Ibai Gómez “I’m Proud And It’s A Pleasure To Come Back Home”
There’s no place like home and Ibai Gómez knows that as well as anyone. The 29-year-old was officially presented as an Athletic player on Friday at the San Mamés and couldn’t hide his excitement over returning to the club he’s loved since he was a child. During his press conference he admitted that when he left back in 2016 he was always hoping to come back and his heart led him to make this decision.
“Many factors went into this decision. I had an important two and a half years in Gasteiz. I’ve grown and I’m proud; it’s a pleasure to come back home. I’ve never hidden my feelings for Athletic and this decision, the biggest I’ve ever made, was made with my heart. I am very happy. It has been a very good two and a half years in Gasteiz and I want to thank everyone who has made it possible for me to be here. There is no better place for me than being at the Athletic. I went out to grow, to improve, but without forgetting my home and wanting to come back and feel Athletic. I come to contribute what I have and I hope we get out of the situation very soon.”
Gómez went on to say that he needed to leave the club in 2016 because he realized he was not playing his best football. He was in need of regular playing time and says that he is a completely different player now. After two and a half great years at Alavés he’s ready for the challenge of competing with Athletic once again.
“When I left I needed minutes, to play games. The last year and a half in Bibao was not good and I needed to play and prove to myself that it was possible to go back to playing the way I had in previous years. I’m a totally different player now. I’ve met people who have helped me in that aspect, both mentally and physically. I’m going to show that I’m a different player because just saying it doesn’t matter. I am ready to face this challenge. What I am sure of is that I’m going to sacrifice my soul for this shield. That’s the only thing I can promise, the rest I hope to prove on the field.”
Despite being a completely different player, Gómez says he’s still the same person. He wants to work hard to help the team and interact with the fans as much as possible. It’s a joy to return home and he promises the fans that he will give all he has for the team.
“I’ve always tried to do the same thing. I want to be better every day and every time I play contribute to make the team better. I want to train and improve. That’s my role and it’s always been the same. I like to interact with people and I feel very loved in Gasteiz and in Bilbao. The affection that people have always given me in Bilbao has been enormous, and what I promise is work.”
Gómez has signed a contract through 2022 that does not contain a release clause, being the fourth player in the squad to do so. He admitted that by returning to Athletic he’s home and that means that he isn’t interested in ever leaving again. He was also asked if he was afraid of the pressure that he struggled to deal with years ago, but said if that was the case he wouldn’t have come back.
“I’ve been Athletic since I was a kid. My only professional experience was Athletic until I joined Alavés. Now I can say part of my heart is also in Gasteiz. Everyone knows that this is my home and when you are home you don’t ever think of leaving. There’s no need to even discuss a clause. If I was scared I wouldn’t come back. I’m coming with a lot of enthusiasm and a very positive mentality. I am convinced that this is a spectacular group that is going to make this happen.”
In closing the new signing was asked about the state of the team and shared his confidence. Gómez believes that the squad is strong and that Athletic will compete at a high level to earn as many points as possible, starting with Sunday’s La Liga match against Sevilla at the San Mamés.
“I’ve seen the team during the season. I’ve still been following Athletic these two and a half years and I think the team will have a good month and results will come. I’ve seen an organized team on the field and that will help get better results. The team is fully prepared to take the three points on Sunday. The difference of points is what it is but we trust in being able to win the match.”
President Aitor Elizegi was also part of the press conference and highlighted that it will be a day to remember for the club. “We started the year with people from home who know how difficult it is to get from a neighborhood or town in Bizkaia to the San Mamés”, he said. “Ibai was able to leave the house, which is not easy, and always had his sights on coming back. For me it is an unforgettable day. It will be written forever this brilliant journey of leaving and returning.”
Elizegi also made it clear that he is not getting involved in the transfer moves, choosing instead to leave it all in the control of Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta. “It’s not my job”, he said clearly. “It’s the work of Alkorta and Ayarza. They’re watching the day to day and talking with Gaza [Garitano] to know the needs and achieve goals. We are always look at the club’s needs and that’s what we will continue to do. I told them to sign Ibai, but they decided it was the right choice and the right time to bring him in. The most important thing is what Gaizka says.”
We have incorporated a good player”, Alkorta would then follow. “He will contribute a lot, in the football and in other things. He is happy and we think he will help the team a lot.” Gómez then joined his teammates in training at an open session in Lezama where fans were able to come out and watch the team prepare for Sunday’s clash with Sevilla. Ibai Gómez is expected to be included in the squad for the match.