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When Basque clubs suddenly dominated La Liga

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

03:05 28 Mar 2019


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The Basque Country has always played a crucial role in Spanish football.

But it's been decades since the region's leading clubs have tasted elite silverware.

That came back in the 1980s and was remarkable in terms of what Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad achieved.

For four years at the start of the 1980s, those two clubs won four league titles in a row.

La Real won in 1980-81 and 1981-82, before Athletic took the 1982-83 and 1983-84 La Liga titles.

Remarkable

What's even more remarkable is that they finished above Real Madrid and Barcelona whilst picking from a restricted pool of players.

To this day, Athletic only pick players either from the Basque regions, of Basque origin or raised in the area.

Back in the 1980s, Real Sociedad maintained a similar policy. And it wasn't until they signed ex-Ireland striker John Aldridge that they broke with that policy.

This week on The Guardian's Sid Lowe was in town for The Spanish Football Podcast live show at Liberty Hall.

I went down to meet him and the subject of the chat was Basque football, including the seeds of that '80s era.

You can listen to the full podcast right below, hereor on iTunes. You can also watch the chat above via YouTube.

When Basque clubs suddenly dominated La Liga

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Also this week, the name Team 33 was doing the rounds - nothing to do with the show though.

Joe Coffey, Derek Ryan, Jonathan Higgins and I were recording this week's Team 33 chat during Ireland vs Georgia.

On 33 minutes, Ireland fans threw tennis balls on the pitch in protest at the FAI and John Delaney. The '33' is in reference to the time, there was a brief campaign to have the Boys in Green installed as the 33rd team at the 2010 World Cup. That followed the Thierry Henry handball and it's where our show name came from (hat-tip to Joe for coming up with it all the way back in May 2014!)

Anyway, we discussed fan protests and also talked about the best stadium atmospheres we've experienced. We also played out Jonathan's chats with Liverpool legends including Sami Hyypia and Robbie Fowler at the recent Legends game against AC Milan.

Listen in to that podcast below.

When Basque clubs suddenly dominated La Liga

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

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1980s Athletic Bilbao Basque Country Derek Ryan Joe Coffey Jonathan Higgins Raf Diallo Real Sociedad Sid Lowe Team 33

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