Unai Simon

Unai Simon: The Young Spanish Goalkeeper Who Doesn’t Use Social Media

Unai Simon is a Spanish professional football player who plays for the Basque club Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish LaLiga. Unai Simon is also the starting goalkeeper for the Spanish National team. In this post, we will find out more about him. Let’s get started.

Unai Simon: All You Need To Know

When was Unai Simon born?

Unai Simon was born in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Alava, Basque Country on June 11th, 1997. He joined Athletic Bilbao’s youth system in 2011, from CD Aurrera de Vitoria. He made his debut as a senior with the farm team in the 2014-15 season, in the Third Division.

Unai Simon: Football Career

On June 8, 2016, Simon was promoted to the reserves, having recently been relegated to Segunda Division B. He immediately became a starter for the team, contributing 29 appearances during the campaign.

On June 2, 2017, new first-team manager Jose Angel Ziganda called up Simón to the main pre-season squad, but he continued to appear exclusively for the Bs. On July 13, 2018, he signed a contract extension until 2023 and was loaned to Elche CF in the Second Division two weeks later.

On August 15, 2018, after Kepa Arrizabalaga ‘s departure from the club and Iago Herrerín ‘s injury, Simon was withdrawn from the market by Athletic Bilbao. He initially seemed to be trailing the older Alex Remiro in the queue for selection, but he made his professional and La Liga debut five days later, starting in a 2–1 home win against CD Leganes.

In only his third league appearance for Athletic Bilbao, Simon played in a 1–1 draw with Real Madrid, where he made several key saves and was named man of the match. However, when Herrerín regained full fitness in October 2018, Simon was relegated to the position of second choice goalkeeper, only making an appearance in the Copa Del Rey.

What are Unai Simon’s origins?

When you pass through San Marcial and stop for a snack at Bar El Cruce, the least you could expect to find is that the decoration of this establishment is practically dedicated to the goalkeeper of Athletic Bilbao and the Spanish team, Unai Simon. Unless you are one of its inhabitants or a resident of a neighboring town, and you know that for the keeper of Spain, this town is like his home. Not in vain, he spent his summers there in his childhood before becoming one of the soccer references in our country.

Why is Zamora special for Unai Simon?

Unai Simon is Basque by birth but a large part of his heart is from Zamora. It is natural, it is still the town of his paternal grandparents, who still reside today in one of the houses near the Plaza de San Marcial. A small town in the municipality of El Perdigon where the surname Simon is synonymous with success, starting with his father whose successes in orienteering are well known, or the famous journalist from El Mundo, also his family. Although now, without a doubt, the most illustrious neighbor of this town with about 150 inhabitants is the young 23-year-old goalkeeper.

How is Unai Simon with his fans?

As famous as he is, Unai has not lost an iota of his simplicity. Or at least that’s what they say in the town, where Unai Simón meets whenever he can to support his neighbor through the television. “It is a pride that he is our neighbor and not because he is the goalkeeper of Athletic or Spain, because he has always been a great kid,” says Javier Martín, owner of the Bar El Cruce where the fans of the goal have their meeting point.

“He is an extraordinary young man, he has a good manner with everyone and the boys adore him,” says Martín, pointing out that the last time Unai Simon passed through the town “he gathered all the boys and girls and took them to an era to give a few touches”. An action that surely made more than one of those little soccer players terribly happy who dream of following in their footsteps to professional soccer that now keeps Simon away from this enclave.

The goalkeeper of the Spanish National team has not stopped stepping through the town of his childhood, but he does it much less frequently as the years go by. It is logical that his relevance on the international scene continues to grow and football commitments are bound to take more time out of Unai Simon’s schedule.

“Last summer he could barely spend two or three days here,” recalls Javier Martín, pointing out that “when he can he goes to see his grandparents” and pays a visit to his childhood friends in San Marcial but “his father is the one who comes here much more often.” In spite of everything, on those dates when he drops by, Unai Simón does not shut himself up at home with his grandparents and goes out to meet those neighbors with whom he spent so many summers. “I think he would like to come more,” they say at Bar El Cruce, where the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper hangs out and plays cards. 

How was Unai Simon’s childhood? 

Before making a secret sign, winking, or even trying to win in those games of dominoes so typical of those lands, Unai Simon lived a much more sporting childhood in San Marcial. One in which football was not lacking, but also other activities typical of those long summers in the province of Zamora. “He came every year and spent his time up and down on his bicycle, like the rest of the young people his age,” explains the owner of Bar El Cruce, where although there are no photos of the doorman when he was younger, there are. that remains the memory of their summer stays.

“Summer vacations have always been spent here,” they insist, also remembering those hot afternoons in which all the kids, including the current goalkeeper of the Spanish team, went down to the front to kick the ball “because it is the only place to play football in this town”.

A humble setting, like the municipality itself, which took years to be able to count on drinking water. A problem that Unai Simon also knew first-hand, whom the photographers of that time portrayed helping his grandparents to fill jugs, taking advantage of the visit of the tanker truck on duty. Because, from what they say, helping with homework and helping the neighbors were very important for Unai Simon.

The years have passed and now, the water is not unhealthy in San Marcial, nor does Unai Simon leave stretched out for the memory of its pediment, although the goalkeeper’s saves continue to be commented on by relatives, friends and neighbors, whose new tradition is to get together to enjoy his performances on the green through television.

“ In Athletic matches, we always try to get together a few to be able to see it”, highlights Javier Martín, who has in front of the bar a framed shirt of “the lions” with the number 26 and the name of Unai Simon, carrying the jacket on his shoulder with the logo of the Europa League. A gift from the goalkeeper who presides over a decoration in which there is no lack of photos with the colors of the Bilbao club, the national team, and even a poster with the squad of the rojiblanco squad with the signatures of all its footballers. A selection of objects to which the owner of the establishment intends to add, shortly, a large vinyl also dedicated to his neighbor.

Do a lot of people line up to watch Unai Simon play every week?

For now, there are few who come to follow the adventures of Unai Simon through the television in this bar in San Marcial, but it is still normal. First, due to the pandemic, and then because, throughout this season, “Athletic has almost always played on Mondays”, and it is difficult for there to be much activity in the town beyond the weekend.

However, the arrival of the European Championship may mean that the center of the Peña Unai Simón remains small because, if something arouses passion in the fans, it is the national team and the summer brings with it the return of several neighbors to this municipality and to the adjoining, those in which the current goalkeeper of Luis Enrique’s team also spent his youth and in which he made friends at parties and festivals.

It was surprising that in a few weeks when the continental tournament started, there were those who came to this hamlet of El Perdigon to experience Spain’s contest closely in a European Championship in which Zamora had representation thanks to Unai Simon, that young boy from Basque who was looking forward to summer every year to go to San Marcial to see his grandparents and kick a football around

How was Unai Simon’s debut with the Spanish senior team?

Three days before the debut of the Spanish team in the European Championship, the Basque goalkeeper blew out the 24 candles on his birthday cake. Despite his youth and having only three seasons in the football elite, Unai Simon had taken over the reins of a position as decisive as the Red goalkeeper. After his mistake against Croatia, his saves in the penalty shootout against Switzerland made him the hero of the competition and a more than worthy successor to the legendary Iker Casillas, who left him blessed on his social networks: “Great Unai Simón. Top “. This young goalkeeper, who in just a few years has gone from playing football in the town of Murguía to being a starter in the European Championship, could not even imagine getting where he has in such a short time.

“Nobody expects those things. You dream from time to time watching television, putting yourself in the place of the footballers you saw when you were a child. But you never consider being like them. This is a sequence of events and the moment arrives”, he confessed in an interview with ‘El Correo’ shortly before starting the continental competition. With a reputation for being serious and a calm man in any circumstance, Unai came to the Bilbao team as a cadet, and little by little he was promoted through the lower categories of the club. But, in addition to his good work under the sticks, a coincidence played an important role in him now being in full media focus.

Loaned to second division Elche in 2018 due to the surplus of goalkeepers at his club, about to start the season one of them left the team and another was injured and the young man from Vitoria was urgently requested to return home. Since then he has won titles with Athletic Bilbao,  Spanish Super Cup. Unai Simon has also won an international title, the European Under – 21 championships. Unai is no stranger to criticism, fitting in with strength unbecoming of his age, showing that he has more than enough personality. “People tell me I’m serious. The matches aren’t fun either,” says this atypical footballer.

How is Unai Simon different from other young professional footballers?

To begin with, he does not have any social media presence, nor does he wear any of the usual tattoos that adorn almost every inch of the body of many of his colleagues, nor is he seen wearing gold chains or other outlandish accessories. “I’m outside of them, I don’t find them of any benefit,” he spoke about his lack of interest in showing off on Instagram. “I don’t like exposing myself to the media. I’m not a very outgoing person. I’d rather expose myself to 60,000 people in a field than to 10 journalists. I have a very healthy group of friends to whom I can tell any problem, a girlfriend, I have a lot of people who support me,” added Unai, referring to a relationship that he leads with such discretion that the identity of the lucky one is unknown.

Who does Unai Simon credit for his success?

A lot of the credit for the goalkeeper’s success rests with his father, a native of a small town in Zamora, San Marcial del Vino, a policeman stationed in the Basque Country where he met his mother, a member of the Ertzaintza. 

It was he who recorded the young goalkeeper’s first games on video so that Unai could review them with his coach and correct the mistakes he had made. “My family doesn’t have a good time watching me play football. Except with my father, who I think is having a worse time, many of the conversations are unrelated to football. They don’t tell me I’ll win or anything. The message is the one that they have always transmitted: that I have a good time and try to enjoy myself. With the demands that I put on myself, I still don’t enjoy it as much as I should. I’m very proud of my family”, said Simon. Proud would also be his parents, who saw him win in St. Petersburg. Proud of him is Luis Enrique, who before the penalty shootout against the Swiss told him: “You are very big.” Unai Simon is all set to be Spain’s preeminent goalkeeper for years to come. 

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