Andoni Iraola Praises New Athletic Captain Iker Muniain
It’s been 10 years since Iker Muniain made his Athletic debut as a 16-year-old. For many of those years the winger played alongside club legend Andoni Iraola who has since retired and is now the manager of Mirandés. After seeing Markel Susaeta leave the club this summer, Muniain is the new team captain and Iraola told Fuera de Juego that the 26-year-old is ready for the responsibility.
“It happened the same way it happened to us with Joseba Etxeberria. Players that begin to move up when they are young have very good performances for many years. Iker still has a lot left. Taking on the responsibility of being captain is going to be good for him. I’m sure he’s going to give Athletic a lot of things.”
When Iraola left Athletic he had featured in 510 matches for the Lions, best for 4th all-time in club history, and is widely considered the best right-back to ever wear the Zurigorri colors. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to his boyhood club, but this summer Susaeta and Ander Iturraspe have had to do the same.
“Markel and Itu are players that have been with Athletic for many years and have always performed well. Now it’s time to take another step, which happened to me too and I finished my career in the United States. Everyone has to make their own decisions and follow their own plan. I hope that they do very well individually.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Iraola believes that Athletic have the quality to compete at a high level. “The team has very good prospects, Athletic have a very good team”, he explained. “Defensively there are some very good individuals and that gives you strength and guarantees. Every team must be good defensively to earn points.” Depending on how the Copa del Rey plays out this year, Iraola’s Mirandés could potentially face Athletic at some point during the season.