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Former teacher Iker Guarrotxena forges an unlikely friendship

We observe camaraderie among the teammates, but now we focus on an incredible bond between FC Goa man Iker Guarrotxena and his little friend.

Former teacher Iker Guarrotxena forges an unlikely friendship

Iker and Ashwin (credits: FC Goa media team)


Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 11 Dec 2022 3:54 PM GMT

Spanish forward Iker Guarrotxena didn't take a long time to get used to the Indian Super League as a part of Carlos Pena's FC Goa. Having already scored two goals, the player has certainly gelled well with his teammates on the pitch. However, that's not all.

Off the field, Guarrotxena has befriended a rather unusual suspect in the groundsman's son, Ashwin. The footballer and the eight-year-old are often seen together at the training ground running around or playing football.

Ashwin and Iker during one of their chats. (Source: Twitter/Iker Guarrotxena)

Interestingly, the 30-year-old player used to volunteer at elementary schools during his college days.

"I was doing an internship during my last year in school where I used to go for practise in the morning and in the afternoon I went to the elementary schools," he said." I spent the entire day with the elementary school students and on my day off as well."

Having been a teacher in the past, being affable with kids comes naturally to Iker. "In the beginning, we used to say hello. I used to ask him how are you? How's the school? How was your family? I enjoyed it too."

"As I said, I'm a former teacher of a primary school. I like to teach them to see them growing. When when you give a little bit to someone, and he gives you more, that's beautiful. That's the reason that makes me happier. He's a good boy and hopefully, I have made him a little bit happier than before," Guarrotxena said.

"Iker probably asked Chandan (FC Goa's kitman) about my son. From there, they got introduced to each other," said Albinus Toppo, FC Goa's groundsman and Ashwin's father.

"After the first day, he (Iker) sent me a pair of boots. We speak occasionally whenever we meet on the ground and he asks me how I'm doing. This is how our friendship began," Ashwin said.

Tryst with Athletic Bilbao

The 1984 Copa Del Rey final is quite infamous for the tussle between players after full time. The lone goal was scored by Endika Guarrotxena, who helped Athletic Bilbao win the title. Iker is the nephew of renowned Athletic Bilbao striker and Endika.

He was exposed to the sport from an early age, since his father was a professional football player as well. In his own words, he always had a ball at his feet. "Honestly, I don't remember exactly what was my first memory of football because in our home, football was there always. So I think it was a natural process."

"To be honest, in my family, no one pushed me to to play football. It was, as I say natural process with my friends in school and in the hood," Iker said.

Being a graduate of the esteemed Athletic Bilbao Academy, their philosophy of "No need for imports with domestic talent and local support" has certainly been been entrenched into the player. Iker states that it is not an easy process to follow.

A young Iker during his Bilbao days (Source: Athletic Bilbao website)

"Athletic Bilbao Academy is not just a football academy, there are some values you need to learn there. I think to build this philosophy, you need to start from the beginning to give them values, good education and good behavior."

Though it might feel strange that Athletic Bilbao only accepts their academy graduates and players from Basque (Northern Spain), Iker mentions about the beauty of it.

"I think it is beautiful because at the end you grow with the same group of players at the end they become your friends. I keep in touch with most of them. So yeah, you grow with a group of guys that you have the same feeling deep inside that you love this team," he said passionately.

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