• Changes Zubizarreta's new life after his dismissal from Barça

  • Interview Iñaki Zubizarreta, victim of bullying in his childhood: "Believing that the only thing you can do to do yourself a favor is to commit suicide made me hit rock bottom"

The last professional years of an

elite athlete

usually convey a bittersweet sensation of

decline

, since what for many years had been excellence, ends up being translated into imperfection.

Andoni Zubizarreta,

who in his glorious years had the honor of being considered

the best Spanish soccer goalkeeper of

all time until Casillas arrived - heir to Iríbar and Arconada in Athletic and in the national team, great symbols of that uncertain idea, But for many years dogmatic, who argued that the best goalkeepers could only be Basques, ended his career in football in

a bitter way,

with the elimination of Spain in the first phase of

the 1998 World Cup.

because of that defeat against Nigeria, in which

he scored an involuntary goal

by cutting a cross badly.

Zubizarreta is aware that this play reappears in his life constantly, like a ghost - in football there is also a hauntological dimension, if you allow us to borrow the term from the thinker Mark Fisher, and that it would be very good for someone to study - but also he has argued that

his career cannot be measured by that mistake

right down the road. And it is that, saving the other really gloomy moment of his career as a goalkeeper -the four peas that AC Milan gave him in the final of the 1994 European Cup-, Zubizarreta

was a regular and outstanding professional

since he made his debut in the first division. with Athletic in 1981 and until he retired at the end of the World Cup, after having spent

eight seasons at Barça and four at Valencia.

In fact, what is remembered the most about Zubi is

how good people he is.

He responds to a profile of a classic footballer,

from the old school

-the archetype longed for by those who hate modern football and its grotesque parade of plucked eyebrows, tribal tattoos and little humanistic training-, of those who put a newspaper into the locker room before a package Celtas, an

educated

man

, chivalrous

on and off the field, one of those who

leave no enemies

along the way because he always

played fair,

did his job with Stakhanovist efficiency and amassed a

not inconsiderable record:

six leagues, three King's Cups, one European Cup, a Recopa ...

Since he was little he was already good at being a soccer goalkeeper, and given his conditions - he was a gigantic adolescent who reached

1.87 meters in height

- he quickly specialized in stopping goals, but in the meantime he took the opportunity to

study

. Zubi belongs to that line of footballers who, contrary to what the cliché suggests, know how to spin sentences, articulate speeches and shake neurons. Nor is it like

Miguel Pardeza

, who wrote a doctoral thesis on César González-Ruano, or like

Emilio Butragueño

, who is said to sometimes drop by the house of the poet Luis Alberto de Cuenca to make a bibliophile incursion, but if you ask him about his tastes, he will show

knowledge in classical cinema

- Sydney Pollack likes -, in

Central European literature

- he has read Heinrich Böll, which practically no one does anymore - and in

classical music.

Now it may seem impossible, but there was a time when footballers were closer to Brahms than Andy & Lucas.

The former goalkeeper, in an image from 1991.GTRES

When Zubizarreta hung up his gloves, his professional career remained close to football, and it has been until practically today. In 2001 he began to

work as Athletic Club's sports director,

and 10 years later he held

the same position at Barcelona,

commissioned by then-president Sandro Rosell. Given his ease and proximity to communication, he was also in charge of

serving the media

, and even today he continues to work as a

commentator

on television broadcasts. At present, his professional interests have derived more towards private initiative and

motivational talks,

although without ever forgetting sports: in 2015 he began to collaborate with

Agustí Gasol

-father of Pau and Marc Gasol- in Triada de Escuelas Deportivas Internacional, a company, now dissolved, that sought to

promote grassroots sport

among young people. Zubizarreta left his post because he received an offer to be

the sports director of Olympique de Marseille

from 2016, an extensive stage that ended in May 2020 without having achieved sporting success for the club.

Now that you are

turning 60, you

may already be thinking about a short-term retirement: you have been active for many years, you have earned your salary with dignity, your family is already formed,

your first grandson came to you recently,

and you are looking at each other for several years. good ones where you might want to indulge in those simple pleasures - Basque cuisine, a 19th century symphony, a John Ford movie - that make the days go by with sweetness and placidness. In the same way that his sports and professional careers have developed regularly,

stability and order also

surround Zubizarreta's personal life: he has been

married to the landscaper Anne Miren since 1986

He has two sons, Markel and Luken, and a daughter, Jone.

Markel, the oldest, currently works at Barça as a

women's football

manager

,

and has renewed his contract until 2024.

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