Athletic de Bilbao are one of the biggest Spanish clubs located in the Basque country of Spain. Bilabo are traditional superpowers in Spain and are only one of the three clubs not to have ever been relegated from the Spanish first division. They have been one of the founding members of La Liga way back in 1928 and have won the first division title on 8 occasions and the Copa Del Rey a massive 24 times.
Football was introduced in Bilbao by British steel and shipyard workers and Basque students returning from schools in Britain and therefore football in Bilbao owes much to British influence. The first group established their won club christened Bilbao Football Club in the early 1890s and the students founded the Athletic Club in 1898.
The two clubs would eventually merge in 1902 (although some historians beg to differ on the exact year) and absorb the name Athletic Club de Bilbao. Bilbao are also said to have taken their colours (red and white stripes) from either Sunderland or Southampton in England.
Athetic de Bilbao clinched their first ever la Liga title in 1930 but their last Spanish conquest came in 1984 under coach Javier Clemente who led Bilbao to a league and Cup double that year. Since then Bilbao have stayed mostly near about the mid-table position but at times have dangerously flirted with relegation.
The club does have a very traditional approach when it comes to football. They have always played with teams comprising of players from the Basque country and the club sustains this policy even today. Of course that rule has been modified since nowadays any player who has acquired his skills in the Basque nation can play for Bilbao. Many suppose that it is this particular philosophy of the club that has inhibited it from becoming one of Europe’s elite.
Athletic Club de Bilbao play their home matches at San Mames, which is named after Saint Mammes. San Mames has a capacity of 39,750 but is soon to be bulldozed down. Bilbao bear the nickname Rojiblancos or Zurigorri and are also sometimes referred to as Los Leones.
They are currently coached by Joaquin Caparros and presided by Fernando Garcia Macua. Some of the best-known players in the current Bilbao squad are Asier del Horno, Yeste, Iraola and Joseba Etxeberria.
The club’s major achievements include:
- 8 La Liga
- 24 Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup)
- 1 Spanish SuperCup