Atlético de Madrid: Simeone’s ten years: “With his arrival God came to see us” | sports


On December 23, 2011, Atlético de Madrid announced the hiring of Diego Pablo Simeone (Buenos Aires, 51 years old) as coach. The team, under the leadership of Gregorio Manzano, had distanced itself from the head of the League and had been eliminated from the Cup by Albacete, then in Second Division B. The social mass was very angry with the leadership and there had been demonstrations asking for his departure from the club. “I always knew that they would call me in a difficult moment,” he said. At that time, the most recent history of the club, which was a crusher of coaches, did not invite us to think that Simeone would serve a decade on the rojiblanco bench. His arrival occurred with the tiki-taka Barcelona and the Spanish team as a paradigm of world football. Cholo arrived with the opposite recipe, at the same time that he promised to recover the club’s historic hallmarks: “The effort is not negotiated, backlash and once again being an uncomfortable team.” Ten years later, these objectives can be considered fulfilled. He won two Leagues, two European Leagues, a Copa del Rey, two European Super Cups and one in Spain. Eight titles to which he could have added two Champions, had he not lost the finals in Lisbon and Milan with Real Madrid. In both he was very close to giving Atlético its long-awaited first European Cup. In those he is, in a season in which for the first time in ten years he has lost four consecutive league games. During this time he has shared good and bad moments with characters that in one way or another have been significant in his career as coach of Atlético. They all highlight their passion and their competitive character.

The leader who signed him: Miguel Ángel Gil

”The first contact I had with him was on a trip to Argentina. He had come for other reasons, but I went over to see him. I think he was at Racing and we had a talk before a game, in a kind of covered room where his players were warming up. That day, half jokingly, half seriously, I already told him that I was going to train Atlético. For that season, 11-12, we had an agreement with Luis Enrique. We had dinner at his house with his wife and Luis said yes, but only if Roma was not bought by American investors. In that case, he had reached an agreement with Franco Baldini and he told me that he had given him his word. The Americans bought and Luis Enrique is a man of his word. When it was cut short, I spoke with José Luis Pérez Caminero, I was a bit deflated by Luis Enrique and I told him to find a coach and he chose Manzano, who was returning. In October, I already saw that the team was not going well and I got in touch with Toni Muñoz, who was close to Diego. Toni contacted him and told him that he would have no problem returning, but that he should finish with Racing. In mid-November, Diego came to a home game, we talked about the squad and closed the deal. That day God came to see us both because of what happened later. I am left with the stability it has given us and all the growth it has brought to the club ”.

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“After the final in Milan it was the hardest moment. He and we were all very screwed up by what had happened, two lost Champions League finals with Madrid. In the press room he said that he had to think, he wanted to know if he would have the strength to reinvent ourselves and regain the illusion. I know him a lot, he is very passionate, I gave him distance and two weeks later I got in touch with his sister Natalia [su representante] because I had to plan the season. We met in Buenos Aires and we solved it. I have never negotiated a euro with Diego, it has always been with his sister. Ten years later I see him with the same passion. Soccer is results, but I am not asking it to win Leagues, only that the team compete. The day that doesn’t happen, the two of us will talk ”.

The son: Giovanni Simeone

“When my father arrived at Atlético, when I was 16 years old, the truth is that I did not see what coach he could become, but who he was at that time and what we were experiencing. My dad was leaving and I was very happy with where he was because he was joining a great team. We just enjoyed the moment that was happening. I did not know then how far it could go because we never imagined the future, we always lived in the present and enjoyed the moment, and it continued to be so until today. More than a specific anecdote, there is something that I think shows his and our relationship with football. They are the comments we have about football all the time for life. When we are together and one is walking in the street and falls, my old man or my brothers look at each other and say foul, or “what a kick they hit him” … Many moments that you can see that we have the theme of football very much inside of us. Or when a brother argues with the woman and we say ‘uhhh they turned you yellow …’. All derived from football continuously ”.

The friend: Gustavo López

“As a friend I knew that Atlético was their natural habitat. I always imagined that at some point the paths would cross due to the identification he had as a player and the way he understands the Atlético fans. Diego loves challenges and the greater the challenge, the more it grows. He is a born winner, he understands perfectly what is at stake. In these ten years there are more joys than sadness. He took a decimated team, which was devaluing itself and revalued the footballers, the team and the club by winning titles. In defeat you need 24 to 48 hours of mourning, you need to think and analyze, but always with one goal, which is to bring out the positive and correct the negative. To describe what he is, I always tell you that, after a game that we won against Bolivia and qualified for the 2002 World Cup, I went to Jamaica on my honeymoon because I couldn’t leave before. He came with his family and Zanetti’s and the first day he called me at eight in the morning so that the three of us could go running. That’s how he is, he doesn’t understand anything other than training and playing ”.

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The Praetorian: Filipe Luis

“The first training sessions were incredible, especially in terms of concepts. He made it very clear what his idea was, how he wanted the team to defend on the field, how the coverage worked or how to make sure they did not make us against. They were very intense workouts, in everything he did he put his finger. Even in the warm-ups, which are always boring, he was even aware of how we moved our feet and that caught my attention. He encouraged internal competition a lot, I with Antonio López, Miranda with Domínguez, Tiago with Mario Suárez … I was also struck by how he corrected everything in defense and made us feel that together we were not conceding goals. I was even removing players, first ten against six, ten against five, ten against four and we didn’t fit in. He gave us a defensive masterclass and I continue to play like this. He is the best coach in the history of Atlético and one of the three best in Spain because it is not easy at all to be among the elite in a team like Atlético for ten years in a row. I am very proud to have been someone in Cholo’s life. For me and for 95% of the players who have been there, it is like a father, he is more than a friend, he is someone who has marked me on and off the field because he has not only taught me to play, but also values ​​of life ”.

A substitute: Moyà

“When I arrived at Atlético I was a starter in the Super Cup and we won it, and it kept me in the League. When the Champions League came, he gave Oblak the first game and things didn’t go well for Jan. In the league I played again and then I got injured for a month. There were Cup, League and Champions matches, and Jan did very well. For the same reason that when he chose me I did not say anything, nor was I going to ask him for an explanation for not playing. All things being equal, for the price that had been paid for it, it is normal for the owner to be Oblak, who then has reached where he has arrived. Cholo was not a coach to give explanations, he did not give them to me and I did not ask for them. In the training sessions he demands the most is those who do not play because he says that his maximum responsibility is to train the player ”.

The coaches he faced the most: Valverde and Mendilibar

Valverde: “We prepared the matches always thinking that they were going to be long and that they should never be closed before time, neither for better nor for worse. And mentalize the team to fight against the feeling of impregnability that they transmitted, with the data in hand. It was difficult to create goal situations for them, but it could be done. And fundamental to close its cons that were terrible, either by pressing fast or going back, but it was very difficult. In the end they always managed to make counterattacks that caught you badly. Tough, rough matches, full of competitiveness with both Athletic and Barça. Simeone has taken Atlético to a different level of competitiveness and resilience. When it seems that he is almost finished he gets the best versions of himself. Like this year in Champions. It is impossible to consider Atlético for dead in any competition. In the two leagues that we got at Barça, he was our hardest pursuer, it was impossible to get rid of him, he was always there, until the end. It is admirable”.

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Mendilibar: “I didn’t know that after Valverde he was the coach Cholo had faced the most. I don’t think he beat him many times. When it was my turn to play against him, I would tell my players that we were playing against a big team that played like a small one because of the work they did until the last minute. You could go 0-0 in 85 and Diego did not lose his peace of mind, you could see the wisdom that you will not win by going faster. Now they are losing in the last minutes, but they have won a lot of games like that. Suddenly, they would get behind you, it seemed that you had dominated them, but then they would take counter-blows or they began to press you up and you would not come out. I told my players that they don’t give you anything, that you have to be as bastards as they are in disputes because they don’t forgive you one and that they couldn’t be trusted because we dominated them for ten minutes. He has never given much importance to possession. There have been moments that seemed like he was going to change, especially in the preseason, but then, little by little, he got back to his thing. You will never do something you don’t believe in. At the beginning I was very struck by the fact that he ran away at the end of the matches. I thought: ‘this bastard beats me and runs away’, but then you get to know him. In the band he is very respectful with the rival and with the opponents and with the referee, even if he claims. I think he kills them by shutting up, because a bit of a motherfucker must be [RISAS]”.

The myth: Adelardo

“Diego is no different as a coach than he was as a player because of how he lives the games. I see his tension on the bench and I think that one day he will give him something. What he has achieved, that way of hooking the stands, already tells you everything. I have always said that it is the team that has to encourage the public and they have achieved this by transmitting what Atlético is. For a club it is good to have references who maintain their identity. It is a symbol and his players must know that Diego is like a father, who is aware of them, but whom they have to obey ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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