Iago Herrerín Reflects On Making 100th Appearance With Athletic Club

Iago Herrerin

Iago Herrerín has made 100 appearances with Athletic (LaLiga)

At 31 years old Iago Herrerín has finally played in 100 games for Athletic. It took him longer than most players due to the fact that he’s dealt with injuries and being a backup, but he’s finally reached the milestone. On Thursday Athletic celebrated the goalkeeper’s accomplishment and Herrerín told Athletic TV that he had been looking forward to the moment all season.

“It’s a number I never thought I’d reach. Once you reach the first team you’d like for it to happen earlier, but once you make it to 100 you are happy, excited, and thinking about continuing to add matches. Between an injury and times where I wasn’t playing regularly, it felt like it would never happen. This year I had it marked in red.”

Looking back over his career, Herrerín best remembers the 2013 Copa del Rey match against Espanyol. The team was able to reach the final which was special to everyone. His favorite save came in the Europa League when Athletic defeated Valencia. Herrerín faced a barrage of shots throughout the second leg and still recalls one spectacular save that he made in the final minutes of the game which saw the Lions advance.

“My favorite memory was playing Espanyol in the knockout round of the Cup. Playing in the Cup final isn’t something that everyone can say they’ve done. It was a spectacular moment for me. It was a complete night, one of the games I remember the most. My favorite save was in the Europa League second leg against Valencia. I had to make a lot of saves and there was a decisive one near the end, a shot from Paco Alcacer. It’s a save I remember well and I even have it in a photograph at home.”

Iago Herrerin

Herrerín explained that players have to make mistakes sometimes to learn important lessons. He knows that he could’ve handled things in a better way when he was younger, but those experiences have made him who he is today.

“Many times you are in a situation and think that everything negative is someone else’s fault, that you are not to blame. You settle and feel that everything is against you, but there are times when you have to know that you haven’t done things well. I am the first to admit that I may not have done some things well when I was younger. I could have handled things in a different way, but I still think that in life you have to make mistakes to learn.”

When Herrerín was 18 years old he got his first taste of professional football, joining Barakaldo on loan. He then made the switch to Atlético Madrid where he was able to learn from several top goalkeepers. In 2012 Herrerín rejected a renewal offer from Atlético after answering the call to return to Athletic and he continued to learn important lessons when he was sent on loan to Numancia in his first season back in Bilbao.

“Playing in the Segunda B with Barakaldo was a spectacular thing. I learned a lot. When I joined Atlético Madrid I was with Asenjo, De Gea, Robles, and Courtois. I learned a lot from them. They were spectacular goalkeepers.  Atlético wanted me to renew and go on loan, but I got the call from Athletic and didn’t even think about it. My first year back I was loaned to Numancia and Pablo Machín, the manager at the time, gave me confidence. He told me to play like I know, to be calm, and that I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone. It was a very good experience. It’s was a quiet city to live in, one that likes football. They treated me well and it’s a club that feels like a family, like what we have here at Athletic.”

Not everyone experiences football in the same way. For Herrerín, leaving Athletic helped him discover himself as a player and person. He began to understand just how good things were at Athletic and it made him fight harder to succeed at his boyhood club.

Iago Herrerin

Herrerín is finally living his dream at Athletic Club (AC)

“Everyone has their own path, but it’s true that leaving Athletic helped me to find myself and learn that not everything was as bad as I thought. Many times we don’t value what we have at Lezama. If it’s not the best, it’s at least the best in Spain. When I joined Leganés they were a newly promoted club and we changed in what was basically a prefabricated shed. We didn’t have hot water and had to clean our own boots. Here you have everything at your disposal, the very best facilities. You don’t need a single thing in the first team with managers, doctors, the coaching staff, whatever.”

Herrerín went on loan again in 2016. He had several offers, but chose to join Leganés where he had the chance to start every week and prove himself in La Liga. The goalkeeper enjoyed his time at Leganés which helped him grow even more as a footballer.

“It’s a strange thing that Ernesto knew how to get along well despite having Gorka, Kepa, and me. In the end, everyone wanted to play in every game. I had thought about leaving on loan before the possibility even presented itself. I explained to Ernesto how I was feeling and he saw it as a feasible move. There were options to go out to a few Primera teams, but I knew that I wanted to go to Leganés. I liked it there because Asier Garitano was very direct with me. Those were eight spectacular months.”

Iago Herrerín is finally living his dream of being the starting goalkeeper for Athletic. It took him a long time to reach this point in his career and he’s determined to enjoy every minute. The 31-year-old has been one of the best keepers in all of La Liga this season, which has helped him further cement his place in the team. After reaching 100 games Herrerín is ready for even more.

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