Markel Susaeta’s Standing Ovation At San Mamés A Sign Of The End Of An Era
All good things must come to an end. Markel Susaeta is learning that lesson firsthand. With just 3 games left on the season the captain has yet to be offered a renewal and all signs point to him leaving Athletic when his contract expires in June. For someone who joined Lezama at the age of nine, saying goodbye to his childhood club won’t be easy and neither was leaving the field on Saturday.
Susaeta was replaced by Iñigo Córdoba after 61 minutes against Alavés and the fans at San Mamés rose to their feet to give the captain a standing ovation. It was the first time in months that Susaeta started a game and it could very well be his last in an Athletic shirt. The 31-year-old was clearly emotional as he walked to the bench and was holding back tears. The ovation certainly felt, and sounded, like a goodbye.
The writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Several other players continue to be chosen ahead of Susaeta and the captain has struggled to perform this season. Everyone watching the game understood the emotion of the moment and that they very well could be seeing the end of an Athletic legend. Some even held up signs calling for Susaeta’s renewal, but it’s highly unlikely that anything will change.
“Susaeta did well and has been at the same level as the rest of the team”, Garitano said after the game. “That’s difficult to do without playing for a while. We will speak about his future at the end of the season.” The manager has refused to discuss the future of Susaeta but his lineup selections paint the picture well.
Poor performances have seen some fans criticize Susaeta this season and Beñat came to his defense after the Alavés match. “I’ve known Susaeta since I was a child and I have a lot of appreciation for him”, said the midfielder. “Only he knows what’s going on, but Markel deserves a little more respect from the outside. Things have been said and he deserves more respect. If he doesn’t say anything about the situation or the club doesn’t say anything, it’s because it’s his decision.”
So far Susaeta hasn’t said anything about his future and the club hasn’t either. If the captain is going to leave San Mamés it’s safe to assume that Athletic will do something to celebrate his career. Until then, Saturday’s standing ovation from the fans was special and something that Susaeta will always remember. He’s spent his entire career at Athletic and will always be remembered as one of the best to ever wear the Zurigorri shirt.