Athletic Club

Athletic Club: Players, History, Records and Future Goals

Founded in 1903, Athletic Club is one of the biggest clubs in Spain and is famous for its decades-long history in the country. The club is reminiscent of the mixed footballing culture of Britain and Spain, which is one of the many reasons behind their name “Athletic” instead of the popular Spanish name “Atletico.” Among the top clubs in the country today, Bilbao is arguably the most influential city, having possessed a dominant history in the early years of football in Spain. 

The Basque club, adorned in white and red stripes, is popularly known as Los Leones (The Lions) in the neighborhood. The fourth most successful outfit in Spain, Athletic Bilbao, boasts a beautiful stadium named Estadio San Mames, which was built in 1913. Their history goes deeper than the written story about the club, and in this article, we will talk about the rich history, success, and journey of the Bilbao-based team. 

Origin of Athletic Club

Athletic Club or Athletic Bilbao is one of the dark horses in football that has managed to influence the course of football in Spain. Based in the Basque province of the nation, the club embodies the values of Spanish ethnic Christian culture. The professional team came into existence due to the popularity of football and the growing influence of Football-loving Britishers in Spain. The Basque outfit is the United front of two different small football clubs built by two different groups – Spanish students from British universities and English workers from the local shipyard in 1898, which later merged together to create the heartbeat of the city of Bilbao, Athletic Club, in 1903. 

Since its inception, Athletic Bilbao has been a brute force in Spanish football history. It is one of only three clubs in Spain alongside Barcelona and Real Madrid that have never been relegated from La Liga. Under the guidance of legendary English manager Mr Shepard, Athletic Club won two back-to-back Copa del Rey titles in 1903 and 1904, announcing their arrival in the country. Players such as Jose Iribar, Telmo Zarra, Agustin Gainza, Iker Muniain, and Raul Garcia are legendary figures in the club’s journey, contributing to its success throughout the years.

Also read: Real Madrid: Players, History, Records, Achievements, and Future Goals

History of Athletic Club

There is a rich footballing and cultural history associated with Athletic Club de Bilbao, a team which represents the whole Basque region in Spain. Founded by the English and Spanish people, the club was initially known as “Club Bizcaya”, with its sole agenda being to conquer the most prestigious tournament in Spain, Copa del Rey. Later, those associated with the club decided to change its name to Athletic Club in 1902. The Spanish club’s first official crest was a blue circle surrounded by a belt with the letters C and A in white. However, it was changed to a newly formed crest in 1922 which depicted the symbols of the club and the City on a shield. 

San Mames Stadium, Athletic Club’s home ground (Credit: Twitter)

Following the construction of its stadium, Estadio San Mames, named by a local Church in the region, the club set its sights on big accolades in football and won their first La Liga titles in 1930, led by the great English coach Fred Pentland. They continued their dominance in Spain and clinched two more Spanish top-tier trophies in 1934 and 1936.

Despite interruptions from General Franco, which led the club to change its name to Atletico Bilbao for a substantial period, the club stood its ground and kept delivering for its followers. The Basque outfit has enjoyed a tremendous run in Spain, having collected eight La Liga titles and 24 Copa del Rey trophies. The biggest victories in both La Liga and Copa del Rey belong to the Lions where they beat Barca 12-1 (1930-31) in Spanish league and Celta de Vigo 12-1 (1947) in Spanish Cup.

Athletic Club’s Top Players

The Basque region in Spain has been producing some serious talents in the game, and Athletic Club is no different in this regard. With the help of great stars, the Spanish outfit used to savor success in the country.

Current top players – Athletic Bilbao provides the most number of players after Barcelona and Real Madrid for the international duty of the Spanish football team, indicating the squad depth of the club. Players like Inaki Williams, Unia Simon, Ander Herrera and Iker Muniain are the jewels of the Spanish side’s crown. 
Past top players – Since its inception, Athletic Club has done some serious business in nurturing young local talents and turned them into legends in Spain. From 1930 to 1980, they dominated the footballing world of the nation through their spectacular performance. The meticulous rise of the Basque club was mostly dependent on the likes of Rafael Moreno, Ricardo Zamora, Telmo Zarra, Jose Iribar and many prominent players. Zarra is the top goalscorer (336), while Iribar played the most number of games (614) in the history of Athletic Bilbao.

Athletic Club’s Current Squad (2023-2024)

Athletic Club 2023-24 squad (Credit: Getty)
GoalkeepersDefenders  Midfielders  Forwards
Unai SimonDani VivianMikel VesgaNico Williams 
AgirrezabalaAitor ParedesBenat PradosInaki Williams
 Yeray AlvarezInigo RuizAlex Berenguer
 Inigo LekueAnder Herrera Raul Garcia 
 Yuri BerchicheDani GarciaGorka Guruzeta
 Imanol GarciaMikel ZauregizarAdu Ares
 Oscar de MarcosUnai GomezAsier Villalibre
EgiluzIker Muniain 
Present ManagerErnesto Valverde (Since 2022)

La Liga Standings

CompetitionNo. of TitlesSeasons

La Liga

1929–30, 1930–31,1933–34, 1935–36, 1942–43, 1955–56, 1982–83, 1983–84

Future Goals

The most important goal of Athletic Club must be to achieve success in La Liga as early as possible. The most dominant outfit at the early stages of the Spanish league last won the tournament forty years ago, depicting how poorly they have performed in La Liga lately. Additionally, they would also aim to feature in the high-voltage European tournaments.


Q1: What are Athletic Club fans called? 

The fans of Athletic Club are popularly known as “the Lions,” which is also the nickname of the Spanish giants. As the club’s stadium was built near a Church named “San Mames”, they got this nickname.

Q2: Who are Athletic Club’s biggest rivals?

The biggest rival of the Spanish club is Real Sociedad as both teams are from the same region. The matches between these two clubs are generally called “Basque derby.”

Q3: How many trophies has Athletic Club won?

The Basque club has won 35 major trophies including 8 La Liga and 24 Copa del Rey titles. Their latest major achievement was the victory in the 2023-24 Copa del Rey tournament.

Also read: FC Barcelona: Players, History, Records, Achievements, and Future Goals

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