Marcelino García Toral

Affection and emotion on the return to San Mamés

Marcelino met Athletic days after the cup final. He embraced his ex-players during the Villarreal's "pasillo"( tribute to the champion in which one team takes the field before the other and forms a sort of corridor for the winning team to pass through while being applauded as a sign of respect ) and shed several tears in the press conference afterwards.

Marcelino’s return to San Mamés was emotionally charged. In addition to the reunion with the fans and players with whom he was very close, there was a blessed coincidence: it was Athletic Club’s first match after the Copa del Rey title won in Seville. Faced with this exceptional circumstance, the Villarreal CF players and coaching staff did not hesitate to make the ‘pasillo’ to the champions. A nice gesture of sportsmanship and recognition of the recent winners.

The greetings and hugs with the red and white players marked the most symbolic moment of Marcelino’s return to San Mamés. The Asturian coach left a magnificent memory in the Athletic dressing room. With him at the helm, the Bilbao side won a Spanish Super Cup (in 2021) and played in two Copa del Rey finals.

Aside from the ‘pasillo’, before and after the match – which ended 1-1 – there were several scenes that revealed the special character of the duel. Among them were García Toral’s effusive greeting with the legendary José Ángel Iribar (the image was published on Athletic’s X account) and Marcelino’s own tears in the post-match press conference.

  He also dedicated a few words of affection to his former players in the microphones of the programme ‘Carrusel Deportivo’ (Cadena SER): “I was lucky enough to be coach of Athletic and now, when they have won this much-desired and well-deserved title, to be able to give them a hug”.