Oscar De Marcos “I Never Thought That I Could Make A Living As A Footballer”
It’s been over 10 years since Oscar De Marcos joined Athletic. The 30-year-old will soon surpass 400 appearances for the club and has grown into one of the leaders in the team, but he never forgets his roots. In an exclusive interview with Robert Basic of El Correo, De Marcos shared that he learned a lot from the veterans when he first came to Athletic and hopes to do the same for the next generation of players.
“You learn a lot in football. You have to examine yourself every week and that test makes you live different experiences. I think about how you show yourself to younger players and how you talk to them in good and bad times. I have played with Etxeberria, Gurpegui, and Iraola and they are all a reference for me. I learned from them and adopted good and simple things over time. Now I want to share those things with the younger players. As a child I always had references, but I looked up to my parents more than anyone.”
Carlos Gurpegui was the first player that roomed with De Marcos and Iker Muniain and Javi Martinez soon joined the group. Coming into the team was intimidating at the time and De Marcos wants to help today’s young players with their transition to the first team.
“Gurpegui was the first one who approached me about living together, but we were young then. We got together with Iker (Muniain) and Javi (Martínez). I lived with them for the first months. The first time I walked into the locker room I felt fear and respect. Now, what I would tell every young player is that everyone has their own personality. I don’t know if I’m the right person to give advice. I simple try to make everyone in the locker room feel comfortable.”
Despite having joined Athletic in 2009, it wasn’t until 2011 that De Marcos felt that he had made it as a professional footballer. His versatility made him a key player for Marcelo Bielsa and the 30-year-old admitted that the needed the confidence from the manager to take that next step in his career.
“The year with Bielsa, 2011/2012, woke me up. Until then I never thought that I could make a living as a footballer. I had been lucky to get to Athletic but didn’t see myself able to play 30 straight games like Iraola or Javi Martinez. I was young and assumed the role of being available every three days. I began to realize that Bielsa trusted me and he gave me his blind confidence and made me feel important. I needed that. I know there are players who don’t, but I needed that trust.”
Even though he’s a veteran player now, De Marcos still gets immense joy out of the game of football. It isn’t the same type of happiness because of the responsibility to the fans and demand but he still loves the game.
“Football still makes me very happy, but I wish that I could have kept the same happiness I had when I was young or when I played in the Tercera. It’s different. The players who maintains that happiness are the most envied in this sport. I’m super happy and we are all privileged here, but as the years pass you see that part of your happiness becomes responsibility. Why? Because we play for the happiness of other people, for the fans.”
When asked about his favorite and least favorite parts of being a professional footballer, De Marcos provided some interesting answers. Above all else, he loves the daily work and being with his teammates. However, being famous can be difficult and really affects life outside of football.
“The locker room, the day by day. When I leave football it will be difficult for me to find something that makes me so happy. I have enjoyed it since I arrived at Lezama and will enjoy it until I leave. What I like the least is that sometimes it seems that we are not a part of society. It’s because of how we act ourselves but also because we are prejudged. Sometimes you do something that’s normal for you, but it doesn’t seem that way in society. The other day, Dani (García) left from San Mamés on his bike. In any other professional that would be normal but it turns out it’s not for us. Now Dani says he doesn’t want to do it again because he doesn’t want to appear in the papers.”
De Marcos also took the time to address the fact that professional athletes make much more in wages than other people, such as his best friends. He recognizes that it isn’t fair and always looks to give back to the community.
“It’s difficult to explain. In my group of friends, everyone are workers. They work in the field, in the warehouses, and my brother is a teacher. They know that I am privileged economically and they are happy for me. Logically, it will seem largely unfair. We work less hours and in one year earn more than a worker will in his entire life. It’s unfair. Society is like that and I’m not the one who makes these decisions. I simply benefit from the situation. I try to be grateful and give back what football gives me. Nothing else.”
Turning the attention to this season, De Marcos made it clear that the player have full confidence in their style of football. The system hasn’t changed and the Lions will look to put an end to their two game losing streak this weekend when they host Real Valladolid at San Mamés.
“There are no doubts. We started with a very good dynamic and when there are two defeats you tend to look for more mistakes. This is the same team as before but you didn’t look at the mistakes because things were going well. Now those things are magnified. The best recipe is to win again. Valladolid is coming and we will play at home. It’s a match to get three points and that’s the only thing we are thinking about.”
Fans were quick to praise Athletic’s traditional style of football when things were going well. However, it’s become common to criticize the team for boring football after poor performances. De Marcos says the players are used to it and that it’s just another part of the game.
“When we lose there’s usually questions about our football being boring. Before, when things were good, there was talk of our good dynamics. With two defeats, especially the second one where had had virtually no chances in Vigo, now people say they are bored. We are used to it.”
In a recent interview, Yeray stated that the goal is for Athletic to qualify for Europe. When asked about the comments, De Marcos shared that the team hopes to get back to their best so that Europe can be a reality this season.
“It’s good that there are players, especially with the quality of Yeray, who have these ambitions. Little by little we will see where the table leaves us. The beginning of the league season was very exciting and everyone was talking about Europe. Hopefully we can chain several wins together and talk about it again.”
With Ibai Gómez expected to miss Sunday’s game with a muscle injury, there’s a good chance that De Marcos could start against Real Valladolid. The 30-year-old is currently on 388 appearances for the club and could move one step closer to 400 this weekend. “I haven’t even though about it, I can’t believe it yet”, he said when asked about the upcoming milestone. Oscar De Marcos has spent the last decade humbly servicing Athletic Club and he wouldn’t have it any other way.