Gorka Santamaria We (Bilbao, 7/3/1995) arrived at Deportivo this summer after his excellent season at Badajoz in which he scored 15 goals. Trained in Lezama and with two footballer brothers, he decided to leave Athletic and go down to Segunda B after playing 50 games in the silver category to “take a small step back and gain momentum”. A classic center forward, he assures that he has “matured, now I understand the game very well”. He sees Deportivo, which he sees “as the best place to move up and play in the Second Division”. He acknowledges that the team still needs to “connect” but he does not doubt his teammates and project.
Have they already chewed the tie at home?
We are working on the mistakes we made in the game because we want to be protagonists. We are qualifying things and preparing for the next game.
They have seven points out of nine, but the sensations are not very good…
It is true that we have to give more in terms of the game, we are not finding the version we want. If with this we have taken seven out of nine, as soon as the good version of Depor appears, the victories will come with assiduity.
Do you perceive a lot of nerves even though there are three games going?
Depor must have the maximum demand and the public asks for it. It’s very early, there’s a lot left and there are a lot of new people. We are connecting to improve.
Is there so much problem with the strategy and the lateral centers when it comes to defending?
I do not think so. I don’t think we’re going to be a team that loses on strategic goals or that we’re going to concede a lot of goals from set pieces. You have to be calm, they are punctual errors.
Do you think the team defending well?
Yes. I, as an attacker, in the training actions we have, can say that few teammates have defended me as well as here. I am very calm.
In three games, three ‘nines’. You, Kuki Zalazar and Quiles.
The coach studies the rivals very well and looks for the striker profile that he considers best. The template is wide, there is a choice and that allows you to rotate.
The strikers haven’t scored a goal and have hardly shot on goal, but it’s also true that balls aren’t arriving to finish off…
In the first game I didn’t have chances and in the second, neither. Against Pontevedra I had one but I was not successful in the shot. It is true that we are not having many chances, it may also be that when the ball arrives in good condition we are not in the right place. I’m not overly concerned. In preseason we have scored goals and the second line put good balls. It’s a matter of time and getting to know each other better. Kuki arrived recently, Max Svensson the same…
Why is so little generated?
We are a team that arrives many times from the outside, but if you arrive seven times you cannot score six, you would always win 6-0. We have very good centrers, people outside of a very high level. Antoñito, Trilli, Raúl, Narro, Rubén who can play outside, Kuki, Quiles… They are people who have a lot of center and even goals as well. You have to be calm. They are punctual errors and we are going to improve it.
In preseason he was seen very comfortable and coupled with Quiles…
With the good ones you understand easily. Quiles is a great player and in preseason we understood each other very well. The coach knows us, he knows our characteristics and how we move. He will use us when it suits the team.
Last year he scored 15 goals, but did not score his first until matchday six. Do you have to have a little patience with everything?
Yes I think so. Unfortunately I am a player in the beginning of the league I do not participate so much, that I usually get the form more slowly. But I’m taking it and I feel fine. I’m calm and of course I like to score every day, but I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself.
Do you think it was your best year?
I have been three seasons in Badajoz and the first one was also very good. He had ten goals and there were ten games left, but the pandemic came, it devastated everything and it came to a standstill. Last year was very nice, I felt at home, very comfortable and happy with my family. I think that is the basis. It is true that I have been maturing a lot in terms of my game, I get to know myself better and better. I try to cover my defects and exploit my virtues. That is what has made me come to this club, which is from the First Division. I am very happy since I have arrived and I am going to try to do the same or even improve it.
The Depor fans loved the signing of Gorka…
Knowing that the fans had been excited about me was very gratifying. I have the same illusion, it is something mutual. I’m going to try to return that affection based on work and goals.
Is there a number of goals scored for this season?
I don’t like to put numbers on myself, as much as possible. Of course I’d love to beat last year’s 15… scoring last year’s goals and moving up, I’m satisfied.
What do you think you can improve as a striker?
I have to improve in some phases of the match in which I do not participate or do not have a leading role. I like to squeeze and defend, but without getting desperate. I don’t have to go crazy and leave the games for a bit. I have to polish that, if the balls don’t reach the area I can get desperate, make gestures with my arms, which is for me, not for my teammates… Over the years I have been achieving that patience and knowing how to be in the field that I didn’t have before. Now I think I understand the game very well.
The next challenge is Celta B, a special match in which Depor has little to gain and much to lose…
We are calm and we know that for the fans it is very special. We are going to give up our lives to get the three points. We know what we have to do to beat them and we go with the knife between our teeth.
Last year the Balaídos match ended in a field invasion. Have they told you anything about this in the locker room?
I know something, but what happened last year stays there. We are going to try to beat them and hopefully there will be no episode of violence.
After the derby there will be two games on Wednesday and Sunday at the Riazor. Is it a key week to take off?
It’s a very important week with three games. Against our people we have to get as many points as possible. If we win this Saturday in Vigo and then we manage to function well at home, it’s good for us. We would approach the upper area and take points from those behind.
His career is unusual. He played very young in Second Division and left after Athletic to go down to Second Division B. What happened?
I played 50 games in the Second Division in two years. The second I went on loan to Cádiz and I didn’t have the opportunities I would have liked. I did not want to wait too long and decided to take a little step back to gain momentum. Entering the wheel of Second is very difficult and I am clear that to get to Second I have to move up with a team and Depor is the best place in the category to achieve it. And here I am, with much desire and illusion.
Playing for Athletic and being from Bilbao, did it cost you a lot to decide to leave Lezama?
Yes, it did cost. She had been there for many years, from fingerlings. You are at home and in the club of your life, but Lezama is not everything. There you are in a bubble, you have everything at hand and you don’t lack anything. But once you get out you get to know the real world, real football. When one door closes, many others open.
You have soccer brothers, one of them is your twin. Did any of them get involved when they were young with being twins?
(Laughter…). Yes, yes, we did some. I remember one in the lower categories of Athletic due to a communication error. We were at the break and the coach, instead of calling me Gorka, called me Ander out of confusion. He sent my brother to the shower when I was supposed to go. In the end I had to play center back and they even bandaged my hand because my brother had one. It was a trick; I also think it was a friendly. It was a funny story.
And how about central?
I liked it because I had never played central. I felt very well and it was a very good experience. In lower categories Athletic is not attacked excessively. Of course, I remember that it was a very rainy day and I wanted to go to the shower like my brother.
Did you coincide with Ibai when you went up to some first team training?
Yes, when Marcelo Bielsa was coach. We went up practically every week to train with them. It was amazing, also with the state of form that team was in, it was brutal. I learned a lot from Bielsa, from his way of training, from dealing with the player… When they call him ‘el loco’ you know why they do it, you understand.
Is he the most different coach you have ever met?
I didn’t experience it as closely as Ibai because I was in the reserve team, but he has amazing football concepts. He has supernatural intelligence and, game-wise, he is unlike everyone else.
Did the signing of Ibai surprise you?
Yes, it shocked me. I always thought that Ibai would sign for a First Division team or perhaps a powerful Second Division team. He is very ambitious, he is not afraid of anything and has come to a winning team, which aspires to return to professional football and everything. A very brave bet on his part and it will surely work out for him.
As with his goals and the team’s play, be patient with him…
Yes, it had been standing for a long time. He is starting to feel like a footballer again and now it’s acclimatizing, taking minutes and feeling.