Hodei Oleaga “My Wish Is To Return To Athletic And Convince The Coach”
The lockdown in Spain has brought a new perspective on life. Football has stopped along with other forms of entertainment and everyone are quarantined to their homes in hopes of slowing the spread of Covid-19. Although the majority of Athletic players are simply at home with family those on loan are in a different situation, especially Hodei Oleaga who is technically on another continent.
Oleaga joined UD Melilla on loan over the summer, a club based in the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla which is located on the northwest coast of Africa. In addition to being away from loved ones during this difficult time, the young goalkeeper is also living in a small apartment without much room to stay active.
“It does get tougher when you are so far away from home,” Oleaga admitted in an interview with Pako Ruiz of DEIA. “My place is small. It limits you when it comes to complying with the training plan we have been assigned, but there are always things you can do.” Athletic supplied players with training equipment, but Oleaga doesn’t have that luxury at Melilla. “This isn’t Athletic, far from it,” he pointed out.
Unfortunately, Oleaga never had an opportunity to return home before the situation grew worse. “Morocco, where I have once gone to the city of Nador which is 13 kilometers away, had closed its borders. It wasn’t possible to leave the peninsula from Melilla either by air or by sea.”
Aside from everything that has happened with the pandemic, Oleaga was having a very good season with Melilla. The 23-year-old has started ever match except for the opening game of the campaign and is happy with his opportunities.
“I left Athletic because I needed minutes and here they have given them to me. Being away form home helps you mature and I think that I have improved a lot. I have taken those steps that are asked of a young goalkeeper when given more minutes. My wish is to return to Athletic in the summer, do the preseason, and convince the coach. I’m going for everything and to show that I can contribute at Athletic.”
With Iago Herrerín publicly hinting at a summer exit, there could be an open spot in the squad this summer. Oleaga is determined to earn his place but recognizes that it won’t be easy. “The competition is enormous but I want to show that I can be there,” he said confidently. “Iago’s situation has been discussed in the press but I don’t know what he will do. I’m going to fight and prove to the coach that he can count on me.”
Hodei Oleaga has maintained regular communication with Andoni Ayarza during his loan spell, as well as Peio Agirreoa who is responsible for all goalkeepers at the academy and Aitor Iru the first team goalkeeping coach. The Lezama product has certainly taken important steps forward in his development and hopes to have the chance to fight for his place in the squad when he returns to Bilbao.