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A Truly Remarkable Gesture: Etxeberria Signs To Play For Free

In a time when money comes first, Athletico Bilbao’s Joseba Etxeberria has agreed to play out his final season for the club for free. The 31-year-old singed a one-year contract extension that will see him finish his career with the Los Cachorros...

In a time when money comes first, Athletico Bilbao’s Joseba Etxeberria has agreed to play out his final season for the club for free. The 31-year-old singed a one-year contract extension that will see him finish his career with the Los Cachorros.

Etxeberria joined the club at age 17 and has played for the club ever since. He is famed for his dribbling, pace and fierce shot, but will now be famed for much more than his skills on the football pitch.

While so many other footballers hold out on signing new contracts until they can force the club to pay the highest wages possible, Etxeberria has agreed to play for free.

Frank Lampard, Emmanuel Adebayor, Rio Ferdinand and many others need to take note! So many modern day footballers seem to only be concerned about making money, as I explained in my recently published article.

Yet Etxeberria, known as El Gallo (The Rooster) to Athletico Bilbao fans for his long neck, has shown the ultimate gesture to his club. The Athletico captain has been a major figure at the club since joining as a teenager and wants to thank his club for everything by playing his final season for free.

Etxeberria’s sacrifice to the club has not gone unnoticed and club president Fernando Garcia Macau was quick to praise the former Spanish international.

"From the club's standpoint, there are not words enough to thank such a gesture,” Macau said.

The Athletico Bilbao captain led the 1995 World Youth Championships in scoring and earned 53 caps for the Spanish National Team, scoring 12 goals and playing a part in the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2000 and Euro 2004.

Etxeberria admits he has always wanted to end his career at Athletico Bilbao, but claims he is not trying to set an example by agreeing to play out his final season for free.

"I wanted to do this gesture but never did I want to set a precedent."

Whether or not Etxeberria wanted to make an example out of his honorable decision, it is something every footballer should learn form.

Here’s to Joseba Etxeberria, who has shown that football is not all about money!

Cheers, Joseba…
 

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A great player, I knew him first in the 05-06 season, scoring in the last minutes at Bernabeu when they defeated Real Madrid 2-1, I liked him since then
 

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He's always been like the Dirk Kuijt of Spain for me. Technically not the prettiest to watch but a good guy at the end of the day

but 32....that's an early age to retire at though. Can't he stay longer at Bilbao?
 

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I'd like to know how much he earned before he did this. Im not trying to detract, or maybe I am, but still if he's lucky enough to earn a nice amount each week...

I like him as a player though :)
 

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I'd like to know how much he earned before he did this. Im not trying to detract, or maybe I am, but still if he's lucky enough to earn a nice amount each week...

I like him as a player though :)
that's not the point. Of course if he was broke he wouldn't do it, but it is a nice egsture. Can you imagine a greedy cunt like David Beckham every doing something like this?
 

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Etxeberria, a legend. how do you pronounce his name?
As it would be written Echeberria in Spanish. It means "New house" in Basque and is equivalent to Italian surname Casanova, and in a way equivalent to English Newman. As an interesting bit, practically all European surnames refer to a person (Newman, Smith), while all Basque surnames refer to the house (new-house, smith's-house/smithy).
 

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32 is an early age to retire, but he stated he wants to give more chances to the youth and the young players within the club.

I dont think this sort of gesture will easily appear at other clubs. Atletico Bilbao is one of those special clubs where players often see the club as more than an employer. That is the upside of their Basque-only policy I guess, a lot of their players grew up with the club and see it as an honour to play for them rather than seeing them as purely their employer. I doubt at other clubs you would see this sort of thing. I never liked the club, but you gotta respect this gesture in an era when money rules the sport.
 

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Louis Saha offered to forego his Everton salary if he was injured. Everton refused, but it's still nice to see that not all honour has gone from the game. And Athletic Bilbao are what a football team should be about imo.

Another good football story from this season is Aston Villa foregoing a sponsor to put a charity on their shirt. I know other clubs have done this, but who says football is all about money?
 

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Rei Brasileiro
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watch Bilbao will use the money they saved with Joseba, and buy another younger play and Joseba will be benched his final season :howler:
 
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