Some of you with long enough memories will remember Aitor Arregui as a player for VIllarreal—he also played with Alavès, Eibar and Elche, and was a part of the team that won promotion to the Primera in 1998.
Aitor is best know these days as the head of a fine restaurant, Elkano, in the Basque Country. His father founded the restaurant in 1964, and Aitor came back to work there after he hung up his boots in 2002. Elkano won a Michelin star in 2014, which it still has today.
In an interview this summer Aitor stated that of all his former clubs, he’s closest to Villarreal--and in fact he and his staff have provided the end-of-season banquet fare four times now, bringing everything with them to VIla-real, including their famous turbot and specially-designed grills to grill it.
In that interview he also commented that Villarreal’s 1998 promotion in Santiago de Compostela was far more meaningful than being awarded a Michelin star—the first was an achievement and long struggle of a group that was rewarded on the field, the other is a recognition of a guide (he commented he goes from table to table to ask people’s opinions, which to him is far more important). I guess we weren’t expecting to win in Compostela though—he said he remembered after we won we only had water and energy drinks in the dressing room, no champagne!!
At any rate. Our friends from Athletic Bilbao’s California-based supporters group took a trip to the Basque country, stopped by Elkano, and presented Aitor with a Villarreal USA scarf on our behalf. Aitor says he hopes we can visit him soon!