Ander Capa “Athletic Always Aspires To Compete In Europe”
For Ander Capa, playing for Athletic has been a dream since childhood. Raised by hard-working parents who preaching the love of Athletic at an early age, Capa regularly attended games and even trained at Lezama from 2002-2005 before leaving for Danok Bat. His path to San Mamés would be unconventional but, as he shared in an interview shared in the club’s magazine, the hope was always present.
“If I was filled with joy to watch the team as a fan, you can imagine the satisfaction of actually being an Athletic player,” Capa says about what it means to represent the club. “My parents have taught me these colors since I was little.” Even while playing for Eibar, Capa was an Athletic Socio and went to watch games as often as he could.
When Capa was enrolled at Lezama he played right-back but moved to right-wing at Eibar. At the time he never wanted to go back to being a defender, though he now admits that it was the right move. “Mendilibar put me back there and now if you ask me where I prefer to play, I would clearly say on the side of the defense.”
José Luis Mendilibar played a big role in Capa’s career and recently shared his thoughts on the 27-year-old saying, “When he’s plugged in he’s the best and when he isn’t he struggles.” Capa tend to agree with the assessment.
“I have that phrase remembered. I think he’s right with the first sentence and the second. When I’m plugged in and I don’t think about thing, I’m an exceptional player. I’ve also heard that if you think too much it can make things worse.”
Signing with Athletic was a dream come true for Capa who had already been linked with the Lions in previous years but saw nothing come of it. “In the past I had already appeared in some news of Athletic being interested in me but I didn’t give it any value,” he admitted. “My only wish was that they really knocked on the door and if Athletic called I didn’t care if another club was interested in me.”
While the Portugalete native was excited to finally play for the club he loves, his first season in Bilbao was challenging. Eduardo Berizzo rarely gave him minutes, but all of that changed when Gaizka Garitano took over as manager last December.
“At first, my situation wasn’t so easy with Berizzo. I had an opportunity and then another, but I didn’t have that continuity that I needed to demonstrate my level of play. So, it was very good for me when Garitano came up. I had worked with him for four years and he knew me perfectly so to speak. As a coach he has always given me confidence.”
Garitano had already coached Capa at Eibar before taking over at Athletic and the two have a strong relationship. When questioned about what the manager asks of him, Capa explained that he’s told to defend first but is also given freedom to attack when appropriate.
“He reminds me that my main goal is to defend. With that clear premise, he tells me that when the ball circulates to my side I should advance as much as I can to cross balls into the box. The essence of Athletic’s game for a long time has been crossing to the strikers who finish it off. This year I started well with assisting Aduriz’s goal against Barcelona. I have four assists now and I hope there will be many more.”
Capa has a very good understanding of what he brings to the team, as well as the areas where he needs to be better. “One of my strengths is speed and being able to advance down the wing,” he shared. “I can recover easily over long distances. Defensively, I need to improve in situations where opponents overlap me because I have a hard time taking those first steps. ”
Looking back, Capa spoke about the two players that he looked up to the most. Julen Guerrero was a hero and also from Portugalete while Etxeberria was the greatest reference of all. Capa hopes to be remembered in the same way one day.
“When I was little everyone talked to me about Julen Guerrero, they referred to him as La Perla de Portugalete. I used to think that hopefully one day will come when they can say the same about me. Representing Portugalete at Athletic is an honor. Etxebe is my idol because he was very smart and knew how to play his cards. I met him one day in Bilbao and it was amazing. He has always been a reference at Athletic.”
In closing, Capa shared that his goal is to win a title with Athletic and remove the barge. Doing so would be incredible for the club, fans, and players. As far as the current season is concerned, the Lions aim to qualify for Europe after missing out the last two years.
“Taking out the barge would be, in big words, the ultimate goal. Hopefully we can take it out and ride it one day. In regards to this season, Athletic always aspires to compete in Europe. A goal for the end of the season would be to take one of those European positions and if it can be the Champions League that would be even better.”
Since joining Athletic, Ander Capa has become one of the best right-backs in all of La Liga. The 27-year-old will have to be at his best once again next week as the Zurigorri travel to Sevilla where another three points will be on the line.