Iñaki Williams “This Is The Last Sprint To Be In Europe”
This weekend will be special for Athletic. Not only will the Lions be playing for European qualification in the last home game of the season, they will also be saying goodbye to Markel Susaeta, Ander Iturraspe, and Mikel Rico. Following Friday’s training session, Iñaki Williams spoke to the media and recounted just how big a role Susaeta played in his development when he made it to the first team.
“For me, Susaeta is a reference. He has always been a great teammate and friend. From the day I arrived at the first team he has tried to help me. When I came up the coach put me in his position and I have always tried to get his advice. He’s the greatest. I would have liked to share many more years with him as captain because he is my friend. He has the unconditional support from everyone and we are sorry that he’s leaving.”
Williams has also had a great relationship with Iturraspe and Rico. He believes both are great players and will be sad to see them go. The striker revealed that Rico has been like a father to him and one of his closest friends who helped him adjust to life in La Liga.
“Iturraspe is a crack. He’s shown a very high level and was a substitute for Busquets in the National Team at one point. He hasn’t had the luck of continuity, but he’s responded to everything with class. Rico is another great friend. He’s always supporting me and helping me in everything. I’m sorry he’s leaving too. He’s been like a father to me. All three deserve a great tribute to close their time at Athletic. Our last game at San Mamés is this weekend and it will be special.”
Turning the attention to Sunday’s match, Williams made it clear that Athletic have to be in the right frame of mind to take all three points against Celta Vigo. With only two games left, there’s no room for error.
“Physically we are fine. The season has been very long and we’ve had a lot of pressure for several months. We have made it to a good place and we have to out in every match with the best mentality. You have to have it for the full 90 minutes because if you don’t, that’s what made us fall so far in the table. This is the last sprint to be in Europe.”
Williams and all of his teammates know just how hard it was to climb out of the relegation zone and into the battle for Europe. The Lions have been unbeatable at San Mamés and hope to keep that going on Sunday.
“There isn’t much left and we know how much it has cost to get here. It depends on us. We have to go for three points. We have gone all of 2019 without losing at home. We are strong and have to continue proving that. To be in Europe we have to win on Sunday. Celta will be a strong opponent and we know what it costs to get out from the bottom.”
When Gaizka Garitano took over as manager back in December the only goal was to get out of the relegation zone. That was achieved several weeks ago, but Williams made it clear that Europe is the new goal. Not qualifying would be a failure.
“It would be a disappointment to not qualify for Europe because we depend on ourselves. We are aware of where we’ve come from and how much it has taken to get here. The season didn’t start well but we were able to turn it around. We have fought to be in Europe.”
Sunday’s match could decide the race for Europe. If Athletic manage a victory they could officially secure a top 7 finish as long as Real Sociedad, Alavés, and Espanyol all drop points. However, if the Lions fail to win they will be forced to travel to Sevilla next weekend with everything still to play for. It’s going to be a photo finish but the Lions know they control their own destiny.