While on vacation in the Basque Country this summer, I was lucky enough to score a short interview with Ibai Gómez, one of Athletic’s youngest players. We conducted the interview in Spanish and I promised I would put it in English. I know it’s been five months, but I always keep my word.
Interview transcript in English
A Basque in Boise: I’m Henar Chico, from Ortuella, but I’ve lived in the US for the last 16 years. As you can see [touching her baseball cap], I come representing the US and I have a blog, which I write because I like it, because it is fun. I showed you some pictures from when we watched the final in Boise, Idaho, USA, and we’re all dressed in our Athletic jerseys. Did you know there are people like us out there that get together to watch the games?
Ibai Gómez: Yes, we hear a lot of things, that there are people everywhere who support us. We’ve seen videos from many places in the world where people support us and that’s very encouraging. Knowing that people from far away support you is incredible.
ABIB: Great to hear that, because we’re out there. There are many like me, who are from here [the Basque Country], but many others are born overseas and they grow up to be Athletic fans.
IB: We know, it’s incredible. We’ve even seen videos from Morocco, from places where you would never imagine there’d be Athletic fans, and for us it’s very important. Having help from so far away is very touching
ABIB: Very good. I know when you’re from here and you want to play soccer, you wish to play in Athletic. How was it for you? Was it a progression or how did it happen?
IG: I wasn’t lucky enough to be with Athletic since the beginning. I played 16 years for Santutxu F.C., a local team here in Bilbao. Then I spent one year in the first team with Santutxu and jumped to 2B with Sestao River. While playing there, Caparrós [former coach for Athletic de Bilbao] and his technical staff came to see me and I got signed up. Unfortunately, during Caparrós’ year, I was injured for 7 months. Last year was a beautiful season. I started playing with Bilbao Athletic, I always trained on the top soccer field, and then I was lucky enough to play the whole season and we hope the next one is the same or even better.
ABIB: Let’s make it better, there we all were …
IG: What I always say, we don’t settle, but we don’t want to set goals, we have to work every day, we know how difficult it is.
ABIB: Last season was awesome.
IG: Yes, that’s why I’m saying we have to go day by day, game by game. The season is very long and we’ll have to see how things go.
ABIB: So, if you were not a soccer player, what would you be? Have you ever thought about it?
IG: Truth be told, I have been playing soccer since I was very young, since I was three, and I’ve never thought about it. There are sports I really like, I’m very athletic. I like playing paddle, tennis, basketball with friends… I like virtually every sport.
ABIB: So you’d have been some other professional athlete.
IG: I don’t know. I’ve been very lucky to get where I am with soccer, which is what I’ve always liked, since I was a kid.
ABIB: I’d have also been a soccer playing if I’d had the chance.
IG: I lived it at home, we’ve always liked soccer in my house.
ABIB: Yes, you had it at home. Well, before we do the video greeting. We’ve come to Lezama [where Athletic trains] with our kids to see the Athletic players, or you go out and everybody knows who you are. But then, it’s your life. How is it really?
IG: You feel people’s love and in the end, everybody knows you. Soccer is very important here and people know you, but they love you, it’s really nice. Seeing how people love you, that you can make kids smile… It’s very special for me.
ABIB: So you like that. Sometimes I think how it’d be when you’re out and about, or you’re tired…
IG: Yes, but in the end, I went through the same thing. I’ve always rooted for Athletic and came to Lezama to see them train, and when a player said hi, you left with a smile. It’s the least we can do now. We have to care for people because you feel their affection.
ABIB: We, the moms, thank you for that.
IG: Yes, it’s the least we can do. The whole team is very good at that, very nice people. It’s a great group.
From the Basque Country, greetings to all the Athletic fans in the USA, for all of Henar’s friends, Fermín Bilbao, the Zubizarreta boys, and specially for all the people in Boise.
Other Athletic related posts:
- Good luck Llorente
- The best part of the game
- The Lions of Bilbao: A view from the outside
- Once again, Athletic gets a jab at his ‘Basque-only players’ philosophy
- Fighting the cold
- Enter to win a book collection on Basque culture from Euskalkultura.com