Iraola approaches Athletic landmark

Andoni Iraola will make his 400th appearance for Athletic Bilbao when the Basque club travel to Espanyol on Sunday.

Now aged 30, Iraola made his Athletic debut under Ernesto Valverde against Barcelona in August 2003 and has since gone on to make the right-back berth at San Mames his own. But, nine years on, he admits that he never imagined going on to reach such a landmark.

“It is a figure that, when you start out, seems very difficult to reach,” he commented.

“I'd like to thank all the Coaches I have had and who have placed their faith in me.

“I wasn't very young when I started, I was 21, but since breaking into the first team I have been pretty consistent and I have played quite a lot of games.”

Iraola has started six of Athletic's seven matches under Marcelo Bielsa this season, the exception being the 3-3 draw away to HJK Helsinki in the Europa League play-off second leg.

On that occasion, the Spanish international was rested with Athletic 6-0 up from the first leg.

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