Club Athletic Bilbao
Athletic Club, also commonly known as Athletic Bilbao, is a professional football club, based in Bilbao, Biscay, Spain.
They are known as Los Leones (The Lions) because their stadium was built near a church called San Mamés (Saint Mammes). Mammes was a semi-legendary early Christian thrown to the lions by the Romans. Mammes pacified the lions and was later made a saint.
The club has played in the Primera División of La Liga since its start in 1929. They have won the league on eight occasions. In the historical classification of La Liga, Athletic are in fourth place and one of only three clubs which have never been relegated from the Liga, the others being Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The club also has a women's team, which has won four championships in the Primera División Femenina.
The club is known for its cantera policy of bringing young Basque players through the ranks, as well as recruiting top Basque players from other clubs (like Joseba Etxeberria and Javi Martínez). Athletic official policy is signing professional players native to or trained in football in the greater Basque Country, including Biscay, Gipuzkoa, Álava and Navarre (in Spain); and Labourd, Soule and Lower Navarre (in France). This has gained Athletic both admirers and critics. The club has been praised for promoting home grown players and club loyalty. Athletic is one of only three professional clubs in Spain in La Liga (the others being Real Madrid and Barcelona) that is not a sports corporation; it is owned and operated by its club members.
It's main rival is Real Sociedad, against whom it plays the Basque derby. Another Basque rival is CA Osasuna.
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