‘Howay the Lads!’ Newcastle United sent classy Champions League message by La Liga club

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Newcastle United are back in the Champions League following a 20-year absence.

La Liga side Athletic Bilbao have congratulated Newcastle United on qualifying for next season’s Champions League. Following a 20-year absence, the Magpies confirmed their return to Europe’s elite after last night’s goalless draw against Leicester City at St James’ Park.

Almost 30 years ago, Newcastle played Bilbao in the UEFA Cup over two legs, and although the Spanish outfit progressed on away goals, a special relationship had emerged. Indeed, that was cemented in 2001 when Newcastle legend Rob Lee selected the Basque club as the opposition for his testimonial.

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Twenty-one years had passed before the two sides met again, with Bilbao the visitors to St James’ Park in July. And from then, the bond has reignited, with Athletic Club president Jon Uriarte classily presenting Wor Flags with a flag that displays the crests of both clubs.

The Magpies supporters group, of course, returned the favour, displaying a banner in the East Stand that read ‘Ongi Etorri, Lehoiak’, translating as ‘Welcome Lions’.

With that in mind, Bilbao were among the first to congratulate Newcastle on their achievement by tweeting: “Zorionak [congratulatins], @NUFC Congratulations on qualifying for the @ChampionsLeague, Magpies! It’s well deserved! Howay the Lads!”.

Unfortunately, Bilbao won’t be joining Eddie Howe’s side in the Champions League next year, though Ernesto Valverde are challenging for a Europa League and Europa Conference League spot.

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