Cyprus Mail
Football Sport

Valverde ends long wait for silverware with Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao's players pose with the Spanish Super Cup trophy after defeating Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate

Athletic Bilbao’s Spanish Super Cup victory against Barcelona not only earned them their first major trophy in 31 years but also ended coach Ernesto Valverde’s long wait for silverware with the Basque club he represented as a player.

A 1-1 draw in Monday’s second leg at the Nou Camp secured a 5-1 aggregate success, ending a barren run for Bilbao since they won Spain’s traditional season opener in 1984.

Bilbao’s achievement is all the more remarkable considering they only field players of Basque origin and Valverde, who won one cap for Spain, could not contain his delight at his post-match news conference.

The 51-year-old, who joined the club as a player in 1990 after brief stints at Espanyol and Barca, also coached Bilbao between 2003 and 2005 before taking the helm at clubs including Espanyol, Villarreal, Valencia and Olympiakos Piraeus.

Nicknamed “the ant” for his busy playing style, he won several titles while in charge at the Greek club but Monday’s success was his first in Spain.

“Right now I feel an incredible joy for everything that this means,” Valverde told reporters.

“Finally we have won the title that all our fans deserve,” he added.

“This is something we have been chasing for a long time and many generations have come and gone since 1984.

“I never won anything with Bilbao as a player but we knew that at some point it had to happen.”

Barca coach Luis Enrique was gracious in defeat and said the Spanish and European champions were in good shape to begin their quest for a sixth La Liga title in eight years on Sunday when they play Bilbao again at the San Mames.

He refused to discuss the second-half dismissal of centre back Gerard Pique, who was shown a straight red card after striding up to the assistant referee and yelling in his face.

“In my opinion Bilbao played a great first leg and they are worthy champions,” Luis Enrique told a news conference.

“You have to know how to win and lose,” the former Barca and Spain midfielder added.

“It is good to lose sometimes to help you understand how hard and rewarding it is to win.”

Related Posts

Russian team reach Davis Cup final with 2-0 win over Germany

Reuters News Service

Masuaku’s late winner helps West Ham topple leaders Chelsea

Press Association

World’s oldest test player Ash dies at 110

Reuters News Service

Brundle: Hamilton not ready to hand over baton to Verstappen

Press Association

Leaders Chelsea face tricky test at West Ham

Reuters News Service

Bayern v Barca match to be held without fans

Reuters News Service