Erik Moran has been called a champion by Athletic Coach Ernesto Valverde for playing against Valladolid hours after his father’s funeral.
Athletic won the game 4-2 and Valverde told a post-match Press conference that Moran displayed a great deal of courage by taking his place in the team two hours after attending the service for his father, who passed away on Friday.
“Erik demonstrated a lot today and he wanted to be here,” Valverde said.
“After the match I told the locker room that Moran is a champion and we all have a lot to thank him for.
“We needed him and he has always been available despite such a complicated situation.”
Athletic had to come from a goal down to see off Valladolid, Oscar opening the scoring after 15 minutes.
The home side still trailed past the hour mark but an Ibai Gomez brace and goals from Oscar de Marcos and Ander Herrera delivered the points.
Valdet Rama added an injury time consolation for Juan Ignacio Martinez.
Valverde explained he changed the team’s tactics as they pushed to pull back the visitors, describing the overall game as one of Athletic’s best under his leadership.
“We were looking for more balance to overcome what happened.
“The performance was very complete, perhaps one of the best of the season.
“We had to score when we got the chance and continue in the same dynamic. The idea was to persevere.”
Valverde added he would not allow the Athletic players to get ahead of themselves now they are in fourth place, nor let attention drift from the League to the Cup meeting with Atletico Madrid on Thursday.
“We’ve got 39 points from 20 games. These are important numbers.
“There is still a lot to do.
“We can’t take our eyes off the League table.
“We can think about the Cup but no further, there isn’t time for that.
“Atletico will lose a few games even though they are joint League leaders.
“We’re going to try and make it happen.
“The League is the priority but we will see about the Cup.”