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16.10.2008 08:19

Etxeberría: “Guardiola will be a great coach”

Miriam Nadal

Joseba Etxeberria has been impressed by Josep Guardiola’s start as coach of FC Barcelona and praised the team’s style of play this term.

The Athletic Club de Bilbao captain is in his fourteenth season in la Primera and is second only to Iribar in being the Basque Country club’s record appearance holder. Etxeberria knows Guardiola well as a person and a team-mate. “I played with him for Spain and he was marvellous to watch,” the Athletic forward explained. “He was capable of moving the whole team forward and had great vision too.

For me, he was one of the best players ever in his position and that has helped him as a coach. Above all, his experience at the highest level of the game along with his in-depth knowledge about the philosophy of Barça and the youth set-up has helped. He is going to be a great trainer. Guardiola is already on the right path for making Barça produce their best again and his ideas are seeing the team create so many chances.”

Difficult start

151008._Bilbao._Entrevistes3.jpgBeing los Leones’ skipper means that Etxeberria is very well places to judge the team’s strengths and weaknesses and he admits that the start to the season has not been easy. “We have not made the best opening,” he said. “We have had games where we have played well but we have not taken any points from them. We have not started properly. We only have five points, but we want to put a run together and push up the table.”

Looking at ways of stopping Barça, Etxeberria explained how his side would go about it. “We have a good combination of experience and young players,” he continued. “This mixture can make us successful. We have some very important players, like Amorebieta and Iraola, but we have a good team all round and I think results will come soon. I am optimistic.”

Symbolic gesture

In the last few weeks, Etxeberria has announced that he will play for Athletic for free during the 2009/2010 season. This season my contract finishes and I talked to the president and we both agreed that we wanted me to play for 15 seasons at the club and that out of gratitude I offered to play the last one without being paid,” he stated.
Etxeberría: “Guardiola will be a great coach”
Scoring against Barça
Etxeberria is rightly proud of his career with Athletic, but admits that there is something missing from his games against the Blaugrana. To play against Barcelona is always special because they are a huge team,” he said. “It is the same whether it be in San Mamés or Camp Nou. It really motivates everyone to play against them because they are one of the best sides in Europe. Personally, I want to score against them because they are the only team in la Primera I have never scored against.”
On Wednesday, Etxeberria trained with the rest of the Athletic team after suffering a knock in the game against Recreativo de Huelva. “I have had a couple of days rest and now I am fine,” he added.

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