Iago Herrerín “The Club Has Helped Me See That I’m Important”
The life of a footballer comes with many different emotions. The positive moments are incredible but the lows can feel never ending. Over the past few years Iago Herrerín has been constantly criticized by the Athletic fans but has learned how to handle the negativity. These days the 31-year-old prefers to focus on those who support him, but he’s never been afraid to speak his mind.
“Everyone handles criticism differently,” Herrerín told Robert Basic during an interview with El Correo. “There were times when it bothered me because I’m self-critical. When I make a mistake I admit it. Being honest with certain people seems to make it worse, but now I have more support than ever. I go to Lezama happy and train as best as possible.”
It’s taken time for Herrerín to learn how to accept the criticism. Still, it’s difficult at times and he admits that he’s been far less active on social media because of the harsh comments.
“It’s something that I try to put aside. The past is the past. I’ve had to evolve and learn to handle these things. It’s still not easy. I understand that fans prefer one player over another, but I don’t understand the attacks, insults, and threats. Now it’s not important to me. I have many people who support me, who are watching me, and I know that the percentage of bad is minimal compared to good.”
In spite of the treatment from fans Herrerín has continued to work hard for his place in the team.
“Everyone has ups and downs, better days and worse days. Last year I was a starter and now I’m not. I neither give up nor relax nor throw in the towel. It’s not the way I am or the way I enjoy sports. I will do my best to play. I’m privileged to make a living doing what I like and to be healthy. Seeing what’s going one, criticizing others is nonsense.”
Herrerín has spoke openly about his frustrations with lack of minutes, even suggesting that he’s ready to leave Athletic during the next transfer window. His future may be uncertain, but for now the goalkeeper is only thinking about completing the current campaign.
“I’m just focused on finishing this season whether I’m playing or not, but always helping. I want to end the year by winning the Cup even if I’m carrying bottles of water. I want to be happy and feel important. Although I’m not playing, the club has helped me see that I’m important in the locker room because of my experience and my character. But there also comes a time when you want other things. I have the confidence to discuss everything with the club. I’ve always been a face to face person. We’ll talk when this is all over.”
When asked if he prefers to leave or finish the final year of his contract, Herrerín explained that it’s not real his decision to make.
“There are two things here, the club who would have to allow me to leave and then talking to the coach and the club to find out what they think. Once that is done the decision will be made. The one in control is the club. I’m not thinking about it right now, only about finishing the league and winning the Cup. This season has been difficult, but this is football and sometimes there are hard moments.”
For now, Herrerín is committed to helping the team but it’s unclear if the season will resume. “It’s weird,” he said describing the current football stoppage. “The summer holidays are one month and that feels short, but this seems eternal. We don’t know anything. We want to go back as soon as possible and it will be slow and staggered. We’re at the expense of what may happen so we’re just waiting.”
The hope is that the campaign will return at some point. “We want to play and we’ll do it whenever, during the summer if needed,” said Herrerín. “It doesn’t matter. Then we have a beautiful Cup final and we want it to be played with the fans. We don’t know anything right now and that’s what kills us.”
Even if the season does return games will likely have to be played behind closed doors. On the other hand, the Copa del Rey final could be postponed until later in the year so that fans will be able to safely attend.
“No one wants for the final to be played without fans. For the league, there are 11 games left and if we want to finish with a normal schedule it would have to be done behind closed doors. There’s more uncertainty with the Cup. Hopefully it can be played with fans which is important.”
Unfortunately, the football stoppage came at a time when Athletic were starting to string together good performances. On the other hand, the time off will give several players the opportunity to recover from injuries.
“We were in a good moment before the break. We won in Valladolid and had advanced to the Cup final. If we had to start now the time off could benefit us because we had quite a few players who were carrying many minutes and have now rested. When we are physically well there are few teams who can match us.”
Herrerín also took a moment to address the team’s recent decision to lower wages in response to the football stoppage. The veteran says it wasn’t required, but that the players wanted to do their part to the help.
“I don’t think it was difficult to come to an agreement and we didn’t have to do it. Contractually we weren’t obligated, but of course we wanted to do it and we have done so voluntarily to help. It was about talking to the club. It was simple. They knew that if they needed us they would have us. We wanted to help the employees and Socios so that they don’t lack anything.”
Athletic was one of the last La Liga clubs to announce a wage reduction. “The club told us there was no rush,” said Herrerín. “Others had already done it and Athletic is healthy, but always wants to help. The conversations with the captains were calm and good. We talked, we put our positions together, and we saw the numbers to help.”
In the beginning there was talk of a wage reduction not even being necessary. However, things changed over the time and the players were prepared to do what was necessary.
“At first the club didn’t think it was going to be that serious and told us calmly that nothing would happen to us. Then everything evolved. Society is as it is and the club will have losses whether the season returns or not and the Socios have paid a lot of money for which they deserve to be supported. Once we saw everything we took a step forward. Before the club told us anything we already went to the club.”
The league has been constantly working on plans to resume the campaign with some reports suggesting that teams could be close to returning to training. At the same time, if the Cup final isn’t played until next season the Spanish Football Federation have proposed that Athletic be given a place in Europe as reward for reaching the final. “It would be perfect for us,” Herrerín exclaimed. “Where can I sign for that? It wouldn’t be bad. It was like that before and then they changed it.”
Herrerín’s future with the club may be in question, but his commitment is not. Regardless of whether or not he ultimately leaves the club, Iago Herrerín is committed to helping the team and dreams of lifting the Copa del Rey title.