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Athletic Bilbao – unique in modern football wins the King's Cup

Athletic Bilbao – unique in modern football wins the King's Cup

Special story: Athletic Bilbao wins the Spanish Cup for the first time in 40 years.Image: www.imago-images.de

Only Basque players are allowed to play for Athletic Bilbao, yet the club is an integral part of La Liga. Now he has won a major title for the first time in 40 years, creating an extraordinary atmosphere in his home.

April 7, 2024 at 2:04 pmApril 7, 2024 at 2:53 pm

Niklas Helbling
Niklas Helbling

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To understand the importance of this success, a short video clip from the brothers Iñaki and Nico Williams is enough. The two players cry in each other's arms, as not only have they achieved the greatest success of their careers, but they have also written a very special history with Athletic Bilbao. The Williams brothers are key figures in the Basque side's first cup win since the double 40 years ago.

As in 1984, Bilbao won the Copa del Rey last night. In even more dramatic fashion, Bilbao won the final over Mallorca, which started at 10pm, on penalties after midnight. And then all the dams broke, and not just for Inaki and Neko Williams.

More than 80,000 Bilbao fans are said to have made the journey from the Basque Country to Seville, where the final was played, half of them without tickets. When Alejandro Berenguer scored the decisive penalty, there was no stopping the majority of fans in the 60,000-capacity La Cartuja stadium, where neither Betis nor Sevilla play their home matches.

Fans of both clubs have already created an extraordinary atmosphere in Seville this afternoon. About 25,000 people came from the island of Mallorca to support their team. Although the trip was not special, the fans who traveled with us will not soon forget this day. Just like the Basques, the islanders also provided a great backdrop.

But there was also a big celebration after the match at the stadium of Athletic Club, which, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, ​​has been the only club to have always been part of La Liga since the foundation of the Primera Division in 1929. . Because anyone who didn't travel to Seville was in San Mames, home of Bilbao. More than 53,000 Basques watched their heroes end a long period of suffering without winning a league or cup title – since 1984, Bilbao have won the Spanish Super Cup only twice (2015 and 2021).

“It's a dream,” Neco Williams said excitedly after the match. Coach Ernesto Valverde, who won two championships and one cup as Barcelona coach, said: “This title cannot be compared to any other title. “Especially because of the great importance he has for the club.” On the one hand, it means that Bilbao can finally celebrate their 25th cup win after losing the cup final in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, both of which were held in April 2021 due to the coronavirus. On the other hand, the club has great importance in football-mad Bilbao – which is also due to a rule that is almost unique in modern football.

Only players born or raised in the Basque Country are allowed to play for the club. It's surprising that Athletic Bilbao is still so successful. The reason for this is, among other things, the successful youth work that has produced players such as Andoni Zubizarreta, Fernando Llorente and Aymeric Laporte. The Williams brothers also benefited from this. For them, the cup win culminated in a movie-worthy story at a new climax.

As they lay in each other's arms after the game, they were probably also thinking about their parents. They took great risks to give their children a better life. The family originally came from Ghana, and from there Maria and Felix Williams crossed the Sahara – sometimes barefoot, as the father still suffers today – and arrived in Spain. At that time, Inaki Williams was already in his mother's womb.

Almost 30 years later, he is a Ghanaian international, but like his eight-year-old younger brother Niko, who was named man of the match in the final, he is a popular hero in the Basque Country.

Real and Barça and? These clubs have already become champions in Spain

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Real and Barça and? These clubs have already become champions in Spain

real madrid He is the record Spanish champion with 35 titles. The Royals last won the title in 2022.

Source: keystone/mariscal

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