Iñigo Vicente “I’m Convinced That I Will Succeed At Athletic”
Iñigo Vicente wasn’t able to earn a role in the Athletic first team this season but is very happy to be spending the year on loan with Mirandés. The 21-year-old made his Segunda debut over the weekend and played well for manager Andoni Iraola. After the game, Vicente sat down for an interview with Javier Ortiz de Lazcano of El Correo and explained that he wants to be even better, his favorite position, and why he’s wearing the 17 shirt at Mirandés.
“I’m happy to make my debut, although I could have given more individually. It’s always difficult for me to adapt at the beginning of a new division. I didn’t play the first ten games when I first joined Bilbao Athletic. I would give myself a six out of ten. I prefer to play wherever I’m needed, but I feel more comfortable on the left-wing where I have room and can cut inside. When I got here there weren’t many numbers available. I chose 17 because that was Joseba Etxeberria’s, a player that I admire, so I didn’t hesitate. I look up to many Athletic players like Yeste and especially Aduriz.”
The decision to leave on loan wasn’t surprising to Vicente. The starlet shared that he had a conversation with Gaizka Garitano and knew that he wouldn’t have regular minutes if he stayed at Athletic. Leaving for the year was the right decision.
“Gaizka told me that I wasn’t going to have all the minutes I needed and they thought the best option was for me to go on loan. I knew there were a lot of attacking players and that I wouldn’t have consistent minutes. Coming to Mirandés will help me mature and grow as a player. It’s always good to feel important and I didn’t feel as important as I wanted to. The responsibility is totally mine. I can give more than I did and what I did wasn’t enough. This loan is the best thing for me.”
Even though he had hoped to stay at Athletic, Vicente wasn’t disappointed when he was told that he needed to leave on loan. The Lezama product understood the decision and will do his best to succeed at Anduva.
“No, I didn’t really feel disappointed when Gaizka told me. I was a little down, but the next day I trained normally and gave everything until I left which is what I’m doing here. I don’t think I had a bad preseason, but I know there have been times when I was a little shy and haven’t given everything I had to give. Now I will try to do my best here and bring joy to Mirandés.”
Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta recently referred to Vicente as the most talented player at Lezama. Last year, he made the decision to stay at Bilbao Athletic but Vicente explained that doing so again wouldn’t help him grow. Being at Mirandés allows him to continue improving and stay close to home.
“Athletic has many players in attack and we all decided that it was best for me to leave. I can show my talent here and come back as a more mature player. I can be good for my head. Some clubs wanted me last year but I talked with Garitano and decided to stay. Now, another year in the Segunda B wouldn’t have benefitted me. The best thing was to go find minutes. I’m very happy. Mirandés is a family club, I’m 50 minutes from home, and any day I can go to support Athletic at San Mamés.”
Playing against Mirandés for the past two years with Bilbao Athletic greatly influenced Vicente’s decision to join the team this season. The starlet revealed that he had a very good conversation with manager Andoni Iraola and knew that it was the right choice.
“Before coming I talked with Chema and Iraola. I really liked their project and idea of football. Iraola told me that I would feel important Mirandés, that I should come enjoy myself and that this is a good place to work. I came to feel important and help the team as much as possible to make the fans happy. There were other offers but I played at Anduva for two years. I’ve seen the passion from the fans and that also influenced the decision.”
Leaving Athletic wasn’t easy. Vicente has spent his entire life in Bilbao, but did have an offer from Real Madrid when he was younger. In the end, he chose to stay at Athletic and shared that it was definitely the right decision.
“I’ve been at Athletic for a lifetime. I live in Derio with my family, five minutes from Lezama. I’m very homemade. I’m used to having friends right down the street, but I must adapt. It will be good for me to go out to find myself and become a more mature person and player. Yes, there was an offer from Real Madrid. I was very young, 15 years old, and was with Danok Bat. An offer came from Madrid, but Athletic immediately responded. We talked at home and decided that it was best to stay here. It was the right decision.”
Vicente went on to discuss what it was like training with the first team for two straight preseasons. Having grown up watching many of the players it was a special experience and the 21-year-old says that he’s convinced he will be successful at Athletic.
“It’s exciting to spend the preseason with the first team. You get a little nervous because you are with players who you’ve seen at San Mamés or on tv and they are all very good and impressive. But they welcomed us all in a great way. It was a pleasure to be with them. I don’t feel pressure. When I go out on the field I do what I know. I enjoy when fans like when I do things well. I’m convinced that I will succeed at Athletic. I’m very ambitious and competitive. I have to relax a bit more on the field though because sometimes I get upset.”
Throughout his development, Vicente has constantly tried to improve the defensive aspect of his game. He admitted that he still has much to work on but it proud of his growth over the years. Vicente is very hard on himself and believes that makes him a better player.
“Year after year my coaches have demanded defense from me more than anything else. I think I have improved a lot. I know that I have more to improve, but little by little I’m doing it. I like to give assists and see my teammates celebrate a goal. I liked setting up Villalibre, but I also like scoring goals too. If I go two or three matches without scoring I get very angry. After a bad game, my family and my girlfriend suffer a lot. I prefer to be along and go home angry. It usually lasts a couple of days.”
Vicente was recently given the nickname Mago, or Magician, by his teammates but doesn’t know where it came from. The starlet does seem to have magic in his feet at times but says that he simply does what comes into his mind. He’s not afraid to fail and that’s why attempts things that most players never would.
“I don’ know where it came from. When I’m on the field I just do the first thing that comes to mind. There are times when it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t. I wouldn’t call it magic, but I dare to do things that other players won’t. I’m not afraid to fail. Failure can make you better. If I see an open pass I will try it, however difficult it may be. I’m stubborn and I’ll try it again and again. I’ve been told that I put the ceiling too high but I want to improve. I demand a lot form myself, it motivates me.”
This season will be very important for Iñigo Vicente. Despite his age, the attacker has already shown that he has the quality to play for Athletic and is on the cusp of breaking into the team. With a healthy outlook on his loan move and the ferocious desire to succeed, it’s only a matter of time before Vicente is showing his magic at San Mamés.