Javier Clemente “I Hope We Beat Atlético Madrid On Saturday”
Javier Clemente turned 69 years old on Tuesday and to celebrate he spent some time talking with Athletic TV. The legendary Athletic coach also managed Atlético Madrid at one point and says that the two teams have a lot of history between them. Atlético will visit San Mamés on Saturday where Clemente says they have always caused problems for the Lions.
“We are two clubs that have a well-understood history. Atlético de Madrid has always been one of the toughest rivals in San Mamés. These are always strong matches and even in most cases. The game I remember the most was the 4-4 at the Manzanares which was played during the week. Larrauri had a health issue and it was a spectacular match. Scoring four goals away from home isn’t easy.”
The start to the season wasn’t good for Athletic, but Clemente agrees that the team has turned things around under Gaizka Garitano. Still, getting a good result against Atlético won’t easy. With Los Colchoneros playing in Europe on Tuesday Clemente hopes that Athletic can win Saturday’s fixture.
“Athletic have improved a lot, although it won’t be easy for either of the two teams. Now, unfortunately, both teams are a bit more distanced in terms of potential, but in San Mamés Atlético is always a very tough opponent. They will be playing in the Champions League on Tuesday and I hope we beat them on Saturday.”
Due to his success as a manager, it’s easy to forget that Clemente also spent his entire playing career with Athletic. He made his debut at 18 and would go on to feature in 62 games in 6 season, winning the Cups in 1969 and 1973. When asked about his best moment as a player, Clemente immediately pointed to the Cup final of 1969 and how it impacted his perspective of Athletic’s identity.
“I was 19 years old at the time. That’s the same game that made me more excited because that’s when I understood the dimension of what Athletic is. We took the bus stopping in Buros, in Orduña, and then every town with a truck. There was no barge yet. It was incredible. It’s the nicest game I’ve ever played in, with Anton’s goal, the biggest one surely.”
Clemente’s time with Athletic is over, but he’s taken on a new challenge. Last week he was presented as the new manager for the Basque National Team and hasn’t been able to hide his excitement. “The truth is that I liked the chance to coach Euskadi”, he said. “I was excited about being appointed for this position, but at the same time there are things that make me see that I’m already moving away from this world of football.” Clemente has admitted that this will likely be his last coaching job but he wants to do his absolute best to represent Euskal Herria well.
— Athletic Club (@AthleticClub) March 12, 2019