This is more than I deserve – Aduriz thanks Athletic Bilbao for 'unforgettable' career

By Sports Desk May 22, 2020

Aritz Aduriz said his farewell inside an eerily quiet San Mames stadium was more than he deserved at the end of a storied career.

The 39-year-old announced his retirement this week after 20 years playing mostly in LaLiga with Athletic Bilbao, for whom he scored 118 league goals.

The Spain international striker was given a special send-off on the Athletic home pitch on Friday, with team-mates giving him and his family a guard of honour as he took one more walk on the turf.

A celebration of his career would likely have seen the stands packed with supporters were it not for health protocols during the coronavirus pandemic making such an occasion impossible.

Aduriz, though, thinks he has already received more than enough recognition.

"This is more than I think I deserve," he said. "I think I've had a load of tributes. I've enjoyed it so much here. I don't feel they have to say goodbye to me.

"I've had so much fun that this is more than I ever imagined.

"Athletic are special, different. Above all, there's a crazy human level that makes it like a gang competing against the rest of the world. That makes us different."

Aduriz chose to retire after doctors advised he needs hip replacement surgery, with the weeks during Spain's strict lockdown showing him the time was right to stop.

It had been hoped his final match would be in the Copa del Rey final against Basque rivals Real Sociedad, but Aduriz does not believe he would have been of much use to his side even if he tried to play.

"I'd been fighting for some time," he said. "After this lockdown, that was the end.

"The body has a limit and the hip made that fight unbalanced. These two months at home have been very difficult for the hip.

"The team is better off without me being there. I couldn't be there in these conditions."

Aduriz confirmed his retirement via a dignified social media post in which he told fans his goodbye was "just an anecdote" amid the trauma of the COVID-19 crisis.

He was similarly reluctant to feel downcast on Friday as he reflected on a career he never thought possible.

"It's a very beautiful day for me. It's not sad at all," he said. "I would never have imagined such a long and beautiful journey, from start to finish. It's a day to be happy and thankful, although it's not easy speaking in the middle of San Mames with so much silence!

"The hardest thing won't be not playing in these remaining 11 games [of the league season], nor in that much-loved and sought-after cup final. The hardest thing will be not being with this squad anymore. I'll miss you all so much. Thank you all for this journey. It's been wonderful, unforgettable.

"I liked football, but it was unthinkable that I'd get to play a game for Athletic. If I've reached this point in my life, aged 39, it's because I've done what I liked the most. I've had a great time."

Related items

  • Mbappe and Neymar are 'very happy' at PSG, says Herrera Mbappe and Neymar are 'very happy' at PSG, says Herrera

    Ander Herrera insisted Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were "very happy" at Paris Saint-Germain and said the Ligue 1 giants were more likely to buy stars than sell them.

    Mbappe and Neymar have been linked with moves away from PSG, with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively reportedly interested in the forwards.

    But Herrera said both forwards looked happy at PSG, who claimed a third straight Ligue 1 title when this season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Asked who would be harder to retain if PSG had to sell one of the stars, the midfielder told AS: "I don't know, because I don't know what they earn or the income they generate for the club, which is still a company.

    "But I do know that both are key in the project and I see them very happy and involved with PSG."

    PSG landed Neymar for a world-record €222million from Barca in 2017, while Mbappe joined permanently from Monaco the following year for a reported €135m.

    Herrera said the French giants were more accustomed to buying stars than selling them.

    "You have to take into account a fundamental aspect, and I have discussed it with Kylian, that PSG is not a club that sells its stars, on the contrary, it buys them," he said.

    "It has enough economic muscle to support both of them."

  • Di Maria happy at PSG, glad he didn't join Barcelona Di Maria happy at PSG, glad he didn't join Barcelona

    Angel Di Maria insisted he wanted to finish his career in Europe at Paris Saint-Germain, saying he was happy he did not leave for Barcelona in 2017.

    Di Maria, 32, was linked with a switch to Camp Nou three years ago after just two seasons at PSG and with Neymar arriving from the LaLiga giants.

    But the Argentina attacker ended up staying in Paris, and said he was happy that had been the case.

    "I was very happy in Paris, but people at the club at the time told me some things, which turned out to be lies in the end," Di Maria told L'Equipe.

    "Barca tried to get me to come. The two clubs discussed it, but PSG did not want to sell me and it ended there.

    "These lies annoyed me a lot but, in the end, not leaving was a good thing because I am very happy in Paris today."

    Di Maria, who has scored 12 goals in 37 games this season, is out of contract at PSG next year.

    The former Real Madrid and Manchester United attacker said he wanted to stay at PSG.

    “Ending my career in Europe with PSG is the only thing I want and have in mind," Di Maria said.

    He added: "As for the rest, I don't know for the moment. No discussions have been initiated and this is not my intention at this time."

  • Napoli players rally behind grieving boss Gattuso Napoli players rally behind grieving boss Gattuso

    Napoli players showed their support for Gennaro Gattuso by holding a minute's silence on Friday as the grieving head coach returned to training.

    Gattuso is mourning after it was announced on Tuesday that his sister Francesca had died at the age of 37 following an illness.

    She had worked as a secretary with Serie A club Milan, where Gattuso spent 13 years as a player and was later head coach.

    Gattuso, 42, has been in charge of Napoli for almost six months, after succeeding Carlo Ancelotti in December.

    The bond between the coach and his players, led by skipper Lorenzo Insigne, was made clear by the players' response to Gattuso at the Castel Volturno training ground on Friday.

    "The day began with a very touching moment: the team wanted to express their closeness and make Gennaro Gattuso feel all their affection with a virtual hug," Napoli's website announced.

    "Captain Insigne and the whole team observed a minute of recollection in memory of the Azzurro coach's sister before the start of training."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.