Óscar De Marcos “I’m Very Proud To Have Been Born Athletic”
Six months have passed since Óscar De Marcos last took the field. The right-back was forced to undergo surgery in December to repair an ankle that had been a problem for over a year. De Marcos was close to returning to training before the health crisis put the season on hold but has now had extra time to continue recovering. On Tuesday the 31-year-old was the latest player to participate in a virtual press conference where he answered questions sent in by fans on social media.
How would you explain the feeling of belonging to Athletic?
“It is very difficult, in the end every one would represent it in a different way. I’m very proud to have been born Athletic, to be able to defend this unique philosophy against the rest of the world. Thanks to that, my day to day is unmatched. Athletic have given me more than I have given the club. I feel privileged.”
How did you feel when you first stepped into the Athletic locker room?
“Many things at once, fear, nervousness, pride…It’s a situation where as much as you imagine it you don’t know how far you’ve come until you’re there. I remember that I arrived, put on the warmup suit, looked at myself in the mirror and said ‘wow, how did I get here?’. It’s a difficult feeling to explain.”
You were unable to play the last final because of cards. Will this break help you better recover from your injury and recover?
“It is true that unfortunately I missed the last one. I played the entire Cup and I missed the last match. In this case I have not been able to play any game due to injury and I hope I can be available and play for a minute. Winning the Cup would be a dream and we would get to take out La Gabarra. We want it to happen and to enjoy it with the fans.”
How did it feel to score in Manchester in such a memorable tie?
“It’s one of the most beautiful memories I have in football. I hope there are better ones to come and they come this year because we have a unique opportunity. Those qualifying rounds gave a mental boost to all of the squad. Eliminating that Manchester team made us believe that we were important. It was a night that I think neither the fans nor the players will forget.”
You’ve become a father while being confined to home. How have you lived it?
“Well, like everyone else, at home, but in a different way. It’s true that I would have liked my son to be known by his grandparents, his uncles, my friends…everyone. We’re in contact through video calls but it’s not the same. We would like to be hugged and kissed. for that we will have to wait, but there is much desire. I only see those from the supermarket but we are enjoying it and there is a lot of drool. There’s many things to do and I’m looking forward to seeing family.”
What did you learn from Marcelo Bielsa?
“Many things, many values . I have him on an altar. Everyone can say that it’s because of what he gave me in a sporting sense, which is evident, but I value many more things about Marcelo. I keep the good, which is a lot. He taught me many values of life, to appreciate the small things.”
You signed as a forward, went on to be a playmaker and ended up as a winger. How do you handle it?
“You have to adapt in life. When I was little I thought I was a forward. Over time I have realized that I may not be anything or that I can play anywhere. I’ve been adapting to what they have been asking from me. A striker or attacking midfielder plays closer to the goal and we all like it, although I’m not a scorer, but I have found myself comfortable in all three positions and I have done it at ease.”
You’ve gone half a year without playing. Do you have anxiety?
“No, because in six months I have not been well because of the discomfort. Therefore I have not had that anxiety to play. Now I am feeling much better and my stomach is beginning to stir a little.”
Which of your goals do you like or value the most?
“The one against Tromso, which was in my first year, was beautiful and the one that I value the most was in Manchester. It was a key moment for us in that scenario, with the fans just behind that goal. That was incredible.”
What has been your best season? And your preferred position?
“I think that Marcelo’s two years were memorable for all the players. We all gave a very high level of performance, the football that was played was very attractive and, the position I played went very well with my qualities. I have no preferred position, I like to adapt. In Marcelo’s scheme we played with two pivots and that gave me a lot of freedom to move. When Ernesto came he played with two midfielders and a playmaker and I only played as a playmaker. I didn’t move as well and didn’t generate as much as I should have there.”
Working at home, can you assess if your ankle is ok?
“We have different tools to move and exercise. I have moved fairly well on the treadmill and bike. One of the biggest problems I had was the first impulse at the start with my left foot. I am much better now and this time at home has helped me recover. I don’t know if I’m 100 percent, but I’ve come a long way. Injuries take time and in my case confinement has been helpful. You have to look to something positive in this delicate situation.”
How do you think the break will affect La Liga?
“In the end, this situation will affect everything. Hopefully it can be played again as soon as possible which will mean that the situation has improved. We will be at the club’s disposal, trying to end the League in the fairest way possible, as long as health is not put at risk, which, logically, is the most important thing.”
Do you think having played four finals in recent years can help in this final?
“I hope it helps us. Having played those finals in the last ten years can give us some experience, and we will know how to face the moments before the game. In those other finals enthusiasm and joy were given to the fans. Maybe we can use that experience to be a little calmer and face it another way. Hopefully it will help us bring the title home this time.”
How did it feel to see the kids singing the hymn and the songs from home on the day of the final?
“I was very excited when I saw the photos and videos. On the 18th all the neighbors were out on the balcony, they played the anthem, and were all dressed in Athletic shirts. That makes you feel very proud and happy. You see that everyone feels the same, in a way you represent them on the field but you are also one of them. It’s very satisfying for anyone.”
Does the 18 shirt have special meaning?
“Of course it has a special meaning. Before I took it Gurpegi had it and he’s always been my reference in the team since I came to Athletic. He’s someone with whom I shared many years and from whom I’ve been able to learn a lot. He’s always had values that represent Athletic in all its essence and when he left I had the option of taking his number. In turn, Iker also wanted 10, because he had suffered an injury with 19 and didn’t have good feelings with that number. We were both going to be very happy. No one stopped us so we did it that way.”
Have you had any idols or references?
“I’ve already mentioned of Gurpegi. When you are little you always look at players and I really liked Joseba Etxeberria and Ronaldinho. Then when I came here I spent a season with Etxeberria and he became even more of an idol.”
What will happen after football?
“I have some other ambitions and I will opt to isolate myself from football, but almost everyone I know eventually returns to football. I like Athletic and it’s probably that I will want to belong to Athletic in the future but that doesn’t depend on me alone.”