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The story of Txema Añibarro and the Basque dream (7th December, 2017)

This picture below encapsulates Spanish football, and all its dichotomies, perfectly.



The player on the left played for an Andalusian, is from Columbia, and cost 7 million euros. The one on the right played for a Basque club, is from the Basque Country, and cost nothing.

Today's story, naturally, is about the story on the right.

Txema Añibarro, a 6'2" rugged defensive midfielder, is very much the definition of the stereotypical Basque player....This is the story of a man who rose up the league system, from the fifth tier to the first, via only Basque clubs.

He started out with the juvenil sides of Padura (1997-98) and Indartsu (1998-99), before making his first team debut with fifth tier (Preferente) side Galdakao.

He would go on to play in the fifth tier for three seasons, one with Galdakao and two with Arratia (2000-02), before being signed by Tercera side Lemona in 2002, at the age of 23. After one season each with Lemona, Aurrerá Ondarroa and Gernika, he signed for Sestao River in 2005, where he would spend three seasons - the first ended with promotion, and at the age of 27 he would made his Segunda B debut. He became an undisputed starter, and earned a move to Segunda side Eibar in 2008.

Añibarro, now 29, appeared in 25 matches in his first season for the club and as a professional, but the Armeros were relegated to the Segunda B. However, he would remain at the club, and contributed with 27 appearances in the promotion campaign of 2012-13. And after Eibar's double promotion, the 35-year-old made his La Liga debut on the 16th of January, 2015.

Txema renews with Eibar for an additional season, 2014.

He would retire after the 2014-15 season - having risen from the fifth tier to the first, it was the end of a 15 year career on a literal high. He was immediately appointed coach at Athletic Bilbao's Cadete C team, perhaps to be a role model for youngsters looking for a symbol of perseverance...




And yet you don't know him. And Txema knows that - in March 2015, the La Liga player said that "Maybe Messi thinks Añibarro is a river in Eibar".

Is it just me, or is it genuinely saddening that there is a non-zero chance of that being true?



This blog loves mapping player's entire careers onto Google Maps.

Voilà.



The stadiums of Padura - Indartsu - Galdakao - Arratia - Lemona - Aurrerá Ondarroa - Gernika - Sestao River - Eibar


It's the proximity between the clubs that is fascinating...

Padura and Indartsu are just 3 km away from each other. Indartsu and Galdakao are 5 km away from each other. Galdakao and Arratia are 15 km away from each other. Arratia and Lemona are 6 km away from each other. Lemona and Aurrerá Ondarroa are 49 km away from each other. And then it's another 40 km to Gernika. And then another 47 km to Sestao River. And finally another 55km to Eibar.

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