Finland, Estonia, and now ... Lithuania
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Elgoibartarra Mikel Gurrutxaga started a new adventure in international soccer last weekend. The 24-year-old defender is back to pack to travel to the Baltic states and, more specifically, to Lithuania. Gurrutxaga has signed with FK Süduva, a team based in Marijanpolé, a town of 35,000 inhabitants located 160 kilometers from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and close to the border with Poland.
FK Süduva made his debut with A Lyga, the name for which the Lithuanian league is best known, last weekend with a 1–0 loss to FK Panevézys. Gorotxaga, who arrived in Lithuania two days earlier, had no chance to play, but the coach of the Lithuanian team, the Galician team Victor Passadri, chose to include him in the team. In addition to Basadre, the Lithuanian squad includes players from Spain, Asturian Nacho Cases, a former Sporting de Gijón player, and Lazkaotarra Xabi Auzmendi, a player who trained in the lower classes of Real Sociedad.
Footballer Elgoibartarra began his journey across the Baltic territory in 2018, defending the colors of JS Hercules, the third division team of the Finnish League. The following season, he jumped to Estonia after signing for two seasons with Paide Linnameeskond.
The experience was very positive during the first season, but it was twisted in its second year, after a series of contradictions with the club and especially the technical direction. “They made me play with the reserve team, and at some point they separated me from the team. The truth is that it was not good to live in this situation, but I consider it another experience that deserves me in the future.”
In fact, the difficult situation he had to live in did not prevent him from carrying his bags and embarking on a new adventure in Lithuania. “For me it is an unbeatable experience. “I do what I want: I travel, I play football, which I love, and I also take the opportunity to learn about other cultures.”
Süduva is living a true golden age. He won the A Lyga title for the first time in 2017, and was unhappy with her, as he was declared champion for the next two seasons. The team scored again at a high level in the 2020 campaign but eventually had to settle for the runners-up.
The team for which Gurrutxaga signed is a regular in European competitions. He has participated in several Europa League editions, and will return this year after finishing second in A Lyga in 2020. In addition, he has participated in three previous stages of the UEFA Champions League as league champion. He made his debut in the European Football League First Division in the 2018-2019 season. They beat APOEL from Nicosia and fell to Red Star Belgrade, prompting them to play the European League. After overcoming the first tie against FK Spartak Jurmala, they fell in the second against Celtic Glasgow.
The Red Star crossed his way again in the Champions League qualifying stage for the 2019-2020 season. As in the previous season, it was the Serbian team that won the ticket for the next stage, while Sudova had to play in the Europa League qualifiers. The Lithuanians settled the first two challenges, eliminating Ter Benny and Maccabi of Tel Aviv, but were eliminated by Ferencvaros.
Last season, Sudova FC Flora was eliminated from Tallinn in the Champions League qualifying round. He was unlucky in the second round, in which he met McCabe again. The Israeli team won a draw and forced the Lithuanian team to start a new and brief adventure in the European League that ended with its elimination at the hands of Finnish Kopps Kuopio.