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Athletic Club Savour The Week Of Their Lives After Historic Copa del Rey Win

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Athletic Club’s journey to Seville, 907km away, with 100,000 fans, ended in their first major title win in 40 years, celebrated well past midnight. The triumphant return turned the Roman road, known as the Silver Route, red and white, with the trophy proudly displayed under the tree of Gernika, a symbol dear to their hearts.

A spontaneous street revelry ensued, accompanied by a mobile disco, though it earned them a police fine. Amidst it all, the cherished gabarra, a river cruise long yearned for, became the centerpiece. The subsequent six-hour queues to catch a glimpse of the Copa del Rey only affirmed the reality of their victory.

For seven days, the celebration persisted, culminating in a grand finale at San Mamés. Despite enduring six final defeats over the decades, this win felt like destiny, even acknowledged by Marcelino García Toral, the opposing coach who had experienced the losses firsthand. The admiration for Athletic extended far beyond Bilbao, with Coach Ernesto Valverde noting how their philosophy resonated deeply with many, perhaps even reconciling them with football itself.

Symbolism permeated every aspect of the celebration, from Valverde’s tribute T-shirt to Iñaki Williams’ nostalgic embrace of the team’s classic jersey. The camaraderie of past and present players, embodied by the presence of the 1984 team, alongside the legendary goalkeeper José Ángel Iribar, aged 81, added to the poignancy of the moment.

The match against Villarreal, the final act of their extraordinary week, carried immense significance. Despite concerns of a celebratory hangover, Athletic approached the game with determination. The atmosphere at San Mamés was electric, with a sold-out crowd witnessing a spirited performance. Although a late penalty denied them a fairy-tale ending, the magnitude of their achievement transcended the outcome.

The post-match scenes, with players singing and embracing amidst tears of joy, encapsulated the depth of their collective triumph. Marcelino’s emotional presence in the tunnel, offering hugs and words of encouragement, underscored the profound significance of the moment. As the celebrations concluded, with the gleaming trophy held aloft, it marked the end of an unforgettable chapter in Athletic Club’s history.

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