Gorka Iraizoz “Unai Simón Is Having A Great Season”
It’s always special when Athletic and Eibar meet on the football pitch. The two Basque neighbors have enjoyed a strong relationship over the years and a healthy rivalry has grown since Eibar earned promoted back in 2014. Gorka Iraizoz is one of the many players to have worn both shirts and is eagerly looking forward to Wednesday’s Derby.
Before going on to become one of the best goalkeepers in Athletic history, Iraizoz spent the 2004/2005 season with Eibar on loan from Espanyol. There he played alongside current Athletic manager Gaizka Garitano and the two are still close.
“Gaizka was my captain at Eibar,” Iraizoz told Fuera de Juego on Tuesday night. “He and (Antonio) Karmona were the references for others. He took care of me and from him I learned what it means to be a captain and how to behave. He’s someone who has been by my side.”
Iraizoz knows better than most what it means to be the starting goalkeeper at San Mamés. Unai Simón has now taken up the mantle and has the full backing of Iraizoz.
“Unai Simón is having a great season. He meets all the requirements and has all the qualities. He’s young and mentally very well prepared to bear the pressure of being a goalkeeper for Athletic. I’ve seen him grow from a young age and it fills you with joy to see how he’s evolved and obtained the reward.”
In closing, Iraizoz also praised former teammate Aritz Aduriz who recently announced his retirement. “Aduriz will have the eternal recognition of the fans and that will be for life,” said Iraizoz. “He’s given everything for Athletic, for the club we love, and that has its reward. The affection he’s receiving is fully deserved.”
Gorka Iraizoz made 392 appearances for Athletic during his career, third-most in club history among goalkeepers behind only José Ángel Iribar and Carmelo Cedrún. The 39-year-old retired from football at the end of last season but could soon pursue a career in coaching as the goalkeeper coach for Barakaldo.