New York City FC Sign Veteran Defender Andoni Iraola

Andoni Iraola tackling Marcelo

NEW YORK | New York City FC has signed defender Andoni Iraola from Athletic Bilbao.

Iraola joins on a free transfer and will be eligible for selection following the opening of the Major League Soccer secondary transfer window on July 8 pending receipt of his P1 Visa and a physical.

“I have only played for one club throughout my whole career and I knew after leaving Bilbao my first choice was always to play in the U.S. and in New York,” Iraola said. “It’s a very exciting opportunity for me to join New York City FC in our inaugural season. This is a team with huge potential, passionate supporters, and I really wanted to be part of it.

“For me it will be very nice playing with David Villa. We’ve crossed paths on the national team, we have played against each other many times but being able to play with him in the league and fight together is extra motivation for me.

“New York seems like the most suitable place for me to continue my career, it’s a great city and I’m already wishing I was there training with my new teammates.”

Iraola, 32, made 510 appearances (406 league) with 38 goals for Bilbao over the past 12 seasons. The Basque right back has been a constant in the team, appearing in 30 or more league matches in 11 seasons with a career-high 38 in 2005-06.

“I think it’s fantastic to be able to add a player with that much experience and quality at a critical time of the season,” New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis said. “We are adding a versatile player like Andoni who is comfortable playing in a number of different positions within the team. We are adding a great professional and a very experienced player.”

Iraola made his first-team debut for Bilbao as a 21-year-old against Barcelona in 2003 and went on to have a fantastic La Liga career while earning seven caps for Spain from 2008-11.

“We look forward to having Andoni at the club,” New York City FC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said.   “His level of professionalism and humility is exactly what we want to have at New York City FC. His experience playing at the highest level will be a great influence to the younger members of the squad.

“He’s not going to wear the captain’s armband, but essentially we’re adding another captain to the team.”

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