FORMER Athletic Club captain and current AFC Bournemouth head coach Andoni Iraola spoke of his pride after the Basque team lifted the Copa del Rey – and how he hopes to secure glory for Cherries.

Athletic Club defeated Real Mallorca on penalties in the final of the Copa del Rey on Saturday, April 6, their first triumph in the competition since 1984.

Last week around a million people lined up along the banks of the Nervion river in Bilbao to see their team parade their first major trophy in 40 years on La Gabarra, a barge used specifically for Athletic’s celebrations.

Iraola made 510 appearances across 12 seasons for his boyhood team, captaining the side to numerous finals without winning a major trophy.

He reached the final of the Copa del Rey on three occasions, as well as the Europa League final in 2012.

Asked if he caught the game, Iraola told the Daily Echo: “I was watching, I enjoyed it.

“I won’t tell you how I was watching because it is impossible to say here, but I was watching!

“Definitely for me it is a big, big, big win.

“It's something that we've been trying to achieve for years now. I also missed that.

“I was watching all the celebrations.

“I still have some teammates that are in the team and obviously the manager (Ernesto Valverde) has been a very, very important person in my career and I am really happy that this group of players and a lot of people that I know from the club has given us the chance to be champions again.”

Asked if he felt more nervous watching on as a fan or as a player, the Basque boss continued: “It was difficult.

“When you play, you are focused on your thing, on your duels.

“When you're watching from the outside, there's nothing with you. You cannot help. You cannot do anything.

“But especially it was a quite tense game because we started losing, then the penalties at the end.

"And this time, after a lot of losses in the finals, finally they could win it.

“1 million people were celebrating. They were there watching the gabarra, the ship that they use.

“It's a really, really, really big club.

“Probably they haven't been in the last years as successful as they were in the past century.

“But it is my club. I'm very proud. I cannot be the most objective, but it is a special club.”

Asked if he could take inspiration from his former club to his role at Cherries, Iraola responded: “Yes, but this is very difficult.

“Even they are really good, they are top, top, top players and it has taken us forty years to win a cup.

“It is not just one year. You have to get close.

“We've lost, I don't know, five, six finals before this. So you have to go to the semi-finals one year, then live the experience.

“You are ready next year to be closer.

“When you are there, probably you are not so nervous.

“I think there is a process there and, I hope we can continue, and get closer to these things.”