Iago Herrerín “I Will Try To Take Advantage Of The Opportunity And Enjoy It”
Iago Herrerín has had to readjust back to life as Athletic’s backup goalkeeper after losing his place to Unai Simón over the summer. Despite the lack of minutes the 31-year-old is in good spirits and has played well in his three appearances so far this season. Herrerín kept clean sheets in Athletic’s Copa del Rey wins over Intercity and Sestao River and will start this weekend against Celta Vigo due to Simón recovering from mumps.
“It’s always good to play, especially for a goalkeeper,” Herrerín told reporters during Tuesday’s press conference. “Nobody likes to play because of the illness or injury of a teammate, but I will try to take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy it. Playing gives me life. Everyone wants to play, but you have to be objective because when a teammate is doing well and the team is in a good dynamic it’s difficult.”
Herrerín has spent most of his career as a backup goalkeeper but knows that he’s an important player for Athletic. Accepted the role has been a challenge, though he’s committed to pushing Simón for the starting role.
“The season is long and there are all kinds of options, but the club is clear that they want me here. I was told recently that a role has to be accepted. The important thing isn’t knowing a role, but accepting it. I wasn’t happy at first. Then, after talking, I tried to accept it. It’s not the first time I’ve found myself in this situation. Whoever knows me knows that I can handle it and I won’t let my teammates relax. I know what I have to do and I will enjoy my chances.”
Speaking of Simón, Herrerín recognizes that the 22-year-old has played a big role in the team’s success this year. “Both Unai and the team have been at a tremendous level defensively,” Herrerín said. “Unai is making saves, he’s comfortable and confident, and that gives the team everything. I see him in training and we have a similar character is some things. I’m glad for him and hope he continues at this level.”
This weekend won’t be Herrerín’s first league appearance of the season. The goalkeeper started against Leganés earlier in the year as Gaizka Garitano rotated the lineup for the midweek fixture, though the decision was somewhat strange.
“I don’t understand why I played against Leganés. The team and Unai were fine. It’s true that the coach talks to me and those things remain between him and myself. He saw how I trained and it was a prize to start. Once I played at Butarque I had hoped to accumulate games but that didn’t happen.”
Herrerín knows that minutes in the league will be hard to come by, but he’s excited to help the team challenge for the Copa del Rey Otitle. “From the very first minute we have taken the cup seriously,” he shared. “We haven’t given chances for opponents to put pressure on us. This format doesn’t let you relax and if you want to go far you have to be strong from the first minute. We have played games with those who have had fewer minutes but have trained well. The entire team has been great.”
Before Herrerín spoke to the press Athletic were drawn against Elche for the Round of 32 which will be a much more difficult game than the previous two fixtures. The 31-year-old explained that the team wasn’t concerned about who they would face, although the cup has been full of surprises this year.
“There were no nerves, but we were curious. There was a lottery that could have given us a pretty hard draw. We are happy and excited to play, but first we have a league match against Celta to focus on. It’s a field that we know because we were there earlier. Anything can happen. We have played teams from the Tercera and taken those games very seriously. We will continue to do so which is the important thing.”
Unai Simón could miss more than just this weekend’s match as he continues to recover from mumps which would see Herrerín enjoy extended time in the starting lineup. Regardless of who is in goal, the Athletic defense has been exceptional this season and will need to continue playing at a high level for the Basques to challenge for European qualification.