Athletic Bilbao celebrate Copa del Rey triumph with awesome boat parade

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Athletic Bilbao celebrate Copa del Rey triumph with awesome boat parade
Photo: @AthleticClub

Hundreds of thousands of Athletic Bilbao fans lined the banks of the Nervión River on Thursday to celebrate their Copa del Rey trophy in classic Bilbao fashion.

Athletic ended a 40-year wait for a major trophy last Saturday when they beat Real Mallorca on penalties in the Copa del Rey final in Seville.

Their first honour in almost half a century was a momentous moment for the city of Bilbao and subject to an immense celebration on Thursday.

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The La Liga club traditionally celebrate trophy wins by taking a traditional barge, which called La Gabarra, along the city's Nervión River, which passes through the centre of Bilbao.

The Bilbao barge was followed by several other vessels filled with supporters, who had paid between €250 and €3000 to join the parade.

One of the boats was steered by Barcelona defender Iñigo Martinez, who left Athletic in 2023 to join the Catalan club.

Supporters lined both banks of the river and crammed into every nook, including on the balconies dotted around every street, and waved flags and scarves.

The journey stretched 13km and stretched from the town of Getxo to the very heart of the sprawling de-facto Basque capital, where the players disembarked at the Town Hall for more festivities.

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Schools in the city had shut early to enable supporters of all ages to soak up Athletic's biggest celebrations in four decades, and it was estimated that over a million people were set to attend.

The Basque club's last major trophies came in 1984, when they won a La Liga and Copa Del Rey double, which followed on from league success in 1983.

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