Sunday 18 February 2018

Declan Lynch: Freed from ETA's darkness, Basques are on the ball

Freed from nationalist malaise, Athletic Bilbao are lighting up our Thursday nights, writes Declan Lynch

There will be a certain Irish interest when Athletic Bilbao play Athletico Madrid in the final of the Europa league in Bucharest next Wednesday.

The Basques from Bilbao have been on a journey not unlike our own. They have lived for decades with the disease of rabid nationalism in the form of ETA, soul brothers of the Provos.

Indeed, Athletic Bilbao itself has contributed to the nationalist malaise with a policy of signing only players with Basque roots, and naturally this narrow agenda has been largely unsuccessful in football terms for a long time.

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