Get the lowdown on the links between Southampton and Spanish side Athletic Club, who visit St Mary’s on Sunday 7th August.
Southampton and Athletic most recently met in the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup during 2011, which the Spanish side won, but the two clubs’ history goes back a little further than that.
The two places share a trade link that dates back to the 19th Century, when the Spanish city was a leading port of a key industrial era. It was the driving force of the Spanish economy and attracted many workers from overseas, including those from the Southampton shipyards.
The British workers brought the game of football with them, and are credited for introducing the sport to the area and forming Bilbao FC, an early making of Athletic Club as they stand today.
Athletic are even credited with playing in red and white stripes because a club representative was sent over to England many years ago to get a football kit for them. The story goes that when he got back to Southampton, where he was departing from, he remembered he did not have any, so he brought 50 Saints shirts with him, which were shared between themselves and Atletico Madrid.
In April 2015, Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier was honoured by the Spanish side with their inaugural ‘One-Club Man Award’.
The midfielder, who scored 209 goals in his 16-year playing career at Saints, was handed his award at half-time during Athletic’s La Liga clash with Real Sociedad.