Ten players who will play in the upcoming Cup finals at La Cartuja have in common having participated in the Donosti Cup!
Zaldua, Sangalli, Zubimendi, Barrenetexea y Merquelanz with the Real Sociedad, Yuri, Unai López and Nolaskoain with the Athletic Club and Alba and Busquets with the FC Barcelona
August 15, 1992. Beraun Stadium. Seven o'clock in the evening. After the parade of the teams and the aurresku dance, Iñaki Alkiza, Real Sociedad president that time, did the kick-off of the match that the young category teams of Real Sociedad and Athletic Club were going to play against each other and that would open the Donosti Cup officially. From that moment on, Real Sociedad and Athletic Club, which will play the long-awaited Cup final on April 3, occupy a prominent place in the history of the Donosti Cup. At that first edition, in addition, Real Sociedad, captained by Aitor Lopez Rekarte, was proclaimed champion of the youth category, inscribing its name in gold letters in the Tournament's winners list. Therefore, the two Basque clubs that will soon play the Cup final in Seville have a historical relationship with the Donosti Cup. But there is also another circumstance, in the current squads of the two finalist clubs, up to eight players, five from Real and three from Athletic have in common to have participated in some of the editions of the Donosti Cup and even to have won it.
Real Sociedad is the club that has in its current squad more players who a few years ago stood out in the Donosti Cup. This is the case of the wing Joseba Zaldua who participated with Añorga KKE in 2003 and 2004 before signing for Real; Luca Sangalli who did it in 2005 with Aldapeta, or Martin Merquelanz, Ander Barrenetxea and Martin Zubimendi who participated in several editions from 2006 to 2013 with Antiguoko KE. Luca Sangalli remembers above all how enriching was to share experiences with players from other countries and other cultures. Luca also remembers with special emotion when he played against an Italian team from his hometown: "I remember very well when the team from my Italian town came; it was very nice because I had the opportunity to share a week with them in San Sebastian". He regrets not having been able to enjoy the experience for more years, but it was for a good reason. As a child, Real knocked on his door and he became a member of the club. Zubimendi won the tournament in 2012 after beating Salvador de Bahia, a Brazilian club in the final. The year after, he was runner-up in the infant category. Merquelanz also knows what it means to win the Donosti Cup: "not only have I played in several editions; we won it twice. The first one, with Antiguoko and the second with a team made up of players from different clubs in Donosti. I also remember scoring a goal in the final at the Anoeta stadium". Ander Barrenetxea is the most recent Donosti Cup champion. "It was in 2013, when I was 12 years old and just before signing for Real. We played the final at the Small Stadium of Anoeta, my team got the cup at the stadium and it was incredible." These five players belong to a long list of txuriurdin players who began standing out in the Donosti Cup: Aitor Lopez Rekarte, Aldeondo, Xabi Alonso, Mikel Alonso, Mikel Arteta, Iñigo Diaz de Cerio, Rubén Pardo, Zurutuza, Mikel Gonzalez or Xabi Prieto among others.
In the current Athletic squad, there are also three players who participated as young players in the Donosti Cup. This is the case of Yuri Berchiche and Unai López who did it in 2003 and 2004 with Antiguoko, or Peru Nolaskoain who played in 2015 with Zumaiako. Yuri and Unai were also proclaimed champions of the tournament. Yuri in 2013 in the beginner category and Unai the same year in the benjamin category playing in the same team as Merquelanz.
It so happens that the Cup final that will face Athletic and FC Barcelona a week later will also be linked to the Donosti Cup. On the one hand, Barça participated in two editions of the tournament, and on the other hand, the World Cup winners Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets won the Donosti Cup. The wing back in the youth category in 2021 with Barcelona and the midfielder in 2004 with the Catalan club Jabac Can Jofresa.
That is why the memories of the Donosti Cup will be present in a symbolic way in the two finals that will be played soon in La Cartuja. In the words of the director of the tournament, Iñigo Olaizola, "it is a great pride that the three finalist clubs of the Cup have participated in the Donosti Cup and that up to ten players with a past in our tournament are going to live a historic event like this. For the younger players, this is an example to follow and a clear message that with hard work and a lot of effort you can aspire to everything