June 20th, 2024 | 9:36


The plummet of Iker Muniain

Mairenis Gomez

May 22, 2024 | 4:00 p.m.

The journey of an Athletic Club idol until his decline under the management of Ernesto Valverde

When one thinks of Athletic Club de Bilbao, it is inevitable to evoke the name of Iker Muniain. His career has been a reflection of the passion and commitment that characterize the team. However, his career has witnessed ups and downs, and his recent history is marked by the contrast between two coaches, Marcelino García Toral and Ernesto Valverde.

Marcellin: the rebirth of a leader under a clairvoyant vision

Marcelino García Toral, the 'orator of Careñes', came to Athletic with a clear mission, to revive a team that needed to dream again. With his tactical and motivational approach, he elevated Muniain to unsuspected levels. bUnder his direction, Iker became a key player, demonstrating his ability to create play and lead the attack from the midfield. The trust placed in him was translated into every pass, into every play that he masterfully put together.

Even the arrival of Marcelino was a breath of fresh air for Athletic. With his "clairvoyance" on the field, the team reached the final of the Copa del Rey, an achievement that resonated throughout Bizkaia. The fans saw Muniain as their captain, their role model, and Marcelino was the architect of this transformation.

The fall: Valverde and the collapse of an idol

Ernesto Valverde, known as 'Txingurri', returned to Athletic with a different vision. The relationship between Valverde and Muniain deteriorated rapidly. What had been a renaissance under Marcelino became a constant struggle under Valverde. The decision to relegate Iker to the bench was a hard blow not only for the player, but for all the fans who had seen him grow and shine at San Mamés.

Even Valverde, in his attempt to rejuvenate the team, began to prioritize other players such as Nico Williams, Iñaki Williams, Oihan Sancet and Alex Berenguer. Each decision seemed like a direct affront to Muniain, who saw his role on the team fade. Despite his professionalism, the frustration was palpable. It was not just a question of performance, but of identity and belonging.

The dismantling of Muniain's legacy under Valverde's management

Valverde's administration was marked by a "Malay drop", a slow but constant process of dismantling Muniain's legacy. Every game Iker didn't play in was a reminder that his time at the club he loved so much was coming to an end.

Goodbye: an end announced in San Mamés

Now Iker Muniain's farewell to Athletic Club was a moment full of mixed emotions. In his last game at San Mamés, Valverde made the final decision to replace him in the 63rd minute. The applause from the fans was deafening, a recognition of the years of dedication and passion that Iker had shown on the field.

This ending, although expected, was no less painful. For many fans, Muniain's departure symbolizes more than the departure of a player; It is the closing of a chapter full of glorious moments and disappointments. The "multiplication of passes and goals" that characterized his career will remain in the memory of all who saw him play.

The eternal legacy of Iker Muniain in the heart of Athletic Club

Without a doubt, Iker Muniain says goodbye with his head held high, aware of having given everything for his team. Although his path at Athletic ends here, his legacy will endure in the history of the club. Fans will always remember the captain who, with his zuria, gorria and ikurriña armband, led the team with courage and heart.

In life, as in football, there are moments of glory and moments of fall. For Iker Muniain, this stage at Athletic has come to an end, but his influence and memory will remain in every corner of San Mamés and in the hearts of Athletic Club fans.

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