Athletic Bilbao bid a final farewell to its iconic San Mames Stadium with an emotion-filled friendly match in which three of the team's legendary players took the field shortly before the final whistle.
The big surprise of Wednesday evening's contest, which pitted Athletic Bilbao against a group of players from the northern Spanish province of Biscay, came when 70-year-old Jose Angel Iribar, or "El Chopo," suited up and entered the game in the closing seconds.
Iribar played for Athletic Bilbao as a goalkeeper for 18 seasons between 1962 and 1980 and helped lead the club to two Copa del Rey titles (1969 and 1973). He also managed the team in the 1986-87 season.
Former Athletic Bilbao greats Daniel "Dani" Ruiz Bazan and Julen Guerrero also came on as late-game substitutes and were warmly received by Los Leones' loyal fan base, as were two of the team's other former standouts, Genar Andrinua and Pablo Orbaiz.
A goal by Alain Arroyo, a player for Spanish second-division club CD Mirandes, gave the Biscay side a 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao and will go down in the annals as the last ever scored at "La Catedral," which opened in 1913 and was the Iberian nation's oldest built stadium.
It will begin to be demolished on Thursday and the Spanish first-division club will play at a new stadium known as San Mames Barria in the 2013-14 La Liga season. EFE