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Athletic Club

Athletic Club
Athletic Club players and supporters celebrate after the team reached their 35th Copa del Rey final in 2009 ©AFP

Athletic Club

Formed: 1898
Nickname: Los Leones (The Lions)

UEFA club competition honours (runners-up in brackets)
• UEFA Cup: (1977)

Domestic honours (most recent triumph in brackets)
• League title: 8 (1984)
• Spanish Cup: 23 (1984)

• The club can trace their roots back to an 1894 newspaper advert challenging immigrant workers to a game. The "visitors" were victorious, but it began a process that ended, four years later, with the creation of Athletic Club. A side made up of Athletic Club and Bilbao FC players, Club Bizcaya, claimed the Copa del Rey in 1902, beating FC Barcelona in the final. A year later, the teams made the merger permanent.

• Under a succession of English coaches, Athletic won the Spanish Cup four times (1903, 1904, 1910 and 1911), the latter triumph the first in red and white stripes, a replacement for blue and white. It was also the year that prolific forward Rafael Moreno 'Pichichi' (the man who gives his name to the Liga's top scorer title) emerged; by 1913 he was wowing bigger audiences at the newly-built San Mamés.

• The late 1920s and early 30s brought a golden age as a team bursting with home-grown talent won 16 titles in eight years, including the second and third editions of the Liga (1930, 1931). Further successes followed in 1934 and 1936, and though the Spanish Civil War halted the flow of silverware, a side spearheaded by Telmo Zarra – still Liga's all time leading goalscorer – brought home the 1943 championship.

• Quick to make an impression in the domestic game, Los Leones caught the eye on their continental debut, too, until they were defeated 6-5 on aggregate by Manchester United FC in the 1956 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-finals. By now domestic honours were down to a trickle of one Copa del Rey per decade, though that would have been forgotten had Athletic beaten Juventus in the 1977 UEFA Cup final rather than losing on away goals.

• Javier Clemente guided Athletic to their first Liga title in 27 years in 1983, following that up with a league and cup double 12 months later. It was a false dawn. One of only three top-flight ever-presents along with Barcelona and Real Madrid CF, Los Leones have not claimed major silverware since.

Club records
Most appearances: José Ángel Iribar (614)
Most goals: Telmo Zarra (333)
Record victory: Athletic Club 12-1 FC Barcelona (Liga, 8 February 1931); Athletic Club 12-1 RC Celta de Vigo (Copa del Rey, 1947)
Record defeat: FC Barcelona 7-0 Athletic Club (Liga, 3 February 2001)

*Last updated on 3 August 2010

Last updated: 03/08/10 18.12CET

Club record in UEFA competitions