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Watch: Incredible scenes at Athletic Bilbao trophy parade

Athletic Bilbao are a truly unique club and are well-respected and admired by many supporters across Europe, and after a 40-year wait, they have finally ended their trophy drought.

Understandably, their fans have been overwhelmed with emotion ever since their Copa Del Ray triumph, and that was clear to see during the side's trophy parade on Thursday, April 11.

Athletic Bilbao fans storm the Nervion River

Athletic Bilbao Trophy Parade
Athletic Bilbao ended a 40-year wait for silverware with their Copa Del Ray triumph. Photo by Icon Sport

Athletic Bilbao end 40-year trophy drought

Bilbao had not won a single major trophy in 40 years – their last triumph coming in 1984.

With that in mind, upon securing their place in the 2024 Copa Del Ray final, Bilbao supporters would have been delighted that their opponents were Mallorca, a side currently languishing towards the bottom of La Liga.

However, despite them being the overwhelming favourites, it was not a straightforward victory by any stretch of the imagination and Mallorca took them all the way to penalties, with the Basque club emerging as 4-2 victors.

The trophy parade

This was no ordinary trophy parade which is unsurprising given the context outlined above. The Bilbao supporters took their celebrations to the water, calling upon famous barges such as the “La Garbarra” to help them storm down the Nervion River.

A reported 100,000 supporters attended the parade and an intoxicating party-like atmosphere was rife on the streets surrounding the river.

Trophy parades are one of the most enjoyable spectacles in all of football, and this was easily one of the most impressive of recent times.

Why are Athletic Bilbao a special club?

Remarkably, since 1912, Bilbao have restricted themselves to only signing Basque-born players or players who were signed to Basque-based academies from a young age.

At times, this strategy has perhaps hindered their success as it of course greatly reduces the talent pool they have at their disposal, but it ensures the side stays true to their values and it is something that supporters of the Spanish outfit are extremely proud of.

This policy then is deeper than just football and ensures that Bilbao, who are a symbol of Basque, are not lured into breaking tradition in the modern era of the sport, which would likely see the side benefit hugely from a financial point of view for doing so.

However, certain sections of the fanbase are calling for a change regarding the strategy, believing that children and grandchildren of Basque people who currently live abroad should also be allowed to represent the club.

The policy is clearly not perfect then, but what is undeniable is the fact that their recent Copa Del Ray triumph is made all the more impressive by its presence.


Harry Dowsett

Freelance football writer with experience writing for multiple digital platforms, such as GIVEMESPORT. Recently graduated from Portsmouth University with a media studies degree - completing a dissertation on the evolution of sports journalism in the process. He has a love for Arsenal Football Club and a passion for football as a whole.

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