Kenan Kodro “I’m In One Of The Most Difficult Moments Of My Career”
Kenan Kodro’s move to Athletic just over a year ago came as a real surprise. No one expected the Lions to sign the former Osasuna striker but once the deal was announced there was hope that Kodro would be a solution to the team’s lack of scoring. The 26-year-old had a fast start to life in Bilbao but has since found himself in a challenging situation with very limited chances.
“No one waits for you at this level,” Kodro told Robert Basic in an interview with El Correo. “You have to give immediate results and perform from the very beginning. That’s the reality. When a player has continuity and feels that they are appreciated, that they are loved and respected, you have more confidence and are even better. I feel that I have the quality. If I could change things I would ask for more minutes, more prominence, and three or four more goals.”
The striker went on to admit that he struggled at first to find his place at Athletic but is confident that he’s fully adapted to life at San Mamés. Although he hasn’t played much this season, his goal is still to become a key contributor in the squad.
“I knew that I was coming to a club with the highest demand and with a unique philosophy. Maybe it was difficult for me to adapt at the beginning because I’m a different type of player. Over time I have adapted perfectly and of course I want to play more. My dream is to score goals for Athletic and be an important player. I’m going to work hard on the things that depend on me, but there are things beyond my reach. I want to help the team, improve, and meet objectives. If I do that then I can say that I have fulfilled my goals.”
Regardless, Kodro admits he’s never quite been in this kind of situation. The striker is determined to establish himself at Athletic and wear the Zurigorri shirt for years to come. To do that, he must take important steps forward.
“It’s hard not playing. I’m in one of the most difficult moments of my career. I’m 26 years old and I hope that I’m still playing for 10 or 12 more years, but I have to be honest and confess that this isn’t easy. The reality is that the coach isn’t counting on me much but my goal is to work to play here. I want to continue being an Athletic player for the next ten years. I will fight for it. I want to convince my teammates, the coach, the fans, and myself that I can be here and be an important part. I will give one thousand percent in everything. The coach is the one who decides and I respect him, but I need more prominence.”
It’s never easy being the son of a great player. Meho Kodro is regarded as a legend at Real Sociedad, but Kenan has always been determined to write his own story.
“My father doesn’t put pressure on me. He wants me to learn from these situations. We do work together on technical and tactical aspects, on the moments of a striker. You never know when your chance may come and when it does you have to take advantage of it.”
Even though Kodro wasn’t seeing much of the field before the season was suspended, the lack of football has been an odd adjustment. Each player has a personal training plan to follow at home but no one is sure when football will resume.
“It feels weird. We’ve gone a long time without training together as a group. This reminds me of the summer when we’re given a month off and disconnect except now we are at home and can’t go out. The situation is what it is, not only for me and Athletic, but for the whole world of football. We are all equal in the face of this pandemic. We have to adapt and train at home. We have individualized training plans and I follow it to the letter.”
The players may not be training together every day but everyone is in regular communication. The future is unclear but the squad is eager to get back on the field as soon as possible.
“We all stay in touch and everyone talks to those with whom they have close relationships. Of course we have a group in WhatsApp where we all talk. We’re eager to resume training because there are 11 games and a Cup final that await us. We want to return prepared for battle and in the best possible condition. We can still do many things when the season resumes and we can’t wait to see each other again and work together.”
The football stoppage has brought concerns over the Copa del Rey final. At this point there is no clear idea as to when the match will take place, although no one wants to play behind closed doors.
“Everyone wants to play the Cup final with the fans. Personally, I think we have to fight for the title in front of our fans. They are our 12th player. The fans are very important to us, but I don’t know if it will happen that way.”
No one has been a supporter of playing the final behind closed doors. That may very well end up being the case, but the clubs and Spanish Football Federation are in agreement that they will do everything possible to have fans in attendance.
“We need our fans. If you call each and every player in the squad and ask them they will say the same thing. For me, you can’t play the final without the fans. Now, I will repeat that we will obey the orders of the club and the Federation because we have to do what they tell us.”
Winning the Copa del Rey is the dream of every Athletic fan right now. Along with the chance to lift the first Cup title since 1984, it would be the perfect way to say goodbye to Aritz Aduriz who will be retiring at the end of the season.
“Aduriz is a team player and he means a lot to us. He’s a legend. He’s facing his last season and it would be good for him to finish in the best way possible. We want to send him off with the Cup title. It would be the best way to finish. Aduriz helps us all and is very important to this club.”
Without television revenue or tickets sales clubs across Europe will be facing a significant financial impact. To this point Athletic have no plans of reducing wages, but the players would be willing to do so if necessary.
“I know that there have been meetings between the league and the Federation. If a wage decrease is decided among all then it must be respected. I don’t know what will happen, health is what matters. If we can help with a pat cut then it would be welcome. If the club asks for us to reduce our wages it would be for the good of the club and the fans. If it’s needed we are ready. We all have to row in the same direction. If it’s good for the club, employees, and fans, then we are all together.”
It’s no surprise that players are anxious to get back on the field, but right now the health of the public is the only priority. “We have to follow the advice and instructions from the health experts,” Kodro said seriously. “If we do, we will get out of this situation. Respecting what the health authorities tell us is the key.”
Not having football, or any sports for that matter, and being forced to stay home has given many a fresh perspective on life. Kodro says that everyone should use this time to reflect on what really matter and value health and family more than ever before.
“We have to appreciate the little things, like these moments with family. This is a notice to everyone. Now we see that the most important thing is health. This pandemic is a warning that health has to be above all else. I’m glad that I see that my parents and older people in my family are well and healthy. Everything else comes later.”
With Aduriz retiring at the end of the season Kodro will have a much better chance of carving out an important role in the squad. Starlets like Asier Villalibre and Gorka Guruzeta will also be looking to earn their place and the competition will be fierce. As always, Kenan Kodro is eager to prove himself and that he belongs at Athletic Club.