captain and every time I have the chance I go to watch him and my sister play.”
This season is going to be an important one for Iñigo Córdoba. The 21-year-old has already shown signs of improvement and is ready to be a more important player under Berizzo. He hopes to score more goals and provide more assists in his second year, but the most important thing is the success of the team. With the international break about to start Athletic will have two weeks to finish preparing for their next game which will see Real Madrid visit the San Mamés on 15 September.