Ismael Urzaiz Confident That Iñaki Williams Will Be A Successful Striker At Athletic Club
When it comes to Athletic, not many have as good an understanding of the club than Ismael Urzaiz. The legendary striker played 11 seasons with the Lions, scoring 129 goals 419 appearances, and is still close to Athletic today. During an interview with Alfonso Herrán of AS, Urzaiz touched on Athletic’s start to the season and said that he believes the team has been very good.
“The start to the season has been good. The team is in a good situation to face everything that comes with optimism. We’ve only had a few matches but it’s much better to see the team close to first than, I won’t say last, but eleventh or twelfth. The numbers say that Athletic haven’t been as good away from home, but it’s possible for this team to reverse that.”
Athletic enjoyed an impressive unbeaten streak to start the campaign, but have lost their last two matches. “Professionals always have to remain calm when there is a lot of success or when, as now, certain weaknesses are being blamed for us losing matches”, Urzaiz shared. The former striker was addressing a question about how the team should handle the recent defeats. “Everyone will be reflective and self-critical of ways to improve”, he concluded.
Over the past few years Urzaiz has regularly stated that qualifying for Europe should be the club’s goal every single season and that hasn’t changed. “Athletic is a historic club and Europe should always be the goal”, he said with confidence. “The characteristics of the Athletic players and the style of play right now is more in line with the traditional character of the club.”
Urzaiz has often been asked whether or not Iñaki Williams is capable of succeeding as a striker or if he should be moved back to the wing. The 48-year-old once again defended that Williams has the qualities to lead the attack while also noting that his versatility is a valuable asset.
“Iñaki has shown in some matches that he is capable of doing that necessary work as a nine for Athletic. Everyone knows that he is capable of playing in that position. The good thing is that he can also play on the wing. The team can use that versatility is there is a change in the system.”
When looking at the other options at striker, there isn’t a lot to be said. “It’s too soon to say with Kodro”, Urzaiz answered when asked if the Bosnian has been a failed signing. “You can’t judge a signing if he doesn’t play. Villalibre hasn’t played either, but football can change overnight. It’s difficult to move from the Segunda B to the Primera and have a great impact. It’s very complicated.”
Urzaiz can be regularly seen around Lezama and was also willing to give his take on two very promising young players at the club. “Sancet has already been up with the first team”, he began. “He’s young but already shows signs of enormous potential. I love Nico (Serrano). He is aggressive in the way that he plays and understands football. He always wants to score many goals and he does it with Spain too.”
The future of Athletic is always bright with a plethora of young players coming through Lezama. In the meantime, it will be up to players like Iñaki Williams to help the team find success right now and Ismael Urzaiz believes that the Lions have the quality to compete for Europe this year.