Ernesto Valverde “Athletic Is The Best Place That I Have Found”

Ernesto Valverde Rafa Alkorta

Ernesto Valverde shares a laugh with Athletic Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta (Marca)

It’s been a few weeks since Ernesto Valverde was sacked by Barcelona and the former Athletic manager has tried to take a break from football. Txingurri, as he is affectionally known by Athletic supporters, was in Bilbao on Wednesday night ahead of the annual Bilbao International Football Summit which was held the following day. Valverde was the recipient of the Premio Referente award and took time to speak about his departure and relationship with Athletic Club.

“These weeks I haven’t seen much football. I’ve tried to put a distance between myself and football, but when you are at a club going 200 per hour you can’t just go to zero. Yesterday I saw some of the match on television, it’s a Cup final! Athletic has been given the opportunity to reach another final and win a title because in other times there have stronger teams. I also saw the full Cup match between Athletic and Barcelona.”

Valverde admitted that Athletic’s Cup win over Barcelona was very similar the game earlier this season at San Mamés. In both cases Athletic won 1-0 with a late goal in the second half being the difference.

“It’s always difficult to put distance between yourself and the clubs you have been a part of, but the Cup quarterfinal match was very similar to what happened in the first league game at San Mamés. Barcelona had more of the ball but Aduriz scored the winning goal and Williams did it the second time.”

While Valverde managed to win two La Liga titles with Barcelona, he shared that lifting the 2015 Spanish Super Cup with Athletic was the best moment of his coaching career. It was the team’s first title since 1984 and a huge moment in the history of the club.

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona

“Athletic has something strong…so special and comforting.” (AC)

“I’ve gained experience everywhere I’ve been and I can take advantage of that in the future. You have to adapt. If I stop to think and look back, for everything it meant for the fans, winning the Super Cup with Athletic against Barcelona was the most special moment. I’m from Athletic and training the club you are from, especially in that environment, makes winning and losing much stronger.”

Valverde has coached multiple teams throughout his career, though he says nowhere has been as special as Athletic. While there have already been rumors of a potential return to San Mamés, Valverde shared that his time at the club may be over.

“Athletic has something strong and an atmosphere of internal work so special and comforting for the people who are there. It’s the best thing that I’ve done and the best place I’ve found myself in my career. Come back to Athletic? I just turned 56 years old and now there is Garitano, who is 44, as well as Etxeberria and Iraola. I’ve already been at Athletic and the future goes through them. It’s nice to have good memories.”

Looking to the future, Ernesto Valverde stated that he would be open to a move to the Premier League or potential Australia. Txingurri is excited about the next adventure of his career and isn’t closing the door on any possibilities.

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