From Valverde to Pena: Former Bilbao forward Guarrotxena eyes ISL success with FC Goa

Iker Guarrotxena becomes the fourth player from Spain in the current FC Goa squad, alongside Alvaro Vazquez, Marc Valiente and captain Edu Bedia.

FILE PHOTO: Iker Guarrotxena

FILE PHOTO: Iker Guarrotxena | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Iker Guarrotxena becomes the fourth player from Spain in the current FC Goa squad, alongside Alvaro Vazquez, Marc Valiente and captain Edu Bedia.

FC Goa has been one of the most active teams in the transfer market before the upcoming season of the Indian Super League.

The first club from ISL to play in the AFC Champions League, FC Goa had a forgettable season last year, finishing third from bottom with 19 points from 20 matches.

For the upcoming season, the Gaurs have added a number of target men in their arsenal, including two Spaniards — the latest being a former Athletic Bilbao youth academy product, Iker Guarrotxena.

“We will try to play beautiful football,” the 32-year-old told the press in his first interaction since joining.

“We have to push hard and I think this was one of the points of motivation I had to decide on this option. So I have to say a big thank you to the coach because he's explained to me the way the team wants to play.

“He has explained to me how he saw me in the team,” he added.

Iker comes from a family of football heritage, with his father and uncle, both being former professional footballers. His uncle Endika Guarrotxena had helped Athletic Bilbao win the Copa del Rey in 1984 and was an active part of the squad that played the final the next year as well.

“I didn't have this influence like hard pushing to be a professional player, neither from my uncle nor from my father, given that both of them have played in the league as a professional,” he said.

“They did well on the things that they loved and it makes me try to achieve the same but in my own way.”

Iker becomes the fourth player from Spain in the current squad, alongside Alvaro Vazquez, Marc Valiente and captain Edu Bedia.

“I have come here to help the team and all of us will help in the same direction to achieve titles and trophies,” he said.

Born and raised in the Basque country, Iker signed his first senior professional contract under former Barcelona manager Federico Valverde and spent most of his football career in Bilbao, sharing the dressing room with club legend Aduriz.

“We kind of spoke everything to him directly. You didn't need intermediaries to speak with him, he's a normal person and that, sometimes, is the best.”

At Goa, however, the forward will find it tough to make it to the starting eleven regularly with the restriction to play a maximum of four foreigners at one time.

“We have to achieve big things as a team, not just as individuals,” he said.

“So, we are here to help the team and to help the coach at the club. I think all players during ISL will have their own space and time, so I think my only goal at this moment is to train hard to get ready for the start of the season.”

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