That 1984 Cup: “The fact that 40 years have passed shows that things are not easy at all” | Soccer | Sports


Maradona fights for the ball with Athletic defenders, Núñez and De Andrés, in the 1984 Copa del Rey final.

Javier Clemente, the Athletic coach who won the last Copa del Rey, constantly repeats it: “I’m fed up with being reminded that I was the last one to win it. I want that title to be taken away from me. “I want the kids who haven’t seen it to know what it means to win a big title like the Cup.” Adding to that blunt statement from the coach are those who were his faithful pupils, those who from the pitch withstood the attacks of Maradona and Schuster’s Barcelona, ​​and after Endika’s goal they lifted the trophy and achieved a historic treble, with the League and the Super Cup also in the same season. “Maradona and Schuster were at that time the two best footballers in the world,” warns Andoni Goikoetxea, to put the match in perspective.

“After winning the League we had a couple of days of celebrations there in Bilbao,” remembers Andoni Zubizarreta, “and there was a moment when Javi Clemente asked us if we wanted to do a double, which is a treasure and a unique opportunity, or “if we wanted to continue celebrating.” The same version, but from the other point of view, is what the former coach offers about that dilemma. “After winning the second League there were many celebrations,” Clemente remembers. “We spent three days of partying and, on the fourth, I came to the locker room and told them to see if they wanted to continue having fun or prepare well and try to beat Barça.” There was unanimity in the locker room and the players said that they did want to, so, “I thought about a lineup to have a high physical level. Neither Sarabia nor Gallego played as starters. I put people like Patxi Salinas or Endika, who had not had as many minutes that year, to last the 90 minutes well.” Zubizarreta reaffirms the words of his coach. “We were very used to Clemente proposing the team for the game that had to be played, he did not have a starting team.” And he extends: “Surely because of that individual quality that Barça presented, they fielded players who could give us, from their point of view, an intensity in the game, a pace of play, and that it could also be interesting to make the field shorter” . For Clemente, “if you took away Dani and a few others, the veterans were only a few years old, it was the youngest squad in Spain by far. Physically, it was a very good team and technically too, although many do not want to see it.” Furthermore, “they played at a speed that others did not play at; “Physically they were like airplanes.”

Athletic’s season had been exhausting. The League began a few weeks after the terrible floods in Bilbao that forced the team to play several games away from home. Also, the European Cup, and the journey through the Cup. “It wasn’t easy,” says Zubi. “We reached the final playing against good teams. “It was a football in which there was not such a big difference between the teams,” he says. “You had Madrid and Barça, who have always been up there, but in the middle zone there were teams in which anyone beat anyone.” And he gives examples: “Sporting could beat you, or Real, obviously, or Valencia. “There were always teams that had that capacity.” The semi-final was against Real Madrid. Athletic won at the Bernabéu (0-1), and in the second leg, the whites responded in kind. The match, refereed by Enríquez Negreira, went to penalties. “I stopped one for Camacho,” Zubizarreta boasts. “It was a very complicated Cup,” recalls Javier Clemente. “We didn’t even have an easy opponent. We beat Real on penalties in the round of 16, we beat Sporting in the quarterfinals and, then, against Madrid on penalties.” The coach remembers it vividly. “It was a really tough end to the season. Above all, the extra time against Madrid seemed eternal.”

A few days later, in the middle of Holy Week, with 30,000 Bilbao residents in Mestalla, Athletic beat Valencia and was just one step away from winning the League. He did it in San Mamés against Real. There was one week left to play the final, with the celebrations in between. And the controversies. With Maradona, with Schuster, who had said that playing in Bilbao was like playing in Korea. With Menotti, who despised the red and white game.

So, shortly before stepping onto the pitch, with the players tense with responsibility, the ingenuity of the masseuse, Natxo Biritxinaga, appeared, the third in a saga that his father started and his uncle continued. “He dressed up as Eva Nasarre in the locker room to relax and think about something else,” says Dani Ruiz-Bazán. The others remember the general laughter that relaxed the atmosphere. Dressed in tights and a tutu, in the style of the popular television presenter of the time, he achieved his goal.

But it wasn’t easy. “It was a very complicated final,” remembers Andoni Goikoetxea. “We scored in the first half, and the whole team defended wonderfully afterwards.” Furthermore, “we went out on the counterattack several times and we had some opportunities to score the second.” Then came the unfortunate incidents at the end of the game. “There were two regrettable actions, that of Maradona to Sola, who was on the ground and kneed him in the face; and then there was Clos’s on Patxi Salinas’ back.” According to Andoni Goikoetxea’s version, “the one who caused it all was Maradona, hitting Sola and breaking his face,” and he elaborates on his reasoning: “I always say, when things like this happen, who causes it, the one who wins or the one who misses? “All we wanted was to celebrate.”

Then, the Barge. “A demonstration of the people. Everyone took to the streets from Portugalete to Bilbao on both banks of the estuary. They are moments that are never forgotten.” Dani didn’t want to give up the Cup. “I didn’t let go of it. My colleagues told me that it was stuck with Loctite.” It was Athletic’s last Cup. “The fact that 40 years have passed shows that things are not easy at all,” says Goiko. “We suffer it. “It was a supportive team, with quality, but they achieved it with effort, without which nothing is achieved.”

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