From Mentor To Teammate: The Special Relationship Between Dani Vivian And Ibai Gómez
It’s often been said that Athletic is a family and that couldn’t be more true. Siblings, sons, and relatives of all kinds have worn the Zurigorri colors throughout the years. The family aspect of the club is one of the many things that makes Athletic so unique. Everyone has a connection and this season is no different as several players have a special story.
Manager Gaizka Garitano took over the team back in December and led Athletic out of the relegation zone and into the battle for Europe. His father did the same thing several years ago, albeit as the team’s assistant coach. Iñigo Córdoba and Gorka Guruzeta are both looking to take on more prominent roles in the first team while their brothers are competing with Bilbao Athletic and Juvenil A respectively.
Gaizka Larrazabal is spending his first summer with the first team and is following in the footsteps of his father, Aitor Larrazabal, who is considered by many to be the best left-back to ever play for the club. The majority of the coaching staff are former Athletic players and roughly 80% of the squad spent time at Lezama. However, there is one relationship that is entirely unique.
After an impressive season with Bilbao Athletic last year, Dani Vivian was given a new contract and is spending the summer training with the first team. Four years ago he couldn’t have dreamed he would be in this position. At the time he was playing at the Juvenil level for Santutxu where he was coached by none other than Ibai Gómez.
Gómez spent four years training at the Santutxu academy, and one with the first team, before leaving for Sestao River and eventually Bilbao Athletic. The winger has always been passionate about coaching and spent a few seasons working with Santutxu during his free time. Four years ago he was coaching Dani Vivian, who was signed by Basconia at the end of the season, and the two have remained close ever since.
Over the last few years, Gómez has been a mentor to Vivian. The pair have seen their relationship deepen and last season they even trained together when Vivian was called up for a few sessions with the first team. He would spend several days defending his mentor. This summer, they are finally teammates. Dani Vivian has learned what it means to be a professional footballer by watching Ibai Gómez and this season they could take the field together to defend the Athletic crest.