Ander Iturraspe “I Will Miss You”
For the first time in 11 years, the Athletic will play a season of football without Ander Iturraspe. After 320 matches with the Zurigorri, the 30-year-old has left the club and will continue playing football elsewhere. Iturraspe joined Lezama when he was just nine years old and was able to accomplish his dream of reaching the first team and playing at San Mamés.
Iturraspe gave absolutely everything to Athletic and was given a special farewell tribute along with Mikel Rico and Markel Susaeta after the final home game of the season. On Thursday he took to social media to say goodbye. Never one to be in the spotlight, the midfielder penned a letter thanking his teammates, those he’s worked with, and the club for everything he’s experienced:
— Ander Iturraspe (@Ander8Iturraspe) June 20, 2019
“I don’t know how to start. It’s very strange, but it’s clear that it was the time to leave the club I always wanted to be in. I can only say thank you and that it’s been a pride to wear the shirt I’ve worn for so many years. From Alevín B to the first team, from nine years old to thirty.
Thank you to all of the coaches that I’ve had during each of these seasons and for the values you’ve instilled in me – work, generosity, commitment, loyalty, and the Athletic feeling. I’ve learned something from everyone and I have memories forever. Thank you also to all the coaching staffs and to all the people in the club. The treatment you have given me every day has been a joy. Always with sincere affection. You are many who work behind the scenes and are key in the day to day.
To the medical staff that has always tried to help me as much as possible, for the many hours of work so that the team is perfect. You are a 10, thanks for everything.
We have lived many historic days together. My debut at San Mamés replacing Gurpe, the Cup finals, the Europa League, the farewell to the old San Mamés and the premier of the new one, the Champions League year with 70 points, the Supercopa title, and especially the perseverance in terms of results in the league with which we have enjoyed wearing the shield.
I’ve had an incredible time in the locker room and we’ve also experienced difficult moments. Always overcoming adversities. You will continue to do it. What happens there stays there, take care of that every day. It’s key and makes a difference. There are amazing people in there and you deserve the best as a group. I will miss you guys! I will continue to encourage you from where I am playing.”
Where Iturraspe will go next is up to him. The 30-year-old has been linked with a move to Alavés, PAOK, Leeds, and now clubs in Japan and China according to a report from Javier Beltrán of AS. For now, Iturraspe will be patient in making a decision as his ultimate goal is to stay as close to home as possible. Wherever he ends up, Ander Iturraspe will always be Athletic.