José Ángel Iribar

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José Ángel Iribar
DERBI DE LEYENDAS Korner Festibala 2019 (46268716714) (cropped).jpg
Iribar in 2019
Personal information
Full name José Ángel Iribar Cortajarena
Date of birth (1943-03-01) 1 March 1943 (age 76)
Place of birth Zarautz, Spain
Height 1.81 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1961–1962 Basconia 24 (0)
1962–1980 Athletic Bilbao 466 (0)
Total 490 (0)
National team
1964–1976 Spain 49 (0)
1979 Basque Country 1 (0)
Teams managed
1983–1986 Bilbao Athletic
1986–1987 Athletic Bilbao
1987 Bilbao Athletic
1988 Basque Country
1993–2010 Basque Country
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

José Ángel Iribar Cortajarena ("the poplar"; born 1 March 1943), nicknamed El Chopo, is a Spanish retired football goalkeeper and manager.

Having played almost exclusively for Athletic Bilbao, he appeared in more than 600 official games for the club over the course of 18 La Liga seasons, winning two major titles.[1]

Iribar represented the Spain national team in the 1964 Nations' Cup and the 1966 World Cup, winning the former tournament.

Club career[edit]

Iribar was born in Zarautz, Gipuzkoa. After only three La Liga games in his first professional season at Athletic Bilbao, he proceeded to become the Basques' undisputed starter for the following 16 seasons; his senior starts were made at CD Basconia in 1961, when the latter was still not the feeder team: they eliminated Atlético Madrid in the Copa del Generalísimo, and the keeper's stellar performance prompted his signing for a then-record 1 million pesetas.

At Athletic, Iribar profited from injury to Carmelo Cedrún in October 1963 and never looked back, winning two Spanish Cups and reaching the final of the 1976–77 UEFA Cup, lost to Juventus FC. During the 1970–71 campaign he kept a clean sheet at ten successive home games, which translated into a record of 1,018 minutes.

Iribar in 1978

Iribar was awarded a benefit match in 1971, a 1–1 draw against West Bromwich Albion (the former club of Athletic's manager at the time, Ronnie Allen), having already played the same opponents a few weeks earlier in England for Bobby Hope's testimonial.[2][3] He retired nine years later at 37, having played in 614 matches in all competitions (a club record by some margin), as another club great in the position, Andoni Zubizarreta, would arrive in the summer; he also held its appearance record in European competition until 2016, when his total of 55 was passed by Markel Susaeta.[4]

Subsequently, Iribar joined Athletic's coaching staff, taking charge of the goalkeepers. In 1983–84 he coached the reserve team Bilbao Athletic, leading them to the second place in the second division, a best-ever, although they were not eligible for promotion.

Iribar also managed the first team in the 1986–87 season – for the only time, the league had a second stage divided in three groups, and Athletic 'won' the relegation section (ranking 13th overall).[5] From 1988 and for over two decades, he was in charge of the Basque Country representative team.[6]

International career[edit]

Iribar made his debut for Spain on 11 March 1964, in the first leg of the 1964 European Nations' Cup's last qualifying stage, a 5–1 home win against the Republic of Ireland (7–1 aggregate).[7] He was the starter during the finals, and the nation emerged victorious on home soil.

Iribar also represented Spain at the 1966 FIFA World Cup, playing all three group stage matches. He retained his position for a further ten years, his last game coming on 24 April 1976 in a 1–1 against West Germany for the unsuccessful UEFA Euro 1976 qualifying, and earned a total of 49 caps.[8]

Style of play[edit]

Spanish 2010 World Cup winning goalkeeper Iker Casillas included Iribar in his list of the ten greatest goalkeepers of all time, and described him as "one of the greatest keepers Spain has ever produced. He was a big presence in goal and had that ability to intimidate opponents. But it wasn't all about his size, which is useless on its own. He combined his physicality with terrific positioning."[9] In Italy, the former was given the nickname "Zoff's twin", due to his goalkeeping ability, leadership and physical resemblance to Italian counterpart Dino Zoff.[10][11]

Political views[edit]

On 5 December 1976, before a game against Real Sociedad, Iribar and the opposing captain, Inaxio Kortabarria, carried out the Ikurriña, the Basque flag, and placed it ceremonially on the centre-circle.[12] This was the first public display of the flag since the death of Francisco Franco, but it was still illegal.

He subsequently became involved in Basque local politics, and was a founding member of the independentist coalition Herri Batasuna.[13]



Athletic Bilbao





  1. ^ "Leyendas del Athletic Club de Bilbao – 'El Chopo'" [Athletic Club de Bilbao legends – 'The Poplar']. El Correo (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  2. ^ Matthews, Tony (2015). Baggies Abroad: The Complete Record of West Bromwich Albion's Global Travels. Pitch Publishing. ISBN 9781785310997.
  3. ^ "Results 1970–71". Albion Till We Die. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Susaeta supera a Iribiar" [Susaeta surpasses Iribar]. Marca (in Spanish). 15 September 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  5. ^ "El Athlétic [sic] sustituye a Iríbar por Howard Kendall" [Athletic replace Iríbar with Howard Kendall]. El País (in Spanish). 19 June 1987. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Iribar abandona su cargo de seleccionador de Euskadi" [Iribar leaves his post as Euskadi manager]. Marca (in Spanish). 29 December 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  7. ^ "España, 5 – Irlanda, 1" [Spain, 5 – Ireland, 1]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 12 March 1964. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  8. ^ "José Ángel Iríbar – International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  9. ^ Guillem Balagué (5 February 2010). "Casillas names his top ten No1s". Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  10. ^ Giuseppe Ottomano. "IRIBAR Josè: il gemello di Zoff" [IRIBAR Josè: Zoff's twin] (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  11. ^ Eduardo Rodrigálvarez (12 June 2014). ""Casillas va a tener un papel estelar"" ["Casillas will have a starring role"] (in Spanish). El País. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Aquel histórico 5 de diciembre de 1976" [That historic 5 December 1976]. El Correo (in Spanish). 3 December 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Iribar se presentará a las elecciones con Herri-Batasuna" [Iribar to present himself to elections for Herri-Batasuna]. El País (in Spanish). 13 January 1979. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  14. ^ "2–2: Los andaluces remontaron dos ventajas vascas" [2–2: The Andalusians countered Basques' advantage twice]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 26 June 1977. Retrieved 5 May 2016.

External links[edit]