Unai Simon: Life, Clubs, Career and Stats

Unai Simon: Life, Clubs, Career and Stats

Unai Simon Mendibil, commonly known as Unai Simon is currently one of the emerging goalkeepers in the footballing world. The young Spaniard currently plays between the sticks for one of the oldest clubs in Spain, Athletic Club. The talented goalkeeper is only 26 years old and he also represents the Spain national team.

Born in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the heart of Bilbao, Unai was always attracted to the game of football from a young age and joined the youth setup of Athletic Bilbao at the young age of 11.  Today, he is considered one of the biggest emerging talents in goal. Let us take a look at his bio. 

Unai Simon Bio: 

  • Full Name: Unai Simon Mendibil
  • Date of Birth: 11 June, 1997
  • Place of Birth: Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain
  • Professional Debut: 2014
  • Jersey Number: 1
  • Position: Goalkeeper

Unai Simon: Early Years

Simon was born in the heart of Basque country and always dreamt of representing the colors of Athletic Bilbao from a young age. His father was a member of the civil guard and his mother was a policewoman who always supported their son’s dream. When Unai finally decided to join the youth system of Athletic Bilbao, he lodged with a family in Bilbao who were kind enough to ensure the budding keeper was taken care of. 

Athletic Bilbao Academy (2011-2014)

The young Unai Simon quickly adapted to the footballing philosophy of Bilbao’s academy and started emulating his competitors in goal. His multi-faceted abilities made him a favorite at the academy and soon he was called up to Bilbao’s farm team, CD Basconia, to make his senior debut in the Tercera division of the Spanish footballing pyramid. 

CD Basconia (2014-16)

At Basconia, Unai spent a lot of time on the bench, embracing the brutal play in the lower divisions of Spanish football. Whenever the youngster got a chance to play, he would perform well, making Athletic Bilbao eventually consider the player for their ‘B’ side ahead of the 2016-17 campaign. He eventually made only 36 appearances for Basconia in the lower division before being called up to Athletic Bilbao ‘B’

Athletic Bilbao ‘B’ (2016-18)

Unai Simon
A young Unai Simon (Getty Images)

Unai’s arrival at the camp of Bilbao’s ‘B’ side laid the foundation for the Basque club’s future. A few injuries quickly saw his importance rise in the side and the young Spaniard made an impressive 29 appearances in his first campaign with Bilbao ‘B’. His displays with the B side impressed Jose Ziganda, the then coach of Athletic  Bilbao, who eventually called up Simon for the pre-season of the 2017-18 season.  While Simon returned to the ‘B’ side without getting too many chances, he went on to become a permanent member of the Athletic Bilbao set up a year later in 2018. 

Athletic Bilbao (2018-) 

Bilbao’s superman in goal (2018-19)

In 2018, when Simon extended his contract with the club till 2023, the club planned to ease him into the role of first choice goalkeeper by sending him on loan to Elche first. However, despite signing the contract with Elche for a loan, the youngster was quickly called back to the Bilbao camp ahead of the season with Iago Herrerin injuring himself. The departure of Kepa to Chelsea in a groundbreaking deal didn’t help either as Simon was suddenly at the forefront. 

Many doubted Unai’s capability going forward as the youngster hadn’t played even a single game in the first division of the Spanish footballing pyramid, LaLiga. However, he quickly silenced critics by dropping an absolutely stunning performance against Real Madrid in only his third game in the first division. The game saw Simon make astonishing saves to deny the most decorated team in Spain and even earned him a man of the match.

His performances kept improving, yet with the return of Herrerin, Simon was demoted back to the bench. 

Taking over Bilbao’s goal (2019-)

Simon’s patience and excellent performances in the previous season bore fruit however, as he was handed the #1 jersey going in the 19-20 season and was also made the first-choice goalkeeper. He repaid the club’s faith in him right from the inception of the campaign as he was stunning in Bilbao’s opening matchday victory against FC Barcelona. He continued in great form for most of the season and eventually finished third in the Zamora trophy rankings that campaign. For Bilbao fans, Simon was perfect that season apart from his red card on Matchday 37 in La Liga, leaving Bilbao vulnerable. 

Unai Simon
Unai Simon in goal for Spain (Getty Images)

Ahead of the 20-21 season, Bilbao offered Unai an improved contract which he graciously signed, binding him to the club till 2025. The 2020-21 season, Unai was absolutely fantastic, earning him a call-up for Spain as well. For Bilbao, Unai made several crucial saves, with his heroics in the penalty shootouts against Betis in the Copa del Rey. 

Over the last few seasons, Unai has grown even further making him one of the best keepers in world football. His excellent leadership at the back and crucial saves have helped Bilbao secure their first Copa del Rey this campaign after a long long wait. In the league, Simon has been impressive as well and is currently leading the Zamora leaders list this season. 

Career and Stats: 

For Club:

ClubSeasonAppearancesGoals
CD Basconia2014-15140
CD Basconia2015-16220
Athletic ‘B’2016-17290
Athletic ‘B’2017-18290
2018-19340
Athletic Bilbao2019-20460
2020-21370
2021-22
2022-23
2023-24
34
31
31
0
0
0
Total1740

For Spain:

National TeamYearAppearancesGoals
202030
2021170
2022110
Spain202370
202410
Total390

Behind the Glitz and Glamour: Unai Simon’s Personal Life

Not much is known about Unai Simon’s personal life as the youngster has kept his personal life behind curtains for most of his career. His father was part of the Spanish Civil Guard and his mother is a policewoman. His parents took care of the youngster and he has expressed his desire to give them life’s comfort for the future. 

Unai Simon Net Worth: 

As of 2024, Unai Simon’s net worth is considered to be around $2.05 million. The Spaniard recently signed on to do endorsements for Adidas and Reusch Gloves. 

FAQs:

Q) Is Unai Simon better than David de Gea?

–    While Unai Simon has emulated David de Gea, to become number 1 for Spain, he hasn’t overtaken the ex-Man United keeper’s legacy in goal yet. Both goalkeepers belong to a different era and have been impressive in their own ways.

Q) How old is Unai Simon? 

–   Unai Simon is 26-years old.

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