Iturraspe makes emotional Bilbao exit

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Ander Iturraspe has confirmed he is leaving Athletic Bilbao after 11 seasons in the first-team fold.

Ander Iturraspe has confirmed he is leaving Athletic Bilbao after 11 seasons in the first-team fold.

The 30-year-old joined Los Leones as a nine-year-old and progressed through the club’s famous Lezama academy, making his debut in 2008 and going on to appear in 320 matches.

During that time, he has finished as a runner-up in the Copa del Rey on three occasions, while also being part of Marcelo Bielsa’s swashbuckling side that lost the Europa League final in 2012.

With his contract up this summer, Iturraspe has suggested in an open letter to the fans that it is time for him to embrace a new challenge.

‘I do not know how to start this farewell letter,’ he wrote.

‘It’s very strange but it’s clear that it was time to leave the club where I always wanted to be.

I can only thank and say that it has been a pride to wear the shirt that I have worn for so many years.

‘Thank you to all the coaches I’ve had during each of the seasons.

The values that you have instilled in me.

Work, generosity, commitment, loyalty…

and Athletic feeling.

I’ve learned something from everyone and I have memories forever.

‘I will continue to encourage you wherever you touch me.

I will continue to encourage you.’

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