In a world of multi-million pound transfers, eye-watering wages and superstar lifestyles off the pitch, here’s a European football club that is refreshingly different – steeped in tradition and nearly completely dependent on their academy, the ‘Lezama’, to provide a pipeline of talent to the first team. This is Athletic Club Bilbao.
Athletic, as they are commonly referred to in Spain, was founded over a century ago in 1898 and won the Copa del Rey title 23 times and numerous Spanish league titles before Real Madrid and Barcelona began their dominance. Coming from a country that has several thousand football clubs, Athletic stand out because they are known to only recruit players who come from the Greater Basque country that covers the north-east of Spain and some parts of France. Despite the limitations, some of the outstanding talents that have played for the club in recent times include Ander Herrera, now at Manchester United, Javi Martinez, now at Bayern Munich, and Fernando Llorente, now at Sevilla.
The Athletic Team Ready for a Match
Source: Athletic Club Facebook Page