Iñigo Córdoba “I’m Available For The Coach To Count On Me”
Iñigo Córdoba has fully recovered from a knee injury that forced him to miss the first two games of the season and hopes to play in Friday’s Basque Derby. Throughout the summer it appeared as though Gaizka Garitano had chosen the 22-year-old for the starting lineup and he may now get that chance against Real Sociedad. Speaking with Alfonso Herran of AS, Córdoba explained that he is absolutely ready to play.
“I’m available for the coach to count on me. I had to stop because of a blow to my knee. It was bothering me but now I’m already in perfect condition. You always want to play and an injury is something no one ever likes. I handled it in the best possible way by doing what I could to return quickly.”
This will be Córdoba’s third season with Athletic and he’s looking forward to taking another big step forward in his development. The winger explained that he thinks he’s improved in many areas but still wants to become better around the box and in front of goal.
“I’m looking forward to this year with great enthusiasm. I want to do well and take a step forward within the team. Since Gaizka came last year he has taught me a lot and gave me opportunities and confidence. I’m very appreciative. I have matured. The years pass and you realize things, you learn, and I have improved my habits. I’m more of a professional and more aware of what it is to be in this team.”
Córdoba may have not been able to play in the first two games, but he thinks the team has performed very well. Friday’s Derby will be another huge test and the Lezama product stated that he hopes Athletic will beat Real Sociedad despite having friends at the rival club.
“The team has started well against two strong opponents, the champions and Getafe at home. I’ve seen the team competing at a very good level. La Real is a big rival and that always gives us more incentive. Playing at home with out fans who we know will support us…this is a game that we really want to win. I have friends on the other side like Oyarzabal, Igor (Zubeldia), and Mikel Merino. They are great players but I hope we beat them.”
When asked about players that he admires, Córdoba immediately praised legend Joseba Etxeberria. He hopes that he can have a career similar to the current Bilbao Athletic manger and stated that he has no plans to ever leave Athletic.
“You can learn things from every player. Each time I watch football matches I look at the players who play in or near my position. Etxeberria is a legend and I would give everything to reach his level. Hopefully one day you can talk about me and Joseba. As a child I dreamed of playing for Athletic like everyone from Bizkaia. I’ve always been Athletic and debuting here is something special. I’m very happy here, this is my home.”
Real Sociedad made several top signings this summer but Athletic didn’t. Córdoba explained that the Lions must continue to look to the youth academy to strengthen the first team and shared that there is already a lot of competition in the squad.
“Lezama is where Athletic has to get players from. It’s the key piece of this club, something that makes us different. We have a very competitive squad. That makes everyone have to raise their level to earn a position. I do hope to play alongside Asier (Villalibre) soon.”
In closing, Córdoba was asked about teammate Aritz Aduriz who will be retiring at the end of the campaign. “Being able to learn from him every day is delightful”, the 22-year-old answered. “I hope he enjoys his last season and has fun too.” Both Córdoba and Aduriz could play important roles in Friday’s Basque Derby and Athletic will have to be at their best to take all three points at San Mamés.