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Athletic Bilbao captain Muniain tribute to Elizegi; welcomes Valverde return

Athletic Bilbao captain Iker Muniain has paid tribute to the former board after this summer's change.

In his first media conference for the new season, Muniain was eager to highlight the work of the former regime.

He said, “Before I start, I want to send a reminder to Aitor Elizegi and all his board for the last four years that we have been with them and to thank them publicly for all this time and also Marcelino for the fantastic year and a half that we have lived together.

“Having said that, I would of course like to welcome the new president Jon Uriarte and his team and with them Ernesto Valverde. I believe that a new era of renewal is coming with a lot of ambition, demand and enthusiasm, as they have told us. They have the full backing of those of us who make up Athletic so that these will be fantastic years and we can experience some very nice things".

When asked about new coach Ernersto Valverde, Muniain was delighted with his return.

“We are very happy that he is here. He is a top coach who knows the club very well, he was with us for many years and we were able to achieve some great things.

“We played four times in the Europa League and one in the Champions League and we won a Super Cup. When he decided to step aside to take on another experience, we were sad because we were doing very well.

“Football and life are very capricious and fate has meant that we can work together again.

“From the squad he had to the one he has today, there are many changes. I think that is an incentive that also motivates him. He sees that there are young players who are coming on strong, those of us who have already been with him know him and he is going to demand as much from us as anyone else.

“Between all of us we are going to try to build a competitive and winning Athletic, as we always try to do. He is still the same loving and close person who cares about the players.

“In terms of football, we are going to see what happens because today is the first training session. I'm sure that, like everyone else, he has been gaining experience that has helped him to continue to grow. He has coached one of the best clubs in the world, FC Barcelona. There is always time to learn and improve. We hope that, little by little, things will work out and we'll enjoy ourselves."

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