Dani García “If We Qualify For Europe By Winning The Cup Final It Would Be Incredible”
Dani García had a slow start in his first season with Athletic but has since found his footing in year two. Having played more minutes in the league than anyone else, the 29-year-old is a key part of Gaizka Garitano’s system and a big reason for the team’s success. García has admitted to dealing with anxiety at times, but speaking with Onda Vasca he explained that he wants to continue playing for the foreseeable future.
“Hopefully I can be at Athletic for as many years as Aduriz, but I don’t know what will become of me. I love football but it drains you, although later you wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s like a roller coaster and you have to endure it all the years while you are playing. There has to be a balance.”
Although García was captain at Eibar and is now an important player for Athletic, he’s never considered himself a star. “I’m a person who likes to train a lot to earn my position,” he said. “More or less the key to my success has been improving year after year. I have never felt indisputable at Eibar or here. I’m a fighter and always will be.”
Apart from following his daily exercise regimen García has spent a lot of time watching recent games. As always, the midfielder is never fully satisfied with his performances from any match.
“I’ve been watching games from these last two seasons to see how I’ve changed and how I can improve. I don’t like watching myself but I don’t have anything better to do. I watch my games and even though I have a memory of playing well when I see them again I think I could have done much better. I never give myself a good grade.”
There’s no clear idea as to when the season will resume, or if it even will, but the biggest concern is when the Copa del Rey final will be played. Athletic are set to face off with Basque rivals Real Sociedad, though García is more concerned with winning the title than who will be the opponent.
“It’s a historic final because it will be a Derby, but for me it practically doesn’t matter if it’s against La Real or against any other team. What I wanted was to reach a final with Athletic. If we qualify for Europe by winning the final it would be incredible. The fact that La Real will be there and there will be a great atmosphere makes it special, but not any more exciting.”
Much has changed at Athletic over the past two years. Gaizka Garitano has brought stability to the team after taking over for Eduardo Berizzo in December of 2018, but the players have always voiced their opinions that the poor performances were their fault and not the manager.
“Berizzo is a great coach and he left a great impact on the locker room. His idea of playing football just didn’t work well with the team. It was also our fault that the results weren’t good. Gaizka has brought more defensive organization and that has given us better results. I don’t think it was right to blame the coach for the situation. It was a shame because everyone was very excited and delighted with him.”
Dani García has never played in Europe, or even a Cup final, but that could finally change. The 29-year-old will be expected to start the match against Real Sociedad where a win would not only give the Lions the first Copa del Rey trophy since 1984, it would also qualify Athletic for a place in next year’s Europa League. For Dani García, the dream is well within reach.