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Aduriz denied fairytale send-off but his Athletic legacy will live on

The veteran forward was finally forced to hang up his boots due to a hip injury, having represented the Basques with distinction for almost 20 years

It was not supposed to end this way. The stars had aligned to grant Aritz Aduriz the send-off he most richly deserved: a dream Copa del Rey final between his hometown club and the team that made him a legend, against the backdrop of tens of thousands of Basque fans cheering on their heroes.

Sadly, however, that dream farewell was quashed by the coronavirus pandemic. Athletic’s clash with Real Sociedad has been postponed indefinitely; even though the Spanish season may resume in June, the Basque rivals’ insistence on playing in front of fans means it may be months before they meet in the showpiece, if it even escapes cancellation in the first place.

Aduriz has decided he cannot wait. On Wednesday the veteran bowed to the inevitable and hung up his boots for good, plagued by a hip injury which at the grand old age of 39 has forced him to take drastic measures.

“The time has come. I have said many times that football leaves you before you leave it,” he signalled in a statement shared on Twitter. “Just yesterday doctors advised I undergo surgery, the sooner the better, to implant a prosthetic hip and try to at least face day-to-day life in the best way possible.

“Unfortunately my body has said, ‘enough’… Forget about the dream finals, we’ll have time to say goodbye. The time to say farewell has come and here my unforgettable, wonderful road from start to finish comes to an end.”

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