Gaizka Larrazabal “I Carry The Burden Of My Last Name”
Slowly but surely, Gaizka Larrazabal is finding his footing in the Athletic first team. The 21-year-old was promoted over the summer and has been called up for every game so far this season, making four appearances in the opening eight matches. In a recent interview with Javier Beltrán of AS, Larrazabal explained that he has the confidence of the manager and is happy that he didn’t have to leave on loan to have minutes.
“Gaizka counts on me, he’s told me that, and he’s already given me some minutes even as a starter. I feel comfortable and confident. I appreciate that I have been called for every game since coming to the first team, although I haven’t played in all of them. Others have left on loan and in that sense I’m privileged. It’s true that I have earned my merits, but leaving your home is hard. I’m very happy to be here and to be able to work at home and go home to my family.”
Larrazabal went on to share that he already knew most of the first team players due to being around them in training. The young winger has already learned so much from his teammates and says that he appreciates the way they try to help him get better.
“I already knew many of the players in the locker room. I met the younger ones at Bilbao Athletic and the others when I went up to train with them. I have a very good relationship it’s everyone and I’m at ease. Some of them I’ve admitted since I was a child. I’ve seen them on television and now being with them is a joy. They help you and give you advice on how to improve which is appreciated.”
Larrazabal took a big step in his second year with Bilbao Athletic which convinced Garitano that he was ready to make the jump to the first team. “From what I have learned at Lezama, you have to be a little selfish on the field”, he answered when asked about the improvement. “You have to help your teammates with passes and assists, but in those final meters I looked more at scoring goals at Bilbao Athletic. That helped me score more goals and that’s what characterizes me today.”
Being able to score goals set Larrazabal apart at Bilbao Athletic and he hopes that he will be able to do the same with the first team. With more minutes, he believes that his debut goal will come very soon.
“There are many players in the first team who can score goals. It’s true that I changed that about myself at Bilbao Athletic by being more selfish and looking for goals. With more space and chances I can score goals in the Primera as well. I wasn’t able to score against Mallorca with the volley I took, but they will come.”
Larrazabal is a pure winger and there aren’t many left in today’s football. While there are many in the squad who can play out wide, Larrazabal knows he will get chances because he offers something different. He also cleared up summer transfer rumors explaining that he only had plans to stay at Athletic despite interest from Alavés.
“I’m a more traditional winger. It’s something that differentiates me from other wingers and that can help the team at certain times. It benefits me. There is a great variety of players on both the left and right and who plays is the Mister’s decision. I have to wait for my minutes. Many things were published, but those are summer topics. I was lucky to renew with Athletic. They trusted me and I didn’t hesitate to stay at home.”
Being the son of a club legend is never easy, but Gaizka handles it well. His father Aitor was arguably the best left-back to ever wear the Zurigorri shirt and that legacy is motivation for Gaizka to reach his highest potential.
“I carry the burden of my last name, but it’s worth considering that you are from a special lineage. I wear ‘Larra’ on my shirt, not to distinguish myself, but because that’s what I’ve always been called. I’m very calm and comparisons can’t be made because I play a different positions. If I was a left-back it would be different, although there will always be some comparisons.”
Gaizka has been asked multiple times if he thinks that he will be able to match his father’s 445 matches for Athletic. That’s not really something that the 21-year-old is thinking about right now, but he does hope to become a great player for the Basque giants.
“My father was an icon of this club and I hope to be as well. Yes, we still have the famous pacifier. It’s stored in a drawer. My father reached 445 games but I’m not thinking about getting there right now. I’m young. I’m on the team and I just want to do what the coach asks of me. I’m not setting long-term goals. I don’t want to just be the son of Aitor.”
Despite his four appearances, Larrazabal has yet to play a game at home. “I’m still waiting for my debut at San Mamés” he said with eagerness. “When you are called up at home you always expect it. It will come, I have to trust myself.” Gaizka Larrazabal could have that opportunity on Sunday when Athletic host Real Valladolid at San Mamés where a win could see the Lions jump a few places in the La Liga table.