Iago Herrerín “I’ve Faced A Lot Of Pressure Which Helped Me Get To Where I Am Now”
Iago Herrerín has been one of the most criticized players at Athletic in recent memory. Despite statistics showing that he’s been a very good goalkeeper for the Lions, he’s still faced a lot of doubt from the fans. This season the numbers prove that he’s one of the top three players at his position in La Liga and he’s finally starting to get the praise that he deserves.
On Friday he opened up in an interview with Alberto Santacruz of La Tribuna Del Athletic where he didn’t hold anything back. He began by discussing recent attacks about his weight where the wind at Anoeta made him look large and explained that he’s had enough of the social media drama.
“The week before the game at Anoeta I had a good performance and everyone was quiet, nothing was being said. The next game we lost and everyone starts talking. Then the next game, where I did well against Huesca, it suddenly seems like I’d lost 15 kilos in a week. I’m fed up with it because this is a serious issue for some people. If anyone thinks I’m fat I invite them to come train with me at Lezama.”
Herrerín went on to share some of the criticism he’s experienced as a player, everything from weight to his hairstyle. He also revealed that he regularly works with a personal trailer to keep his body in the best condition possible.
“I’ve been on the field and was told to comb my hair and the person saying it was bald. People have talked about my belly button. There are others who have talked about my weight who then came to Lezama and saw me and said ‘Iago, you looked huge on the field and now you aren’t that big.’ I work in the afternoon four days a week with a personal trainer doing specific exercises. I’m totally fine despite what is said.”
The 30-year-old knows that he has “Haters” and is tired of what he sees on social media. Herrerín wishes that fans in Spain were more respectful towards opponents and players, but says that when your own fans start being critical it can bother you a lot more.
“Sincerely, and with all my respect, more than haters I have silly words. I’m very tired of all the commotion on social networks. It’s very easy to put someone else’s face as yours or hide behind a false profile and start insulting, befitting, or criticizing. In football, in Spain, people are a bit ignorant when it comes to criticizing players from other teams. You go to other countries, like England, and there is a lot more respect for the opponents and the other players. When your own fans do it to you it makes you very angry.”
Although he understands that every fan will have their favorite players, Herrerín doesn’t know why, for so many, supporting one player means you have to criticize another. He tries to put it all out of his mind because focusing on the negative can affect how you enjoy football every day.
“There are people who do not like Herrerín and people who do. Some will like Simón more, others Remiro, or Iraizoz, or Kepa, or me. At first I was angry because I competed well, but in the end if you take it hard you can have a very bad time and not enjoy playing. What I have never understood is the criticism of one person and praise to the other.”
It’s taken Herrerín a long time to get to where he is today. After sitting behind Gorka Iraizoz and Kepa Arrizabalaga, he’s now the starting goalkeeper at Athletic. The struggle has made him appreciate his current role even more and he’s thankful for the pressure he’s faced because it’s made him better.
“I’ve been through very nice moments and hard times in my career. I’ve endured here and no one has given me anything. I am happy to have continuity after so many years. I haven’t always had recognition and continuity gives you more peace of mind not to have to prove yourself every time you’re on the field. I’ve faced a lot of pressure which helped me get to where I am now.”
As a team Athletic have completely turned their season around. The Lions are now just three points off of Europe, but Herrerín doesn’t want to forget where they came from. He’s very happy with the style of football that’s being played under Gaizka Garitano because it’s brought better results.
“We are doing better, but I don’t like to talk about doing great when we were just sinking. The team is better and responding well to pressure, but we need to know where we come from and what it takes to win a game. Some might say this style of football is boring. Today the most important thing is winning and if we win a title next year playing this way we’ll see how many people call it boring then. You have to go game by game.”
Seeing Eduardo Berizzo dismissed back in December was hard for the goalkeeper. He had grown close to the manager and thought the team had a good grasp of the system. Sadly, it just didn’t show on the field. Now with Garitano at the helm, Athletic are playing their best football in two years and the team couldn’t be happier.
“We’ve changed the results. With Berizzo the training was spectacular, but we couldn’t translate it on the field. When Eduardo and his staff left it was the worse day of my career because when you get a long with someone and they leave it hurts. We tried to play very intense and now things are simplified. Gaizka likes to have a very organized team and players ahead who can create chances and score goals. He wants us to defend well and be able to attack at any moment.”
This season has been unlike any other before for Iago Herrerín. He’s conceding just 0.83 goals per game with a clean sheet percentage of 44%, both of which are second only to Jan Oblak. With each passing game he’s gotten even better and is showing that he may very well be one of the best goalkeepers in all of La Liga right now.