The kilometer-long traffic jam of hundreds of trucks in Dover caused my Olentzero gift to arrive home the day after the Three Kings holiday. It was an English Birmingham shirt, with Mikel San José’s name on the back, by the grace of my soccer daughter, perhaps to thank so much travel to and from training. Surely ‘Sanjo’ is one of those who will face with nostalgia, even more from afar, this Super Cup of television format that is played this week and with Athletic as the leading guest, nor do I remember on the basis of what …
A minor trophy, they say they say, for which today more than one would kill given the crossing in the desert that is glimpsed, and that in the distance remains the bullet of that final cup that we do not want to imagine what it would be to lose it … while we dream of what would it be to win it …
He, ‘Sanjo’, was the architect of that goal that will last in our retina, that ball impossible to imagine, daring to try, but hunted from the central circle of the new San Mamés, and who ridiculed the rival goalkeeper’s header and shattered Ter Stegen’s unbeatable halo. From 47.5 meters away.
Then the three of Aduriz would come – the last lion to make a triplet to Barça had been Manu Sarabia in 1980-. Not even in dreams. Especially because neither the culé team was the releche that night, although Messi played, nor did Athletic play a gale, although it was a waste of Stakhanovism. Nothing to do with that torrential 2-2 between Bielsa and Guardiola in the old Cathedral, which even today makes us wet our taps when we remember it. Only that time the stars lined up for a result of spread bread and wet. Especially because it served to cement a title, they said, that ended a 31-year drought in the rojiblancas showcases.
Iraizoz, Laporte, Eraso, San José, Beñat, De Marcos, Susaeta, Etxeita, Aduriz, Balenziaga and Sabin Merino. The order does not matter. They were the “gang”, who would release for history from the balcony of Arenal the most fox of foxes. With this eleven today unrecognizable, of which ‘Demar’ and ‘Balentzi’ are barely standing – not forgetting Iago, Muniain and Williams who were also part of the squad – Athletic of the now-missed Txingurri Valverde thrashed SuperBarça 4-0 by Luis Enrique. A Barcelona that came from not losing a final since 2006. But that’s when Athletic arrived and ordered it to stop.
The 1-0 of the return, with the Catalan club stripping after the final whistle its shameful ‘bere Estiloa’, was a toll more than acceptable. «Barça entzun, Athletic txapeldun!», Was my headline of that chronicle. They were still tales of wine and roses. Not of thorns like now. Only Iraizoz, Aduriz and Gurpegi had been born when the last rojiblanco wound. So in a minor way … “It seems that we have won something, right?”, The great Navarrese captain asked rhetorically to the crowd gathered the day after. Thousands and thousands. Delivered. Grateful. Feeling important. Only. My daughter was there too. Sucking Athletic.
A few years have passed, Gurpegi, Iraola, Aduriz have hung up their boots, San José recalls memories of youth in the British Isles, Susaeta and Beñat try the less and less exotic adventure of Australian football, Iturraspe, forgive me, I would have to search Wikipedia if keep playing… And this time, like that one, the words should give way to the result.
In the previous one, we stopped being sentimental, heroic, newspaper archives, appeals, the villagers, the tears of Iribar, there was much to gain and little to lose. Losing, what is said to be losing, we already lost enough in Bucharest. And in the impossible cup finals against the Catalans.
This time, as in 2015, you have to go and take the rest, to gamble on one game, first, two, later. Without pretensions of all or nothing, neither to life or death, that enough disappointments we have already taken.
If the stars align again, well, we will celebrate another title again. Be careful, not 31, but 5 years later. And if someone continues to believe that he is a minor, you know, let him leave room downstairs on the balcony, that my daughter will be there. With me, with the ‘Sanjo’ shirt on my back. They know it even in Dover. “Athletic of my life!”, I headed the chronicle that one always yearns to write in that 4-0. And they say they say it was a minor trophy …