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Normally, your football team is related to where you are born. Then, as you grow up, you become a fan of the big clubs, but it is different in Biscay. Society has the name of Athletic Club running through the blood. Its special philosophy in which only players that come from its own ranks and those trained in Basque clubs can play makes this union even stronger, if possible, than in other towns in Spain.
Therefore, Athletic Club is considered to be more than a football club. It is a feeling of loyalty towards an institution that all the people from Biscay and many people from the rest of the Basque Country feel is part of them. In fact, the club is one of the four teams in Spain that is not a sporting limited company, so the ownership of the club lies with the members.
The red and white team (their colours) is considered to be one of the historic football clubs in Spain and it is the only one, along with Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, that has never been relegated from the top division. With more than 100 years of history, which makes it the oldest club in the first division and the second oldest in Spain, the club has won 8 League titles and 24 King’s Cup titles, which defines it as one of the clubs that has won the most titles on the football scene. It has also played in many finals. The last two, the King’s Cup and the Europe League, were in the 2011-2012 season.
Athletic’s philosophy of being a club from its own ranks has meant that players who have made history in national and international competition have come out of its facilities. Who doesn’t remember Pichichi, the name which is given to the highest scoring player in the whole of Spain, and the first great red and white goal scorer, or Zarra, who was the highest goal scorer in the history of competition until recently?
This great history could not have been possible without the loyal fans who accompany the team in all of their matches in national and continental competition. Whenever a match is played, most of the businesses in Biscay are adorned with red and white flags and the fans flood into the streets around San Mamés stadium to exchange opinions on the match, the team’s track record, to enjoy and, at times, to suffer with the “lions” (as the red and white players are known), in a peaceful and exemplary atmosphere.
The fans that accompany the team when playing away or the mass affluence to the cities when the club gets to a final is also immense.
San Mamés Barria
There is another aspect that further links the people of Biscay to Athletic Club: namely, San Mamés Stadium, which is known as “The Cathedral” of football. It is a newly built five-star stadium in which 53,000 people fill the stands each weekend to cheer on the players and loyally support them until the final whistle. Furthermore, it is no surprise that the rival team’s efforts are given an ovation when leaving the pitch. This is a symbol of the friendly and generous nature of the people of Biscay and which the club tries to establish in the players of lower categories.