Ernesto Valverde: “They were all pushing Iñaki's plane to arrive”


The Athletic Club coach, Ernesto Valverde, confessed that he knew that the return of Iñaki Williams would be an important asset and ended up being “decisive” in the victory (4-2) over FC Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

“It was a game to remember. We started very well, but that goal took us a little out of the game, the tie, and then they scored the second, but we finished with a good feeling. In the second half we risked a lot, we achieved the tie, situations to win. They gave us a couple of scares. In extra time it seemed like it was written that Iñaki was going to score today,” he said at a press conference.

The Basques coach referred to the lightning trip from the Ivory Coast to Bilbao so that the Ghana international could be in San Mamés this Wednesday. “I imagined it was fine. I asked if I was going to arrive or not, I was clear that I was not going to start from the beginning but I knew that it was going to be a morale boost for the group, and for the public as well. It was an asset that was going to play. He had to calm down a little and then it was decisive,” he said.

“He is a player who, apart from being reliable when it comes to training, has a joy that is contagious. He is always laughing, he transmits a lot and also to the public. He has participated in so many games in a row. I knew that Iñaki's arrival was going to mean a lot and for the public too. The flight has been one of the most followed, I think everyone was pushing the plane to arrive,” he added.

On the other hand, Valverde highlighted Athletic's relationship with the Cup, with the Basque team in its fifth consecutive semi-final. “It is a significant fact of the importance that we give to the competition, of the excitement that it gives us. It has to drive us. We wanted to put everything into it. We have believed, we have wanted and we have had a prize,” he stated.

“In football many times you have to lose and then when you look back, you have a few games left, and this will be one of them that we will always remember. People live for these moments. I thought I would have less trouble, but it is inevitable against Barça “Anyone can score against you. We had our strength in San Mamés, we have to run and run a lot. This year we are winning more but we still have a lot left, we want to play better,” he concluded.