Announcing his retirement a couple of weeks ago, Aritz Aduriz called it a day on a very interesting career, spent mostly at Athletic Bilbao.
We say ‘very interesting’, as the now 39-year-old only fully blossomed into a proper goalscorer during the latter stages of his career, really bursting onto the scene after he turned 30.
One of the reasons why he was able to do that was because of a certain manager who now oversees things at Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa.
The Argentine, who moved to Elland Road back in July 2018, was in charge of the Bilbao club for two years between 2011 and 2013.
In that time, he managed to take them to the final of the Europa League, seeing off the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the process, as well as getting many of their players to reach new levels in their career, like Aduriz.
Speaking to So Foot in France following his retirement, the veteran said: “[Bielsa] is the manager who probably taught me the most. With him, I progressed a lot, but I also suffered enormously. He’s so demanding, so extreme, that he manages to bring stuff out of you you didn’t even think was there. He definitely helped me go up a level. Thanks to him, I became a different player”.
As for whether or not El Loco, the Leeds manager’s nickname around the world, really is, well, ‘loco’, he said: “Bielsa isn’t crazy, he’s a football genius. The problem is that his hardline approach, pushed to the extreme, cannot be kept up forever. At one point, it becomes unsustainable”.
As well as spending a large chunk of his career at Athletic Bilbao, Aduriz, who scored 172 goals in 405 appearances for the La Liga club, spent time at Real Valladolid, RCD Mallorca and Valencia.
While he did feel the urge to try his hand abroad at one point, he explained he felt ‘very good’ at Bilbao and ‘to be where you’re happy is the most important thing’.