Kepa Arrizabalaga “I Always Did My Best And Defended Athletic With Pride”
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s departure from Athletic in the summer of 2018 was rife with controversy. For years the goalkeeper had been viewed as the second coming of Iribar and was living up to expectations, but just as he was about to enter his prime he left for Chelsea. Since his exit, Arrizabalaga has struggled to justify his €80 million price tag and Unai Simón has become the hero at San Mamés.
The emergence of Simón has helped to lessen the blow of losing Arrizabalaga. In fact, due to the compensation involved the move can even be considered great business for the club. However, for fans are still unwilling to forgive the Lezama product for leaving his boyhood club.
Speaking with Juan Castro of Marca, Arrizabalaga was asked about his feelings towards Athletic. The 25-year-old explained that he still loves the club and personally believes that he left in a positive way.
“Athletic Club is my home. I have been a fan since I was little and I still am. Will I ever return? I don’t know what the future holds, it’s difficult to foresee. It’s a club that I have great love for and that I follow every day. I was raised and developed there and I still have close friends at the club. I think they have a good image of me. I always did my best and defended Athletic with pride.”
Fans didn’t understand Arrizabalaga’s choice to leave the club, especially considering that he had just signed a new contract a few months before departing for England. “I decided to leave in order to see what my ceiling was as a player,” he said. “It was a decision I thought about a lot.”
Often compared to José Ángel Iribar during his time at the club, Arrizabalaga had the opportunity to learn from the club legend.
“I was lucky to have several conversations with him and we had a good relationship. I remember on that, on a trip to Europe, I got to sit between Iribar and Amorrortu. I was young, maybe 16 or 17, and they gave me advice throughout the entire trip. Having him around is something I will never forget. It was incredible.”
Kepa Arrizabalaga had the potential to become one of the faces of a generation at Athletic, but his career has taken a much different path. The move to Chelsea has been a disappointment and recent reports suggest that he could soon be on the way out of London.