Athletic Club Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz has announced his retirement from football.
The first touch of Aritz Aduriz’s last season was a last-minute overhead kick to beat Barcelona. His last touch was meant to come in an all-Basque Copa del Rey final. It would have been the perfect ending. Now he will never be able to say goodbye.
Aduriz: “This is how this journey ends for me, unforgettable and wonderful from start to finish.”
The statement explains that his hip problems are becoming so serious that even playing these last matches of the season when La Liga resumes is impossible now.
“The time has come,” Aduriz’s message began. “Many times, I have said that football will leave you before you leave it.
“Yesterday, the doctors told me to go to see the surgeon, sooner rather than later, to get a prosthetic to replace my hip and to try and go about my everyday life, as normally as possible.
“Unfortunately, my body has said ‘enough’. I can’t help my team-mates the way I would like to, nor the way that they deserve. That is the life of a professional athlete. Simple, very simple.”
Aduriz had intended 2019-20 to be his last season and it seemed he would get the chance of a famous farewell, with Athletic set to face Basque rivals Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey final.
However, the suspension of the Spanish season due to the coronavirus pandemic means there is no certainty when, or even if, the Copa final will be played.
“Unfortunately, we are living through situations much more grim and painful; the pandemic that we are suffering from has left us with irreparable damage and we have to keep fighting it, together,” he said.
“Therefore, I don’t want you to worry about me, this is just an anecdote. Let’s forget about the finals we dreamt about, because we will have time to say goodbye. And yes, the time has come to say goodbye, and this is how the road ends for me – unforgettable and marvellous, from beginning to end.
“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
It’s a sad end to a quite brilliant career for the authentic living legend of Basque football. It all promised to end so well with a cup final against their old rivals Real Sociedad, but that dream is now over.
The numbers from his career are quite incredible – 780 games and 285 goals, with more than 400 league games for Athletic Club alone. 177 of his goals came after the age of 30, as he signed off his career with his best spell yet back in Bilbao.