Tuesday, November 28

‘Aita’ Zubizarreta turns 60

  • Andoni Zubizarreta, the Wembley-92 goalkeeper, winner of two leagues with Athletic and another four with Barça, becomes his sixties this Saturday

  • His sons Markel, Luken and Jone remember how their childhood was while the outstanding disciple of ‘Chopo’ Iribar became one of the best goalkeepers in the world

  • The former Barça player is still the player with the most league games: a total of 622

Fresh from the Anahuac Mayad University, on Mérida (Yucután, Mexico), where he gave a conference entitled ‘Sports management: Leadership in millimeters’ and participated in a heated debate with hundreds of students who he encouraged to be firm and persevering, Andoni Zubizarreta (Vitoria, Álava, October 23, 1961) He is about to turn 60 surrounded by his loved ones and with the extensive collection of sporting achievements (in miniature) kept on a beautiful shelf in his parents’ house, Charo and Pedro Mari, in Aretxabaleta.

This ‘aita’ (father, in Basque) immense, big, turns 60 surrounded by his family and protected by his wife, Ane District, an engineer and landscaper, who has always watched football from the sidelines and has never gone crazy taking her children, Markel, Luken and Our to the stadiums where her husband played and, much less, turning the popularity, fame and glory of ‘aita’ into the marrow of the Zubizarreta Barrutia family. And that could have been because this ‘Zubi’ who this Saturday, in the preview of a classic, will extinguish 60 candles, won that mythical final of Wembley-92, 6 Leagues (two with Athletic and four with Barça), 3 King’s Cups, 1 European Cup Winners’ Cup, 3 Spanish Super Cups and one European Super Cup.

Therefore, it has its merit to be one of the myths of Athletic and Barça, the two clubs that are more than one club, and continue to be ‘aita’ at home, especially if you continue to be the footballer who has played the most league games (622, still 37 more than Betic Joaquín), the first player in reach 300 victories (then they would surpass him Leo Messi, Sergio Ramos me Iker Casillas) and also, the first to wear the national team jersey 100 times. And just one more piece of information: in those 622 league games, ‘Zubi’, our ‘aita’, was always the starter. What’s more, if it hadn’t been for the 1984 footballers’ strike, this marvelous grandfather would have reached the number of 288 games played consecutively (he stayed at 184), some less than the sympathetic Iñaki Williams, Go also Athletic !, which already adds 203.

The girl of the house

Our she is the girl of the family. He is 24 years old, he is Degree in Business Administration and Head of the Social and Corporate Department (CSR) of LG and he always shows his surprise and disbelief when they remind him that his father has been (and is) the one who has played the most league games. «To me, in the same way that it seems strange to me that he is famous, popular, it seems even more strange that he has played so many games, because I did not see him play any. I was born the year before ‘aita’ retired, so all I know about football, about his football, are the miniatures of all the cups that he has won that the grandparents have at home ».

Jone acknowledges that until the appearance of Markel’s two children, his older brother, Ibai, 4, and little Uxue, 2, she was the queen of the house and the spoiled of ‘aita’. When you talk to Markel and his brother Luken, they think he still is. “We have wonderful parents who have now returned to Bilbao, but who do everything possible and impossible to visit us in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​where we are scattered,” says Jone.

Luken, the middle one, 29 years old, is Medical specialist in orthopedic surgery and traumatology and works, piece rate, at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona. «When I think of that ‘Zubi’ porterazo, serene, efficient, I think of how much fun I had when I accompanied him, aged 5 and 6, to training sessions on Saturdays in Paterna, in Valencia, and participated (and burst out laughing ) in the rounds with the prodigious and more than great Romario».

‘Aita’, is always

If Dr. Zubizarreta Barrutia is grateful for something, it is that his “father” has never “ever” been a counter of battles, a reporter of deeds. «He has always told us about his own when we have asked him, but he has never been a chive grandmother who wants to repeat his stories, his achievements and adventures. What’s more, when Markel and I, of course, did our first steps as goalkeepers, he never gave us lessons or corrected us. If we asked him our doubts about an action or goal conceded, he would give us his version. This is also how he acts as an ‘aita’: he is close, that you know that he is there just in case, that is, to see without being seen. As a goalkeeper, right? To be without being seen, observed ».

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“Absolute adoration” is what you feel Markel, 35 years old, graduated from INEF and sports manager of Barça women’s football, the one with the triplet. “Since we were little with him when we were little, we still wanted to have him by our side and, in my case, those talks so, so, gratifying and that I value so much for my work,” says Markel, who remembers ‘aita’ as “A sober doorman in front of the ‘popcorn makers’ of the time”.

Markel believes that in the way his ‘aita’ stopped “everything seemed easy, you even had the feeling that he was not making an effort and was the one who worked the hardest”, explains who was also a regular child at the so-called ‘Barça nursery’ , which was where the children of the ‘dream team’ met while their ‘aitas’ trained in the field next to the old Masia. «Luken has made rounds with Romário, okay, but I did them with ‘Michelino’ (Laudrup) and Hristo (Stoichkov), which is not bad, right? » Very sure. Not bad, no, great recess.


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