NYCFC loses another piece, as Athletic Bilbao legend Iraola retires

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New York City FC will look much different next season, with versatile veteran Andoni Iraola joining Frank Lampard as players departing the second-year club.

Iraola, 34, is retiring from playing altogether after 38 matches with 33 starts for NYCFC since last season. He had an assist in each season, and moved from back to defensive mid for most of this season.

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NYCFC director Claudio Reyna called Iraola “the type of human being” they want at the club, while head coach Patrick Vieira gave praise to Iraola’s leadership.

From NYCFC.com:

“I was aware of his talents when he played in La Liga with Athletic but to have worked in close quarters over the past year has given me an even greater appreciation for what he brings to his team.

“Andoni always led by example and set the tone for some of our best victories this year – all of the guys love him and we will miss him a lot.”

An Athletic Bilbao hero, Iraola made more than 500 appearances for the La Liga club. He earned seven caps for Spain.

With Lampard and Iraola leaving, and Andrea Pirlo’s contract set to expire on New Year’s Eve, NYCFC is going to be absent some of its most recognizable names.