Bidasoa Irun return to Europe with a full Artaleku

EHF / Tiago Nogueira

The Spanish side Bidasoa Irun returns for another season of European handball in EHF European League 2022/23 after successfully navigating their way through qualification.

The most dramatic game of the EHF European League Qualification was the tie between Bidasoa Irun and Kolstad Handball, with the Norwegian side cancelling out the three-goal loss from the first leg only to go out at penalties when Langeland missed the sixth shot - and just like that, Irun advanced to the group phase.

Therefore, Bidasoa Irun are in Group D with the powerful Füchse Berlin, Aarhus, Eurofarm Pelister, Motor and the Portuguese team Águas Santas. This squad of the Basque country mixes youthful irreverence with experience and also has a great history and ambition.

Main facts

  • qualified for the EHF European League group phase by beating Norwegian side Kolstad on penalties in qualification
  • two-time Spanish champions and EHF Champions League winners in 1994/95
  • the Spanish team have 8 players that are 24 years old or under
  • Jacobo Cuetara has been the head coach of Bidasoa Irun since 2016/17
  • Julen Aginagalde, a famous pivot, has taken up the functions of player and sports director
  • the biggest signing this season is Jakub Skrzyniarz, a Polish goalkeeper joining from Górnik Zabrze

Most important question: What is the real importance of playing again in this European competition?

Bidasoa Irun are a historic club and after they've achieved an epic qualification for this group phase, confidence and motivation are on top at the moment.

“It’s very important to be back in this competition to continue growing in the future,” Jacobo said and he added the pride of “playing in front of our fans against some of the best teams in the world”.

The team captain Jon Azkue acknowledges that the biggest motivation for this season is to enjoy. “Let Irun and Artaleku enjoy great European handball nights again,” he said.

Under the spotlight: Jon Azkue

Jon Azkue is a great player and team captain. The 28-year-old centre back is a key player in Bidasoa Irun, and had this coming of age as an athlete in this Spanish team. The club from the basque country were the only team he represented in his entire career.

An intelligent athlete and essential in the team's attack, Jon Azkue assists very well and also finishes at the top level. He masters the 1 vs 1 technique very well and compensates for his stature (184 cm).

How do they rate themselves?

There are no doubts about Bidasoa’s pride in competing again in this EHF European League with so many players from the Basque country in the squad. And the main goal will be to enjoy each game and fight for the Last 16.

The head coach Jacobo Cuetara demonstrated joy, and ambition and praised this competition: “The goal is to enjoy the competition, we have been participating in it for years and we are proud to achieve the group phase. But we also want a place in the Last 16,” he highlighted.

Did you know?

Julen Aginagalde faces his last season as a player. Being a player from Irun, trained in Irun, who has reached such a high level, he is the emblem of the club and the region. And Julen will continue at the club next season as sporting director.

What the numbers say

It is the fourth year in a row that Bidasoa Irun are in Europe. Jacobo Cuetara faces his 7th season with the Spanish team, of which the last four had European handball in them. Bidasoa Irun's best streak of playing European handball season-on-season sits at five.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Medhi Harbaoui (Selestat Alsace), Jakub Skrzyniarz (Gornik Zabrze), Mihajlo Mitic (Puente Genil), Asier Nieto (Bada Huesca)

Departures: Jose Manuel Sierra (Retired), Xoan Ledo (Istres Provence Handball) and Adrian Fernandez (BM Torrelavega)

Team captain: Jon Azkue

Coach: Jacobo Cuetara, since 2016/17

Past achievements

National champion: two times

National cup winner: two times

EHF Champions League: one time (1994/95)

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