Joaquín Caparrós “The Only True Academy Is Lezama”
Football has changed immensely over the decades and today Athletic remain one of the few clubs in opposition to modernism. Instead of focusing heavily on buying and selling players, the Basques continue to develop their own stars and boast one of the greatest academies admired throughout the world.
Joaquín Caparrós came to know Lezama well during time as Athletic manager. Caparrós led the Lions from 2007 until 2011 and gave debuts to players such as Iker Muniain and Markel Susaeta while at the helm. Despite being away from the club for nearly a decade, the legendary coach still sees Lezama as the pinnacle of what an academy should be.
There is more pressure on young players now than ever before. From a very young age many are touted for greatness, but the truth is that most will never reach the first team at their respective clubs. “There are a lot of lies with this,” Caparrós told Aitor Lagunas during an interview on YouTube. “The only true academy is Lezama.”
Unlike at other clubs, Caparrós says that players at Lezama know they can have a future if they work hard. “A boy enters Lezama when he is 12 or 13 years old and knows that if he has an adequate progression he will play for the first team,” he said. “The young players watch the first team because they know they can be there in the medium and long term.”
Athletic’s approach to developing young players is different than any other club in football. From a young age players are taught more than just football and to value the club above all else. The success of evident. Young players at Lezama know that with hard work and dedication their dream of reaching the first team can absolutely become a reality.