BILBAO, Spain – Aritz Aduriz, the sixth-leading scorer in the history of Athletic Club, said on Wednesday that he is retiring after doctors told him he needs a prosthetic hip.
The 39-year-old striker, who also had stints with Valencia and Mallorca, scored more than 150 goals in 296 appearances for the Bilbao side.
The San Sebastian native played internationally for both Spain and the Basque region.
“The time has come. Many times, I have said that football will leave you before you leave it,” Aduriz said in a message posted on Twitter. “Yesterday, the doctors told me to go see the surgeon, sooner rather than later, to get a prosthetic to replace my hip and to try and go about my everyday life, as normally as possible. Unfortunately, my body has said ‘enough.’”
“I can’t help my teammates the way I would like to, nor the way they deserve. That is the life of a professional athlete. Simple. Very simple,” he said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a halt to sporting events, Aduriz was looking forward to leading Athletic against archrivals Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey final, originally scheduled for April 18.
The all-Basque-region clash was set to give Athletic’s talisman a golden opportunity to go out on a high. But with no new date set for the Copa final and the discouraging news from the doctors, Aduriz decided now is the time to hang up his cleats.
“Unfortunately, we are living through situations much more grim and painful,” he wrote. Therefore, I don’t want you to worry about me, this is just an anecdote.”
“Let’s forget about the finals we dreamt about, because we will have time to say goodbye. And yes, the time has come to say goodbye and this is how the road ends for me – unforgettable and marvelous, from beginning to end,” Aduriz concluded.
Athletic hailed Aduriz as one of the “most charismatic” players, both on and off the field, in club history and recalled the four goals he scored to power the Bilbao team 5-1 over Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona in the 2015 Spanish Super Cup.
Sociedad chimed in with a tribute to their now-former adversary.
“We would have liked to bid you farewell in the Copa final of our dreams,” the San Sebastian club said on Twitter. “Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to face you all these years.
“We wish you the best for future. We’ll see each other around Donostia,” Real Sociedad said, using the Basque name for San Sebastian.