In the final of the Cup, then the Generalissimo, in 1966, Athletic appeared with an unprecedented defense. All the starters were injured, a big problem against Zaragoza of the Magnificent Five. What had to happen happened and the hands won (0-2), but that day Iribar was consecrated. During the match, the Bilbao fans imitated the young men of Pamplona who, in Sanfermines, sang to the bullfighter Santiago Martín that of: “The Viti, the Viti is great, as the Viti there is none”, and they awarded it to the Txopo , who despite the defeat, left the field on the shoulders of the fans. The best goalkeeper in the history of Athletic says that there he knew the dimension of the club.
The goal, after Iribar, has always been the most guarded position from the San Mamés stands. Even with Andoni Zubizarreta they twisted their noses in the stands. He had to star in a memorable performance in front of the English team, in the tribute to Txetxu Rojo, to receive the placet. Now the fans examine Unai Simón. After a great previous season, and despite his six consecutive caps, an irregular campaign has put him in quarantine. Against Real, in the final two weeks ago, he had no chance to claim; A few days later, at Anoeta in the League, he made a childhood mistake that deprived Athletic of a victory that would have been restorative.
Again in La Cartuja, against Barça, he was expected on the front line. Faced with an avant-garde as sharp as the one led by Leo Messi, his performance could be decisive. However, in the first half he hardly had to appear, although he took several scares, the first of them capital, with the arrival of De Jong, who fired across the post. Simon had the fortune that the ball fell at his feet and could clear it. He didn’t have many more chances to come into contact with the ball, despite Barcelona’s overwhelming dominance.
It was in the second half when Unai Simón appeared, like the 1966 Iribar, with Luis Enrique, the coach, in the stands. In the 47th minute he began to grow between the sticks, after a play by Dest, on the right. The Barça footballer saw the entry of Antoine Griezmann through the center and put the ball to the millimeter. Unai Simón, in a reflex action, with the Frenchman two meters away, opened his arms and legs so that the ball crashed into his body, hit the Barcelona player again and went out. Koeman’s team was in gale mode, with Athletic in their area and with very little possession of the ball. Just three minutes later, Pedri received the edge of the area and his dry shot, hitting the post, was taken to a corner by the Alava goalkeeper.
Catatonic, Athletic, disconnected from the game, on the psychologist’s couch where Real Sociedad knocked him down, continued to hit Barcelona on both sides. Marcelino had decided to change the bands to reinforce his defensive system, but the experiment went wrong and the ends of the field were a drain. Just a minute after Griezmann’s shot, Simón again found a rival, this time Busquets, a couple of meters from his position. The Barça midfielder finished at point-blank range and the Athletic goalkeeper miraculously returned the shot that the goal was looking for.
Shortly thereafter, the levee overflowed. The next arrival no longer found the response of the rojiblanco goalkeeper. Griezmann opened the can, this time only one meter from the rojiblanco goalkeeper; then came the other goals in the goal of Unai Simón, who tried to be the Iribar that faced the Magnificent Five and ended up defeated like Txopo, with Luis Enrique in the stands, and in La Cartuja, where he can play with Spain the next Eurocup.