Unai Simón and the dream of taking over from ‘Txopo’


The Athletic Club goalkeeper and Spanish international Unai Simón is having his best season in terms of numbers since he debuted in the red and white first team in the 2018-19 season, being the goalkeeper who is at the top of the classification in the fight for the ‘Zamora Trophy’, an individual award that has not been won by an Athletic Club player since José Ángel Iribar achieved it in 1970.

Athletic Club’s season is taking on historic overtones. Finalists in the Copa del Rey and fourth in LaLiga EA Sports with nine games left, the ‘lions’ are, with the permission of Girona FC, the revelation team of the football season in Spain. A good performance at a collective level that means that in order to find parallels with any precedent in the history of the red and white team, we have to go back more than five decades.

A campaign in which Unai Simón is shining on an individual level. The national team’s starting goalkeeper is, at 26 years old, living the best moment of his career, and leads the Zamora Trophy classification. So far, the player from Vitoria, who has played every minute of the League so far, has conceded 26 goals, which places him at the top of the table with a coefficient of 0.9.

His greatest rival seems to be the German Marc-André Ter Stegen, whom he leads by just one point, and who could not miss another match between now and the end of the season if he wants to qualify for the prize, since he must play a minimum of 28 games.

If he ends up winning the trophy that distinguishes the goalkeeper with the fewest goals scored in LaLiga EA Sports, Unai Simón would return to the San Mamés showcases an individual award that he has not won since the 1969-70 season, when José Ángel Iribar won his only Zamora Trophy.

In addition to the legendary ‘Txopo’, five more goalkeepers from the Biscayan club have won the most important award for a goalkeeper in the First Division: Gregorio Blasco (3), José María Echevarría (1) and Reimundo Pérez Lezama (1). To see the last Basque goalkeeper to win the trophy you have to go back to 1989 with José Manuel Ochotorena, with Valencia, while the last Spaniard was Víctor Valdés, with FC Barcelona in 2012, when he added the fourth consecutive of the five he conquered

According to ‘Driblab’, Unai Simón’s data throughout this season are on par with the best goalkeepers in Europe. The Athletic Club goalkeeper has a save percentage of over 75%, being the sixth best goalkeeper in LaLiga EA Sports in this regard. Furthermore, of these stops, 14.7% do not give the opponent the option of rejection, being the second best in this aspect in the First Division.

Finally, one of the figures that places Athletic Club’s starting goalkeeper in the elite of European football is the number of games he has kept a clean sheet this season. Unai Simón has achieved this in 15 of the 29 games he has played, being second in this particular classification table among goalkeepers in the five major leagues, only surpassed by the 17 clean sheets of the Swiss Yann Sommer (Inter).