Iñigo Lekue “Getting Back On The Field Was A Victory”
Iñigo Lekue has overcome a fractured ankle and back surgery this season and over the weekend he finally made his season debut. The 25-year-old came on for Ibai Gómez in stoppage time of Athletic’s 2-0 win over Atlético Madrid to thunderous applause. On Wednesday he addressed the media and explained that during the recoveries it was always hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’m doing well. I’m happy to be back after many months out. It’s not easy to be separated from the team for so long. It’s hard to miss almost a whole season. Now more than ever I don’t think about the future but about the day to day and tomorrow I can play a game. I have not played for a long time. The sensation of the other day was similar to that of my debut. After two injuries and going through the operating room, it feels like you will never see the light. Getting back on the field was a victory.”
Lekue had two surgeries in the span of just a few months. First, his fractured ankle was repaired and then he was back on the table to fix a lumbar disc. Through it all, he always felt the support of his teammates and now looks forward to fighting for his place in the team.
“The hardest injury was fracturing my fibula due to the postoperative period of time that I had to recover. The back pain had been dragging for a long time. Everyone encouraged me in the dressing room after the game. The feeling of the team and coexistence is very great. I have felt the support and I am grateful to everyone. The only thing I want is to fight to be here, even if it’s difficult. My intention is to contribute, train as best I can, and be available to the coach to provide quality minutes. The competition is good for the team.”
On Thursday Athletic will host Eibar at Lezama for a friendly match. There is a good chance that Lekue could feature in the match and he’s excited about it. He’s also happy that his friend Ander Capa returned to the club over the summer and he’s ready to battle for the starting right-back position.
“The match tomorrow is very good for me to pick up the rhythm, even if it’s only a friendly match. It’s still a competitive match against a rival in the same league. I really want to face it and prove myself. Ander Capa cane to reinforce this position in the team. I am glad that he’s here because I’ve had a very good relationship with him for a long time. Even so, I will try to do my job well and win the starting job. I’m a versatile player. I can play in several positions. The coach knows me and he will decide if I play in one position or another.”
This is the first time all season that Gaizka Garitano has had the entire squad available. Ander Capa and Aritz Aduriz have both returned to training as well and now the manager has the entire team to choose from for the last 10 games of the campaign. As things stand the Lions are just 3 points off of 7th place and they fully intend to challenge for European qualification.