Andoni López “There Is Nothing Like Lezama And Athletic”
Andoni López participated in Friday’s virtual press conference, along with three other Athletic players who are out on loan, and spoke openly about his experiences away from the club. After spending last year with Almeria the 24-year-old has faced stiff competition for minutes this year at Elche, but is happy with his growth over the campaign.
“It’s my second year on loan and I’m improving,” López said when asked how his season has gone. “This year I’m not enjoying the minutes that I would like, but I have played quite well and the minutes have been positive.”
López went on to explain that it’s important to play regular football at his age. If that wasn’t going to happen at Athletic then leaving was the best option to continue developing.
“Going on loan is good, especially when you weren’t going to play. At Athletic we weren’t going to have the necessary minutes to continue growing. A loan is also a way to seek that improvement and, personally, you learn from the experiences with different clubs and that’s positive for everyone.”
Although López has enjoyed his separate loan spells, the defender made it clear that nothing compares to being at Athletic. Time away has shown him just how special it is to represent the Zurigorri.
“I’ve been very lucky to spend the last two years at important clubs. Both have known better times but are doing well. I’ve always said that Athletic is a club like no other and when you go on loan you see the family and union that is back home. I’ve enjoyed playing for Elche and Almeria, the teams have been great, but there is nothing like Lezama and Athletic.”
The ultimate goal of any loan is to prepare a player to return to their club ready to contribute. López recognizes that he won’t be the one to decide his future with Athletic, but he will do everything possible to convince the coach.
“We try to show that we can have a place, that we can be part of the first team squad next season. There are many more people who have to decide whether or not we will be in the team, but each one of us is trying to do their best to show that we can contribute at Athletic. We’re all on that path.”
López has already experienced on preseason under Gaizka Garitano and will do so again before the start of the next campaign. The 24-year-old is aware of what he must do to earn his place in the squad.
“I’ve had two preseasons with the first team, the last one was the first with Gaizka. When the preseasons starts we all start form scratch and you try to give the coach a lot of reasons why you should be in the team. In the end it will be a matter of work, improvement, and being healthy. I will do my best to be there.”
It’s been over two years since López made his first team debut during which he conceded a penalty. While many players would have been discouraged by the mistake, the Lezama product says it made him a better player.
“Many people have asked me about my debut. It happened when the team was in a difficult situation and couldn’t find the style of play they were looking for. You don’t know when these opportunities will come. I tried to do my best and in various phases of the match I felt good in the Primera rhythm. It’s true that I made an error that hurt us in the game, but I’m happy that I didn’t give up that day. Despite everything, it’s a good memory rather than something bad. From that day on I made a major change in my life and improved a lot as a player and as a person.”
Due to the possibility of the Copa del Rey final not being played until next season, López was asked if he hopes to be able to participate. However, he had a very interesting opinion on why it wouldn’t be fair for him to be involved in the match.
“I’m at a club that had a direct match against Athletic in the Cup. I also think that the final has to do with this year’s squad. It’s always been my dream to enjoy a Cup final and win it with Athletic, but out of respect for Elche and the current players I don’t think I should be allowed to be a part of it.”
López has made 13 appearances for Elche so far this season and will likely be given the chance to compete with Mikel Balenziaga once he returns from loan. With one year left on his contract, Andoni López is determined to earn a permanent role in the team and continue his career with Athletic Club.