Joseba Etxeberria Reportedly Accepts Offer To Manage Bilbao Athletic Next Season


Joseba Etxeberria will be the new manager of Bilbao Athletic (EDB)

The writing has been on the wall for Aritz Solabarrieta for some time. After flourishing as the manager of Athletic’s Juvenil A team, Solabarrieta has struggled to lead Bilbao Athletic. The Katxorros have yet to win a game on the road and currently sit in the middle of the league table. While Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta would never say it publically, the decision had been made long ago to make a coaching change this summer.

Two candidates quickly emerged to take control of Bilbao Athletic – Joseba Etxeberria and Aitor Larrazabal. Both are Athletic legends and both have impressed as coaches in recent years.

After retiring from football in 2010 Etxeberria returned to Lezama where he coached the Juvenil A team, assisted Ernesto Valverde, and managed CD Basconia. He was successful in every role but, without a clear path to Bilbao Athletic, he left to coach Amorebieta in 2017. Midway through the season he accepted an offer from Tenerife and led the club to promotion to the second division.

Larrazabal also coached within Lezama from 2011-2015 before taking an offer from Marbella. In 2016 he became the manager of Amorebieta and was eventually succeeded by Etxeberria after he made the move to Barakaldo. Larrazabal is still coaching Barakaldo today and is doing a terrific job as the team is currently in the top 4 of the league table.

Rafa Alkorta has a great relationship with both coaches as they all used to play together at Athletic. However, Etxeberria was the club’s top choice and last week it was reported that he was close to taking the job. Conversations have continued and that now appears to be the case. Alberto Santacruz of Oye Athletic reported on Friday that an agreement has been finalized and Joseba Etxeberria will be the new manager of Bilbao Athletic when the current season ends.

Etxeberria has been very vocal over the past week about his desire to return to Lezama. “Time will tell, I hope so”, he answered when asked by Onda Cero. “Playing at Athletic is always a prize and it was a privilege to defend this shirt for so many years. The way I’ve been valued and the love that the fans have for me is really special.” Athletic’s goal was to hire Etxeberria and now they can turn their attention to other issues. Alkorta is still analyzing what other coaching moves need to take place within Lezama. Aritz Solabarrieta could choose to leave the academy, but Alkorta is expected to offer him a new role at Lezama.

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