Founded in 1898, Athletic Club, also referred to as Athletic Bilbao, are historically one of Spain's biggest clubs. This is demonstrated by the fact that they are one of only three teams to have never been relegated from La Liga, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The team is well known for its official policy of only signing players born in the Basque region of Spain and France. This policy has been somewhat relaxed in recent years, with the club now accepting players trained in the region from a young age or those with Basque heritage who were born outside of the greater Basque country. This policy has divided opinion within the sport, with some praising the policy as a commendable dedication to nurturing local talent and others describing it as xenophobic.
The club's biggest period of success came in the late 1920s and early 1930s. During this time, the club won four La Liga titles and also lifted the Copa Del Rey on four occasions as well. Another period of success began in the 1980s, under the management of Javier Clemente. In 1982–83, Clemente guided the club to the La Liga title and the following season he successfully defended the title and won the Copa Del Rey, completing the double. In total, Athletic Club have won eight La Liga titles and 23 Copa Del Rey trophies. Since 2011, the club has been managed by the unique Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa.
Noteable footballers to have represented Athletic Bilbao over the years include Telmo Zarra, who scored 333 goals for the club; Bata, who helped the club to win eight major trophies; Joseba Etxeberria, a former Spanish international and Bixente Lizarazu, the first French-born player to represent the club.
Home matches have been played at Estadio San Mamés, nicknamed The Cathedral, since 1913. It is Spain's oldest stadium and has a capacity of 40,000. However, the club is planning to move into a new stadium in 2013, after which the current stadium will be demolished.