Iñigo Vicente “I See Myself In The First Team Next Season”
Iñigo Vicente has long been considered a star in the making for Athletic. After breaking scoring records at Lezama the versatile attacker showed incredible growth with Basconia and Bilbao Athletic before being promoted over the summer. In the end, the decision was made for Vicente to join Mirandés on loan for in order to play regular minutes and the 22-year-old’s development in the Segunda has been exceptional.
“I see myself in the first team next season,” Vicente told Pako Ruiz during an interview with DEIA. “This loan has helped me mature and see football from a different perspective. Mirandés has given me a lot and helped me grow. When I return to Lezama I’m going to fight to earn a place. Gaizka knows me perfectly and knows what I can give, but I want to show how I’ve grown as a footballer.”
Before the stoppage Vicente had featured in 27 games for Andoni Iraola’s side and showed constant improvement. Adapting to life in the Segunda is always a challenge and the Lezama product has welcomed the opportunity.
“Football is played much faster in the Segunda. There are many differences compared with the Segunda B and picking up the pace is what was the hardest for me at first. It’s my first experience away from home and I’m playing in a very tough league. I have five goals and four assists and I don’t think those are bad numbers. There are eleven games left and I think I will close the season well. We are going to fight until the end and I think we can fight for promotion.”
In addition to playing in a much stronger division Vicente has also gained the valuable experience of being away from home. Leaving Athletic has allowed the starlet to grow as an individual as well as a player.
“I’m more mature, both personally and in football. I have grown a lot and I better understand the concepts in game situations. The Segunda is a demanding level of football with strong teams and good players. I think it has been very good for me to take this step to grow as a footballer and also see what it’s like outside of Athletic.”
When asked what Iraola demands of him Vicente responded that his task is always to do whatever is needed to help the team. Often criticized for a lack of defensive contributions, the forward is constantly working to improve that area of his game.
“He asks me to do what is best for the team, to work collectively, and if we all work together we will get results for the team and on a personal level. It’s also true that he asks me to contribute defensively, to fight, and to never give up on any ball. Every time we finish training I stay in the gym for quite a while, usually an hour. Thanks to this I am improving physically. I saw it as one of the things that I lacked and I’m trying to get stronger.”
Big things have been expected from Vicente for years. His success at Lezama has led many to believe that he can become a star at San Mamés but he doesn’t feel any pressure other than what he puts on himself.
“The fact that there are high expectations on me is good because it means that I have done things well. I’m going to try to fulfill them, give my best, and see how far I can go. Honestly, I don’t really feel any pressure. I want to be the best in everything. I always want to win everything, score many goals, and give many assists. I keep in touch with the club and we analyze my performances. The one I talk to the most is Tiko who is in charge of following up with players on loan.”
Vicente has been extremely happy with his loan spell, but admitted that he doesn’t agree with the clause that prevents him from playing against Athletic. Had Mirandés qualified for the Copa del Rey final he would have had to sit out the match and doesn’t really think that would have been fair.
“I was already talking about reaching the Cup final with friends and family. I wouldn’t have been able to play against Athletic and I don’t think the clauses are fair. If the loan me it’s so I can play and if I had to face Athletic in the Cup final I would have done it. I would have liked to play it because on one hand it’s a final, but surely there would have been seriously conflicting feelings. If the final doesn’t conflict with my schedule at Mirandés, of course I will be at the final.”
Vicente’s time at Mirandés has been tremendous, but the current Covid-19 pandemic has brought football to a halt. Spain are expected to extend lockdown orders in the country and the 22-year-old shared that he’s happy to be home with his family.
“Each day it becomes more enjoyable. You get used to being at home despite the fact that every day is similar, but while also adapting and seeing if we can get out of this crisis well. I came home to Derio to be with my family because it would have been harder to be alone in Miranda. I have friends and family here and this is where I’m at ease. I knew that I wanted to be in my town.”
Like Athletic, Mirandés have also provided players with training plans and equipment to use at home. Vicente is following the regimen strictly while also trying to keep himself busy with other things.
“They have given us personalized plans which I follow to the letter. I can work in the morning at the same hours that we did in Miranda and in the afternoons I do something more on my own. They have supplied us with materials but I also had some at home. I have to distract myself with other things but I also read the news a lot to stay up to date with the pandemic and sports news.”
Many players have shared their desire for a small preseason to take place before the campaign resumes. When asked if he will need the time to get back into shape, Vicente said that it will be the case for everyone.
“It’s not just me, but it will happen to all of us. Obviously we are not going to return in the same physical condition that we were before, but we have to try to do what we can at home to be in the best possible shape when we return. There will need to be a mini-preseason as well.”
Despite his age, Vicente has a great understanding of football and already knows that he wants to coach once his career is over. “I have a coaching license,” he confirmed. “It’s something that I really like and I’ve trained kid’s teams for a couple of years. I follow football very closely and in the end it’s what I live for. I like to know how to adapt to match situations.”
Vicente has a deep love for football but understands that there are more important things at the moment. “We have to do what they tell us to do which is to stay home and not go out. It’s about solving this crisis as soon as possible and I can’t do much more than just respect what they are telling us.” Iñigo Vicente is determined to earn his place at Athletic next season, but for now he’s content to continuing improving at Mirandés and enjoying his time away on loan.