Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Basque Greatest All-time 23 member team

Ignacio Kortabarria and José Ángel Iribar 1976 showing the Basque flag in 1976

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

The Basque country is the homeland of the Basque people.  It consists areas that are parts of Spain and France.  The Basque footballers have been capped by many countries. Athletic Bilbao is the symbol of Basque nationalism.  It is one of the most successful clubs in Spain.  It has an unwritten rule that the club only fields Basque players.  This is my All-Time 23 member team for the Basque people.  I am including Basque players who were capped by other countries.  

I have also created all-time teams for Spanish regions: Castile and Catalonia, and Athletic BilbaoMy all time team 23 member team for Spain. 
Basque National Team
Team 
GK: Andoni Zubizarreta (Spain)
Represented La Roja in 4 World Cup Finals. He was at one point Spain's cap record holder.  He won Barcelona's first ever Champions' League in 1992.

GK: José Ángel Iribar (Spain)
Iribor spent his entire career with Athletic Bibao.  He played over 600 games in a 18 year career.  He was Spain's starting keeper at the European Championship as Spain won their first ever major trophy.

GK: Luis Arconada (Spain)
He played his entire career with Real Sociedad, capturing back-to-back La lira titles from 1980 to 1982.  He was capped 68 times, helping Spain to reach the Euro 1984 Final.  His blunder in the Final caused Spain to lose in that Final.


RB: José Orue (Spain)
He was a long-time footballer for Atletic Bilboa during the 1950's.  At the time of writing, he is their fourth most appearance record for the club. He earned 3 caps for Spain.

CB:  Jacinto Quincoces (Spain)
One of the greatest defenders of the pre-war era. He played 25 matches for the Spain national football team from 1928 to 1936, and was part of Spain's 1934 FIFA World Cup team.  Fiornhis domestic career, he won the first ever title for Real Madrid in 1930.
Jacinto Quincoces 
CB:  Andoni Goikoetxea (Spain)
Nicknamed "The Butcher" for his style of play, Goikoetxea.  He played mainly for Atletic Bilboa, but also with Atletico Madrid.  He was a part of Javier Clemente's Bilboa team that won back-to-back league title from 1982 to 1984.  However, he was best remembered for almost ending Diego Maradona's career with a tackle in 1983.  A year later, he became the focal point of the infamous brawl between Barcelona and Atletic Bilboa at the Final of Copa del Rey.  

CB:  Jesús Garay (Spain)
Rated among the best ever centre-back to be capped for Spain, Garay went to the WC Finals in 1962.  He spent 10 seasons with Athletic Bilboa and then, Barcelona for another 5 seasons. He won five major titles with Athletic Bilboa. He also played a single season with CD Málaga. He had 29 caps. He was part of the squad that competed at the 1962 FIFA World Cup, featuring in the 0–1 group stage loss to Czechoslovakia.

CB: Rafael Alkorta (Spain)
Having represented Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid during a 17-year professional career, he amassed La Liga totals of 370 games and eight goals, winning three trophies with the latter club.At Real Madrid, he won two La Liga titles.  He went to the WC Finals in 1990, 1994 and 1998.

LB:  Bixente Lizarazu (France)
Bixente Lizarazu was the leftback for the all-conquering French team of 1998 and 2000.  He had 97 caps. Lizarazu began his professional career with Girondins de Bordeaux, but better known for playing with Bayern Munich for 9 seasons. He won the Champions' League in 2001. He is a Basque and played for Atletico Bilbao.  

Bixente Lizarazu 
DM/LB: Jose Maria Zarraga (Spain)
From 1951 to 1961, he played for Real Madrid.  He won 11 major trophies, including 5 European Cups.  He played in the Finals.  he made 8 appearance with Spain and once as the captain.

LB:  Agustin Aranzabal (Spain)
From 1993 to 2004, he starred for Real Sociedad.  He moved to Zaragoza in 2004.  He had 28 caps.

DM: Ignacio Zoco (Spain)
Best remembered for his 12 seasons with Real Madrid. He was a member of the Ye Ye team of Real Madrid that defined an era in Spanish football.  He won the 1966 European Cup with the club.  He was capped 20 times for Spain, winning Euro 1964.

DM:  Didier Deschamps (France)
He was only the second captain in history to lift the three big trophies: the Champions League trophy, the World Cup trophy and the European Championship trophy.  The prime of his career was spent with Marseille and Juventus, where he won a Champions League for each club.

CM: Xabi Alonso  (Spain)
Xabi Alonso started with Real Sociedad.  He won Champions' League trophies with both Liverpool and Real Madrid.  He was a key member of the Spanish team that the WC and two European Championships.  His 114 caps make him the fifth most capped player in the nation's history.
Xabi Alonso
AM/RM: Gaizka Mendieta (Spain)
Mendieta was a big star while playing for Valencia between 1993 and 2001.  He led them to back-to-back Champions' League Final in 2000 and 2001.  He moved to Lazio in 2001, but he failed to find his form.  Then, he played one season with Barcelona, where the club only ranked 6th.  He would also play with Middesbrough FC. He earned 40 caps.

LW: Agustin Gainza (Spain)
He spent his entire career with Athletic Bilbao, winning 10 major titles.  He won 33 caps and was the captain of Spain in the WC 1950, where they finished 4th.

FW/RW: Joseba Etxeberria (Spain)
Etxeberria started his career with Real Sociedad, but moved to Athletic Bilbao in 1995, breaking the transfer record for an under 18 player in Spain.  He was capped 53 times.

AM/ST:  Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
His career in Europe started slowly.  He played poorly for Manchester United, but his career took off after heading to Spain in 2004.  He was two-time European Golden Shoe winner in 2004-2005 and then, 2008-2009.  He won the Golden Ball at South Africa 2010, where Uruguay finished 4th.  His best years were with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.
Diego Forlan
ST: Mundo (Spain)
Mundo is the highest scorer in Valencia's history and remained one of the top scorers in La Liga's history.  He started his career with Athletic Bilbao, playing a single game before the Spanish Civil War cut short his stay.  He played for Valencia after the War.

ST: Rafael Moreno Aranzadi "Pichichi" (Spain)
The award for la Liga top-scorer is named after him.  He scored 240 goals in 170 matches for Athletic Bilbao. He won 4 Copa del Rey. In 1920, Pichichi was a member of the very first Spain national team that played at the Summer Olympic Games in Belgium. He earned five senior caps during one month, his debut coming on 28 August in a 1–0 win against Denmark.

ST: Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina)
Born in France of an Argentinian player Jorge Higuain, Gonzalo first starred for River Plate in Argentina.  He joined Real Madrid in 2006.  He became a fan's favourite after scoring the winning goal against Espanyol on his debut season.  He would stay with the club until 2013.  For the national team, he earned 52 caps.  He was brought into the national team after Argentina struggled to qualify for South Africa 2010.
Gonzalo Higuain
ST: Isidro Langara (Spain)
Langara was a star player with Real Oviedo before the start of the Spanish Civil War.  After the War, he became an exile playing for San Lorenzo in Argentina. He scored 110 goals in 121 games.  In 1940, he was the league's joint-top scorer. In 1943, he moved to p=lay for Real Espana in Mexico.  He was the league's top scorer.  In 1946, he returned to Spain and played fro Real Oviedo again.

ST: Telmo Zarra (Spain)
Athletic Bilbao's greatest player.  Zarra signed for Athletic after playing one season for Erandio. He became a prolific goalscorer in his 15 seasons at the club, winning the Pichichi Trophy as the highest scorer in La Liga on six occasions. During his career, Zarra scored a total of 251 league goals, a Spanish record that lasted nearly six decades. His 81 goals in the Copa del Rey remains a record today .He was capped 20 times and scored 20 goals for Spain. He was a member of the 1950 World Cup team.
Telmo Zarra

Honorable Mention:
Ivan Campo, Aitor Karanka, Agustin Aranzabal , Jose Ramon Alexanko, Leonardo Cilaurren, Jose Mari Bakero, Estanisiao Argote, Luis Regueiro, Bata, Javi Martinez, Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Llorente, Dani, Urrutti, Juan Alonso, Ignacio Eizaguirre, Jose Eulogio Garate, Julio Salinas, Cesar Azpilicueta. Asier del Horno, Javi Martínez, Aritz Aduriz, René Petit, Asier Illarramendi, Ion Andoni Goikoetxea

Squad Explanation
-- Basque has a strength in keepers. Juan Alonso, Urrutti and Ignacio Eizaguirre were great keepers, but could not make the cut.
-- Joseba Etxeberria was selected for his commitment to Atletico Bilboa, which is considered to be liked the real national team of Basque.
-- Ion Andoni Goikoetxea was a forward. Andoni Goikoetxea was the centerback known for his rivalry with Diego Maradona.
-- I only brought two fullbacks.  I felt Asier del Horno and Cesar Azpilicueta have not done enough.  Instead, I selected Jose Maria Zarraga was a key member of Real Madrid of the 1950's.  He could play as a left back.
-- Leonardo Cilaurren deserved a spot.
-- Telmo Zarra is probably the best known striker from Basque.

Starting lineup
Basque has a number of great strikers, but Diego Forlan proved himself at the WC Finals, the highest stage in football.



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