Dani García Opens Up About His Struggle With Anxiety
Dani García’s first season at Athletic didn’t go quite as he had hoped. The midfielder made the switch from Eibar where he had served as captain and was one of the best in La Liga at his position. García struggled for consistency at times but is determined to show his best with Athletic this year and is excited about the way the team is improving during the preseason, which he shared with Athletic TV in Germany.
“Teams have been great reinforced, and there are strong squads”, he said addressing the league as a whole. “Ours is balanced with young players who come with great desire and the older ones who have the experience. If we manage to have that ambition and that focus, we hope the season goes well. Let’s see if we start with arrow up and if we can keep it all year long, even better.”
Athletic will face Barcelona, Getafe, and Real Sociedad to start the season. All three are difficult games that will test the Lions and García explained that it’s important to respect every single opponent and not take anyone for granted.
“We have to respect every opponent, or you will start badly. When the break comes after our first three games I’ll tell you if it’s been good or bad, but the team is improving. We are working hard and I have good hopes for this year. More than personally, I’m focused on the team. I don’t want to play badly, I want to do well, but I care more about helping the team achieve our objectives. Everyone was annoyed at how last season ended and I had big hopes because I’ve never played in Europe.”
Looking back on last season, García admitted that he was wrong when he said that the team would challenge for Europe. This year, he’s only looking one game at a time. Preseason training hasn’t been as demanding as the previous summer either, which the midfielder believes is helping the team better prepare.
“Last year during the preseason I gave a press conference and said clearly that Europe was the goal and I have to eat my words. So, the goal is to get in shape as soon as possible so that we be ready for the first game at San Mamés when we face Barcelona, which we already know will be difficult. Everyone knows the goals that were set last year and, honestly, the preseason was very hard. This year has also been tough, but without so demanding of a workload. I think that being cautious and thinking about going slowly will help us more than setting high goals.”
The Lions are currently in Germany where they will spend the entire week training and close the trip with friendlies against Paderborn and Borussia Monchengladbach. García says that traveling together helps the team grow closer and also highlighted that Gaizka Garitano has grown quite a bit since their time together at Eibar.
“Apart from becoming closer as a group, which we already are, behind here helps us focus. You don’t have to drive every day. It’s all close and we can recover together. It’s a week to work hard, but it’s also good for us all to be together. It’s great to continue working under Gaizka. We had no budget at Eibar, but his style is quite similar. He’s changed some of his methods, but it’s all still similar. He’s evolved a lot as a coach.”
Reflecting on his first year with Athletic, Dani García opened up about his struggle with anxiety. He dealt with the issue at Eibar as well and said that his teammates have always helped him through the episodes. The 29-year-old believes that overcoming will make him a stronger player and acknowledged that he needed to lose weight after last season.
“I’m a person who has suffered from moments of anxiety for a few years, but I have it under control. I ended up quite stressed last season and I’ve tried to forget about it. When I have anxiety problems my teammates help me a lot. These are moments of life that must be overcome. Football isn’t always as beautiful as it seems. You have to get through them because it makes you much stronger. Now I’m going into the new season hungry because I am aware that I had to lose some weight. ”
Starting preseason last summer was extremely challenging for García who was really hard on himself when things didn’t click immediately. This time, he’s better prepared for what to expect and is looking forward to kicking off La Liga stronger than ever before.
“Last summer the first week was difficult and I relied on friends like Susaeta and Balenziaga who told me that the mistakes will all be forgotten. Preseason is hard, but then you start thinking about other things that help, especially recharging the batteries and start the season strong because we don’t want what happened last year to happen again.”
In closing, García confirmed that he has changed numbers from 16 to 14 which he wore at Eibar and was last used at Athletic by Markel Susaeta. “Markel told me he was excited for me to take the number”, he revealed. “When I signed for Athletic I jokingly told him that he had to give me the 14 and we both laughed. We are great friends and I asked him before I changed and he was excited about it.” This season, Dani García hopes that wearing his old number will help to bring back the extraordinary form he showed while captaining Eibar.