Athletic Club is a Spanish football club from Bilbao in Biscay, Basque Country, Spain. The club has played in the Primera División of La Liga since its start in 1928. Of the founding members, only Athletic, Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona have never been relegated. Athletic are historically one of the most successful clubs in Spain. They have won La Liga on eight occasions and the Copa del Rey twenty-four times.
The club is known for its cantera policy of bringing young Basque players through the ranks, as well as recruiting top Basque players from other clubs. Athletic only signs professional players native to one of the seven Basque provinces: Biscay, Guipúzcoa, Álava and Navarre in Spain and Labourd, Soule and Lower Navarre in France. This has gained Athletic both admirers and critics. The club has been praised for promoting home grown players and club loyalty. Critics however see their policy as racist. Athletic Level of play dropped since Bosman case and rest of clubs with a lot of foreign stars and in last decade usually fights to avoid relegation.
Estadio San Mamés
AKA La Catedral (The Cathedral), is a football stadium in Bilbao, Spain. The stadium is the home of Athletic Club Bilbao. They are known as "Los leones de San Mamés-Bilboko leoiak" (The lions of San Mamés). They are known as Los leones because their stadium was built near a church called San Mamés (Saint Mammes). Mammes was an early Christian thrown to the lions by the Romans. The lions refused to eat Mammes and he was later made a saint.
History, Opened in 1913, the stadium is Spain's oldest, condition that has granted it its nickname, and can seat almost forty thousand people. The current stadium was almost completely rebuilt to host matches in the 1982 FIFA World Cup.
In March 2006 new project has been approved to rebuild the stadium increasing seats up to 56,000. The New San Mamés Stadium will be built in the adjacent terrain that was occupied until 2003 by the Bilbao International Trade Fair. Three quarters of the stadium will be built and then the matches will take place in the new stadium and the old one will be demolished. In the remaining terrain the last side of the new stadium will be completed and the University of the Basque Country will build a new campus. Sad and cvontroversial, Cathedral demolished!!!
Bilbao FC, Athletic Club and Team Bizcaya
Football was introduced to Bilbao by two distinct groups of players, both with British connections; British steel and shipyard workers and Basque students returning from schools in Britain.
In the late 1800s Bilbao was a leading port at the heart of an important industrial area with iron mines and shipyards nearby. It was the driving force of the Spanish economy and as a result attracted many migrant workers. Among them were miners from the north-east of England, and shipyard workers from Southampton and Portsmouth. The British workers brought with them (as to so many other parts of the world) the game of football. In the early 1890s these workers came together and formed Bilbao Football Club.
Meanwhile, sons of the Basque educated classes had made the opposite journey and went to Britain to complete their studies in civil engineering and commerce. While in the United Kingdom these students developed an interest in football and on their return to Bilbao they began to arrange games with British workers. In 1898 students belonging to the Gymnasium Zamacois founded the Athletic Club, using the English spelling. In 1901 a meeting was held in the Cafe Garcia which established more formal rules and regulations.
In 1902 the two Bilbao clubs formed a combined team, known as Club Vizcaya , in the first Copa del Rey. They returned with the trophy after defeating FC Barcelona in the final. This would lead to the eventual merger of the two clubs as Athletic Club de Bilbao in 1903. In the same year Basque students also formed Athletic Club de Madrid. This club later evolved into Atlético Madrid. The club's foundation date is a subject of debate among football historians. The club itself declares 1898, but others claim 1901 is the true founding year. There is also a strong case for 1903.
Rafael Moreno Aranzadi (August 8, 1892 – March 1, 1922), known by the nickname Pichichi, was a Spanish footballer who played for Athletic Bilbao and Spain during the 1910s and 1920s.
Born in Bilbao,Vizcaya, Pichichi played in his first Copa del Rey final in March 1913. Athletic Bilbao lost 1-0 to Racing Club de Irún. Later the same year, on August 21, the same opponents, now known as Real Unión were invited to play the inaugural game at San Mamés Stadium. Pichichi scored the very first goal at the new stadium.
He subsequently played in another five Copa del Rey finals for Athletic Bilbao, winning four of them. These included a three a row sequence between 1914 and 1916. Pichichi scored a hat-trick in the 1915 final as Athletic beat RCD Español 5-0. Athletic were also runners-up in 1920 and winners again in 1921. In 1920 Pichichi was also a member of the very first Selección that played at the Olympic Games in Belgium.
He died in 1922, aged 29, the victim of a sudden attack of typhus. In 1926, a bust was erected in his honour outside the San Mamés Stadium. It is tradition for teams visiting in Primera the stadium for the first time pay homage by leaving a bouquet of flowers at its base.
In 1953, Spanish sports newspaper Marca introduced the Trofeo Pichichi in his honour. The trophy is awarded to the top goalscorers in the Primera División and the Segunda División.Pichichi was easily identifiable on the pitch by his ever present white headgear and was noted as a prolific goalscorer. Pichichi and his future wife were also immortalised in a painting by Aurelio Arteta.
The First La Liga
Athletic were not the only Basque team represented in the 1920 squad. Other clubs such as Real Unión, Arenas Club de Getxo and Real Sociedad also provided players. These four clubs were all founding members of La Liga in 1928 and by 1930 they were joined by CD Alaves. This meant that five of the ten clubs in the Primera Division of Spain’s national league were from the Basque Country. The saying Con cantera y afición, no hace falta importación, translated as With home-grown teams and supporters, there is no need for imports made sense during these early days.
El BombínIn 1921 a new coach, Fred Pentland arrived from Racing Santander. In 1923 he led the club to victory in the Copa del Rey. He revolutionised the way Athletic played, favouring the short-passing game. In 1927 he left Athletic and coached Athletic Madrid, Real Oviedo and Spain. In 1929 he rejoined Athletic and he subsequently led Athletic to La Liga/Copa del Rey doubles in 1930 and 1931. The club won the Copa del Rey four times in a row between 1930 and 1933 and they were also La Liga runners-up in 1932 and 1933. In 1931 Athletic also defeated FC Barcelona 12-1, the latter’s worst ever defeat. (1st video, 0'52'')
ATHLETIC CLUB (last decade fighting to avoid relegation, best spanish club til 50's)
SAN MAMES, (dramatic match, last week 2007, win to avoid 1st relegation vs Levante)