Daniel Ruiz Bazán (Sopuerta, Bizkaia, 69 years old), was the last Athletic captain to lift a Copa del Rey. He did it in 1984, against Barcelona of Maradona and Schuster, a week after winning the League. Now he hopes that, so many years later, there will be a generation that will take over and it is Iker Muniain who goes up to receive the trophy.
Question. Although the atmosphere in Bilbao is somewhat pessimistic …
Answer. I like this environment better than last time. The spirit of an athlete always has to be to face a difficult battle. Against the Real there was a party atmosphere, of “this is sucked”, and perhaps the players were infected. Now they know that it will be very complicated and that they cannot be trusted, because Barcelona is superior to Real.
P. The footballers are blamed for not competing.
R. People come up to me and tell me that they didn’t throw him what had to be thrown, but they did throw him out. A final is a very special 90-minute fight that you have to know how to digest. Anything can happen: mistakes, arbitration decisions, various factors. And it turned out that the team was not what it had to be. We did expect a more powerful reaction when they were behind, but football was flat and that is what disappointed the fans. These are things that happen, but it cannot be said that they did not give everything.
P. You, in 1984, did not have a psychologist, but you did have Natxo Biritxinaga, the masseur, who knew how to motivate you.
R. I don’t know how they get motivated now, I’m not inside, but Natxo was a special man, who in that final, in which we were tense before leaving, disguised himself as Eva Nasarre, with her leggings, with a wig and painted face, and From the laughs we did, the atmosphere relaxed us.
P. And Javier Clemente?
R. Javi was a coach who worked very well for us on the psychological aspect. It is very important to have a winning mentality.
P. What was the formula of that champion team? They said they played kick.
R. What about the kick is said by those who do not understand football. Each one must play what he knows, and we knew how to play what we should. Kick, nothing at all. Those long passes that Goikoetxea gave from the area with his left foot and I brought them down with my chest, they weren’t kicks. We rehearsed them day after day. Goiko had an excellent touch and I put them where I wanted. Is that kick? It is very nice to play it from behind, but from there to effectiveness it goes a world.
P. Does not like?
R. To be able to play it like Guardiola’s Barça, it is necessary to have decisive players as it had. If not, it is of no use. As it is not about hitting where it falls. We didn’t have superfigures, but certainly not bootwrinkles either. That they were Sarabia, Argote, two artists, or Goiko. Two leagues are not won by luck.
P. What differences do you perceive between football then and now?
R. Now I watch a game and they can be a whole part without shooting at the door. I don’t remember any game of mine without shooting five or six times. In our times, the public had fun, football has changed.
P. What do you remember about that 1984 final against Barcelona?
R. I have flashes, not many things. Especially the atmosphere, the stands full of Athletic supporters, cheering from the beginning to the end. That is why I see that we are now playing two finals, and the fans cannot be there and it saddens me. Something unique and that the field is empty, that the players do not feel that pride of having people nearby, of seeing the stands and getting excited to think that they have traveled to follow you.