Ander Capa “Ever Since Childhood You Dream Of Playing For Athletic Club”
Ander Capa had a rather untraditional path to reaching the Athletic first team. After spending three years at Lezama he would return to Danok Bat before proving himself at Eibar. Over the summer he finally returned to Athletic, achieving his childhood dream, and has quickly established himself in the starting lineup. Speaking with Iñaki Ugalde of Mundo Deportivo, Capa explained that he’s always been an Athletic fan.
“I was young when I joined Lezama. I had just come from Danok Bat and was about 11 years old. I was there for three seasons and by circumstances I didn’t continue and returned to Danok. Ever since childhood you dream of playing for Athletic. I’ve been Athletic forever. When I left Lezama it was a disappointment, although Danok was like my second home. While there I was with Iñigo Lekue and Sabin Merino. Lekue was a year younger than me and we started playing together at the Juvenil level. I was with Sabin Merino every year. We started at Lezama together and left at the same time. The two of us returned to Danok and were together until we finished the Juveniles. He left for Basconia and I went to Eibar.”
It was Gaizka Garitano who actually recruited Capa to join Eibar after graduating from Danok Bat. He saw the potential of reaching the first team and was happy to spend every single season playing alongside Dani García.
“Gaizka Garitano was the one who called me to sign for Eibar. Surprisingly, he called me on the phone himself and wanted me to go with him to Eibar B in the Tercera. I had some other offers but I accepted because there was the option to reach the first team, which was in the Segunda B at the time. I was at Eibar for seven years and spent every season with Dani García. Every year we were climbing and they are my family as well.”
Capa would go on to compare Garitano with current Eibar manager José Luis Mendilibar who transitioned the winger into a right-back. At first, Capa didn’t want to play as a defender, though he now admits that he prefers the position because he can cover more of the field.
“They are similar. Gaizka is a good coach, but more serious when it comes to work. Mendi is more friendly and closer. He also doesn’t care if he has to get firm. The style of play is very similar. Mendi changed me. At first I didn’t want to play at right-back, but now I prefer it. I can travel more on the field and I’m more comfortable.”
After finally joining Athletic in the summer, Capa found it difficult to enjoy regular minutes under Eduardo Berizzo. Everything changed when Garitano was promoted to manager and the 27-year-old has the full confidence of the coach.
“Berizzo’s ideas were good, but we didn’t assimilate them well and things didn’t go well. We would concede two or three goals and we hardly created chances. I was new and had to adapt to the coach and new teammates. I came to work as best as I could and win the position. I wasn’t playing my best and the coach didn’t trust me, but that changed when Gaizka came.”
When asked about the pressures of playing for Athletic and Eibar, Capa explained that it’s not the same. He also gave his reasoning for choosing the number 21, saying that he simply liked it more than the other options.
“The pressure isn’t the same at Athletic and Eibar. Of course not. Eibar is a tiny town. There are fewer people and they always support you. The people in Bilbao also support you but when things were going badly the fans on the streets didn’t really blame me. Why did I choose the number 21? Well, there was 2, 12, and 16 available. Dani wanted 16 and Yuri took 12. I also could have 21 or 25 and I liked 21 the most. I didn’t like the number 2. I know that Ander Herrera wore 21 but I don’t really remember others.”
Athletic actually purchased Capa in the summer of 2017, but the decision was made for him to stay with Eibar for the season. The right-back stated that it was handled by the two clubs, but also divulged that Barcelona tried to sign him as well.
“It was kind of weird. I wanted to finish at Eibar in the best way possible and that’s how it was. I signed in July or August with Athletic, but it became public in September. I spent that year with Eibar and didn’t have a bad season. I always gave 100% in each game. Ziganda didn’t have anything to do with me waiting a year. It was a thing between the clubs. It’s also true that Barcelona wanted to sign me when Aleix Vidal was injured. They told me, but Eibar wouldn’t let me leave. ”
In closing, Capa was asked about the contract situation with Markel Susaeta. The captain’s current deal is set to expire in June, but Capa believes that it’s only a matter of time before an agreement is finalized. “In the end, they will reach an agreement with Susaeta”, he said with confidence. “He’s a player who has been here all his life, played over 500 games, and he’s the captain of the team. I think an agreement will be reached and soon he will be renewed.”