Markel Susaeta Explains His Decision To Leave Athletic Club
Markel Susaeta’s departure from Athletic at the end of last year was far from ideal. As living legend with 507 appearances for the club, being forced to wait until the end of the season to find out if he would continue at San Mamés was seen as disrespectful and a poor way to treat a player who had given everything for the Zurigorri. Susaeta has always been a humble and quiet person, but has since opened up about his decision to leave his boyhood club.
“There were a lot of situations that caused me to lose hope and those who follow Athletic know little of what I mean,” Susaeta said in an interview with IN-komunikazioa. “At the beginning of May the club had not told me what they wanted to do with me. It’s true that Gaizka had told me a few weeks before that he wanted me to renew, but the only thing that the club had told me was what I had heard in the press, that some player was going to renew when he wanted and that others had to wait.”
After waiting for his future to be decided, Susaeta admitted that he couldn’t take it anymore. “I said ok, that I would wait, but on 2 May I became tired of the situation and told the Board that I needed to sit down and talk,” he continued. “They told me that I was an important player and that I could come to Ibaigane that afternoon.”
The original report at the time claimed that Susaeta was the one who made the decision to not extend his contract and that he didn’t even want to see the renewal offer. The 32-year-old confirmed that was true.
“Before they started talking I told them not to tell me anything. I didn’t want to hear the offer. They tried to convince me over the next few days but my decision was already made. There was no specific date when I made the decision.”
Susaeta expected that he would be given the opportunity to announce the decision and say goodbye to the club and fans, but that’s not what happened. The Board informed him that they would be making an announcement and that confirmed to him that he had made the right decision.
“On 6 May they told me that they were going to release a statement saying that I’m not going to continue, that although it seems good or bad they will accept it. I thought they would leave it to me to give the news. I thought ‘this is one more thing’, something that reaffirms the decision I had made.”
While the events leading up to his departure were not good, Susaeta did share that he loved the farewell he received at San Mamés alongside Ander Iturraspe and Mikel Rico. When the time came to leave, the Athletic legend already knew that he wanted to leave Europe in order to avoid having to ever play against Athletic.
“I didn’t expect a farewell like that, it was an incredible day. The only thing I knew for certain was that I didn’t want to continue playing in La Liga or against the team of my life. Despite all the offers I had from Primera teams, the answer was no because I didn’t want to stay here. We looked for a place where it could be good for our family. Japan was the destination that caught our attention from the beginning.”
It’s now been over six months since Athletic announced that Susaeta would be leaving the club, but there are still rumors about the situation that frustrate the former captain. “I’ve learned that some are still talking badly about me, that some journalist are still lying,” he said. “Of all the lies and everything that’s been said, what’s bothered me the most is hearing that I left Athletic for economic reasons.”
In the end, leaving Athletic was Susaeta’s decision. However, the Board is also responsible for the way the situation was handled which inevitably caused a mythical player like Markel Susaeta to choose to leave.