Julen Guerrero “The Love Of The Fans Is My Greatest Title”
For many Athletic fans, Julen Guerrero is the greatest player to wear the Zurigorri shirt in the last thirty years. The midfielder joined Lezama in 1982, in the midst of a golden era that won titles, but Guerrero never lifted silverware himself. Despite the lack of trophies, the icon never once considered leaving his boyhood club.
“The love of the fans is my greatest title ever and that will always be so,” Guerrero told Bilbosport on Telebilbao. “For those of us born with the Athletic shirt on there is no need for explanation. I could have increased my wages or played for important titles at other clubs, but my joy was to always play for Athletic.”
Guerrero may have never won a trophy with Athletic, but he could get to watch his beloved club lift the Copa del Rey title in the near future. The Lions will meet Real Sociedad in what will be a historic final.
“It’s a long-awaited and beautiful final, a Basque football party. I am really looking forward to that day and hope that it can be played normally. Athletic and La Real deserve to have the fans there. Their fans and the coaching staff deserve it. Everyone deserves to enjoy it.”
For the moment, Guerrero is quarantined at home with his wife, daughter, and son Julen Jon who is currently a youth player at Real Madrid’s academy. When asked if his son would ever play for Athletic the legend didn’t want to look too far ahead.
“He was born in Bilbao and with the Athletic shirt on. Right now he has to enjoy football and keep improving, but above all also complete his studies. The important thing is that he is formed and matures.”
In the midst of the ongoing pandemic Guerrero admits that it almost doesn’t feel real. Life has come to a sudden stop and the future is full of uncertainty. The former captain urged everyone to follow the instructions in place to help protect themselves and others.
“Sometimes it seems like a dream, like we are involved in a movie. If they had told us two or three months ago that it would be like this we would have seen it as unthinkable. It’s a nightmare that has lasted too long and leaves everyone with the uncertainty of not knowing when or how it will end. No one knows what will happen next week or when we will reach normality. We should all be careful and take the recommendations very seriously. We have no choice but to stay home and have patience.”
If football does return this season teams will need time to train and get back into shape. Guerrero warns that not doing so could lead to injuries and that players can only do so much while stuck at home.
“It’s evident that the break will take a toll and mores if the days continue to pass. You have to realize that in the summer they only stop for 10 to 12 days before starting individual work and then have five or six weeks of preseason as a group. It’s not the same to work at home. I don’t know what level of a preseason will be needed, but it will be an important time because it’s necessary to pick up a good rhythm to avoid injuries with such a tight schedule.”
Julen Guerrero is currently Spain’s U15 coach while also assistant the U16 and U21 teams on occasion. Since retiring from football in 2006 the Athletic legend has become very passionate about youth football and has always left the door open for a possible return to his boyhood club at some point in the future.