Unai Simón “On Friday San Mamés Will Roar Like Never Before”
Unai Simón has began the season as Athletic’s starting goalkeeper and knows that he will face another massive test on Friday night. The Lions will welcome Real Sociedad to San Mamés for the first Basque Derby of the year in what will be one of the biggest games of the season. Speaking with Fuera de Juego on Wednesday night, Simón explained that the fans will make all the difference at the Cathedral.
“No Athleticzale likes to lose a Derby. Last year it was very hard to lose both of them. We are fortunate the have the fans that we have. Last year, when he had bad times, they helped take us out of that bad situation. On Friday San Mamés will roar like never before. Last year it took us a bit to adapt to what Garitano wanted. We were making progress as the season went on. We’ve found ourselves very comfortable with the system this preseason. There were things that we had to improve and that’s what we are doing. We are doing well.”
The goalkeeper knows that Real Sociedad is a strong team and that Friday’s match will be far from simple. However, he trusts in his teammates at Athletic and their ability to take all three points at home.
“La Real is a great team. They have made very good signings and are very offensive. Oyarzabal creates a lot of danger, Zubeldia is a rock in the center of the field, and Merino plays very well but we also have great players in those positions. I have a very good relationship with many Real players but this week there are no friends. You have to focus on winning all three points and go for it all. I really want to be able to save a penalty from Oyarzabal. Last year I faced two penalties and I hope that we won’t commit any on Friday, but if we do I want to save.”
Last season Simón never expected to make his debut but things are different this year. The 22-year-old revealed that he’s been thinking of starting all summer and is proud to defend the Athletic goal.
“This season is different. I’ve spent every day since we finished the European U21 tournament thinking about being able to defend the Athletic goal. I’ve been the starters for two games and it’s a source of pride for me to be able to defend the goal at San Mamés and the Athletic shield. I knew I was going to start the Barcelona game when Gaizka organized the eleven. That’s when he told us who were going to be starters.”
Being given the starting role and then losing it once Iago Herrerín returned from injury wasn’t easy to swallow. Simón admitted that he understood the situation and that he and Herrerín try to make each other better each day in training at Lezama.
“The season is very long. Last year I had expectations of being a starter and in the end I wasn’t. It was difficult to lose the starting role. I understood that I was young and that I was in the lineup because Iago was injury. He deserved the opportunity to play. He and I try to help each other every day. We will try to have some rotation because the season is very long and there is also the Cup. We will see how it’s handled.” For now Unai Simón will continue as the starting goalkeeper and will need to be at his best to help Athletic take all three points on Friday night.