Óscar De Marcos “When We Return I Will Fight For A Position As Always”
Football has been on hold for over a month now as Spain and the Basque Country continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic. Players have been quarantined at home, although everyone’s situation is different. Óscar De Marcos and his wife have just welcomed the birth of their son during the stoppage and while it’s nice to be together, the Athletic right-back is ready to be able to safely leave the house.
“I have a great desire to go to Laguardia so that my parents and grandparents can meet my son,” De Marcos told Javier Beltrán in an interview with AS. “I’m waiting for the day that I can go see them.” Certainly, bringing home a baby during this unique time will be unforgettable.
“Well, we are getting along differently, and will always remember this time. Nobody likes to be in this situation, but I’ve had a good time with my family and my healthy son. There’s reason to be happy today. My wife (who works in the medical field) is paying close attention to the situation that her colleagues are going through and logically she suffers a lot because she knows what is happening in the hospitals.”
Apart from the current health crisis, the past year has been difficult for De Marcos. The 31-year-old dealt with an ongoing ankle injury that eventually required surgery and he admits that the situation it’s been frustrating.
“It’s normal that it makes you angry because everyone wants to be healthy or at least in a condition to compete. I’ve been limited almost all season with my ankle and had surgery in December. These situations occur in football and it’s bothered me for a while. I just have to be aware of it and recover as well as possible.”
De Marcos was close to finally returning to training before the football stoppage and had hopes of being ready to play in time for the Copa del Rey final. Instead, he now has more time to make sure the injury is behind him.
“The break has been good for me because it’s given me more time to recover. With this time of injury what you need the most is time, but also all the resources that Lezama has to recover in the most effective way. When we return, if I am in good physical condition, I will fight for a position as always.”
While having an extended amount of time to recover is good, not being able to go to Lezama every day is a challenge. “The trainers know my situation and they send me all the specific exercises for my ankle,” De Marcos explained. “They send me daily tasks so that I can send them the pain scale and keep me very controlled.”
Like others, De Marcos agrees that teams must be given time to get back in shape before the season resumes. Training at home isn’t the same as being on the field and not being able to kick the ball for so long will also have consequences.
“Something will be lost, but not forgotten. It will be necessary to have a preseason like in the summer or else there will be injuries. We aren’t treating this as a vacation. Training at home will help, but it’s harder to do things with the ball and that will be more noticeable.”
Players are preparing at home for the return of the season, but it may not happen. In fact, plans are already being made in case the campaign can’t be resumed which would possibly include Athletic qualifying for Europe on the merit of reaching the Cup final.
“We have no thoughts other than playing the Cup final. Right now we don’t want to think about any other scenario. Within the bad situation, yes, we would theoretically get the positive of playing in Europe, but I hope the final is played, mostly because it would mean that everything has been solved.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding football at the moment it’s been impossible to reschedule the Cup final. However, both clubs and the Spanish Football Federation are willing to wait as long as possible in hopes that fans will be able to attend the historic match.
“I don’t know when the final will be played. The important thing right now is everyone’s health, but I want to think that little by little this situation is improving and that the final will be playable. Let’s see if it is and if we can return to normality. It seems that it will be impossible for fans to attend the rest of the league games because of the dates, but with the Cup there is no definitive date. I want the best scenario and that would be playing with the fans.”
Whether or not the season returns, De Marcos is still under contract for one more year. It’s been over a decade since he joined Athletic from Alavés and the veteran is determined to help the team in any way possible.
“The club and I know each other very well. What I want is to be in good condition, to be a player who contributes to the team and to the club. If that situation changes because my performance isn’t good due to injuries or for whatever reason then a decision will have to be made. I am very aware of all of this and what I want is to be in the best possible position to be important for the team and for the club. I have to be better than I’ve been this last year.”
When the next transfer window opens things could look vastly different due to the financial impact that comes with the football stoppage. De Marcos is unsure what moves Athletic will look to make but is confident that Gaizka Garitano, who has yet to sign a contract renewal, will continue as manager.
“The coronavirus issue has changed the situation worldwide and at Athletic as well. I don’t know how the summer will go, if there will be signings or departures. I don’t know, but the expected scenario will have changed. I think Gaizka will continue, but I have no idea. It’s the decision of the coach and the club. We are very happy with the coach.”
Although it’s very likely that Garitano will remain the Athletic manager, Aritz Aduriz’s time at the club is coming to an end. The striker is set to retire after the Cup final, whenever that takes place, and De Marcos was full of praise for his teammate and friend.
“Aduriz has been incredible and we have all enjoyed him very much. We have been lucky to spend many years with him. It’s been a privilege to share the locker room with him and we still hope that he will have the best moment of his career in the Cup final. We will fight for it. Will Asier (Villalibre) take his place? Well, logically someone has to take it when he’s done.”
Keeping an eye on the future, De Marcos is exited about what Oihan Sancet and Unai Vencedor can bring to the squad. “They can help the team, that’s a reality,” he said. “It’s important that players from Lezama with quality come up. The academy is the bet of this club so now it’s their turn to take the step.”
At this point it’s very likely that the Segunda B and Tercera will not complete the season, but will still hold the promotional playoffs. If that turns out to be the case, De Marcos will be thrilled to see Bilbao Athletic and CD Basconia compete for a chance at promotion.
“It’s very good for them and we can’t forget Juvenil A who aren’t going to play again this season but are a reference of how much quality is coming through the academy. There are many players to highlight in these three teams and that gives us peace of mind because right now there are many important players in the first team who were at Bilbao Athletic or Basconia years ago.”
Óscar De Marcos has made 389 appearances for Athletic throughout his career, winning the Spanish Super Cup, and dreams of lifting the Copa del Rey title. That opportunity is coming soon, but for now De Marcos is doing his part in light of the ongoing pandemic by staying home with his family and following the guidelines provided by healthcare experts.