Aitor Egurrola, the bitterness of a winner

Aitor Egurrola, the most successful athlete in the history of FC Barcelona, ​​winner of 78 titles in 24 years, has not exactly had the dreamed and deserved farewell of the Palau Blaugrana. The azulgrana roller hockey team lost last Tuesday the fifth and decisive game of the semifinal play-off against Reus Deportiu by 3-4 and his goalkeeper will not be able to conclude his brilliant career with one more title from the renewed OK League. The Octopus, the nickname by which he was popularly known, left emotionally, in tears, honored by the corridor formed by the players of the two teams and the unanimous applause of the fans gathered at the Palau.

It has not been the best season for Egurrola, who started at Castelldefels, arrived at Barça in 1995 from Horta, made his first team debut in 1998 with a draw at the Liceo court and left at the age of 41, after winning 11 Euroleagues, 21 Leagues, 12 Cups and 11 Continentals, captain since 2012 when he inherited the bracelet from Beto Borregán. The international goalkeeper, who won two European Championships (2002 and 2004) and was a silver medalist in the 2015 World Cup, would have liked to continue for one more season -he renewed year after year-, but the club told him no and he chose to retire: “If I hadn’t been here, I wouldn’t have won so much,” settled Egurrola at the farewell ceremony held in March at the Auditori 1899.

The figure of Egurrola, successor to historical goals such as Carles Folguera and Carlos Trullols and competitor with the also international Sergi Fernández, will always be remembered because his shirt will be removed and will hang in the Palau. He still today holds the unbeaten record in the League with 230 minutes and 38 seconds, starting in the match against Reus until he was substituted in the last direct foul by Fernández. Barça lost after eight league titles in a row and their loot was reduced to the Cup and the Catalan League. “I never counted the trophies,” he said in an interview with El País. “I like the game and enter the locker room with a smile; My second home is the Palau.”

Egurrola was distinguished by his calm, quality and maturity, the three adjectives dedicated to him by Carlos Figueroa, his first coach at Barça. “I have 16 Basque surnames. My parents are from there and they moved for work reasons and, although I was born in Barcelona, ​​no one in my family had played roller hockey. I started at school when I was five years old”, he recalled in the same interview, already knowing that he would be the most successful athlete in Barcelona ahead of Sergi Panadero (72), David Barrufet (71), Víctor Tomás (69) and Raúl Entrerríos ( 56). Hockey and handball are historically the most successful sections of the Palau Blaugrana.

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