GIANLUCA SIMEONE

“I never saw Dad play... I'm told he was a bit of a hard case!”

Gianluca is the middle of El Cholo's three sons. He's 17 years old and a striker. His father calls him and his brothers after every Atlético game.

“I never saw Dad play... I'm told he was a bit of a hard case!”
GUSTAVO ORTIZ DIARIO AS

Atlético beat Bayern in Munich and the first thing your Dad did was call you... what did he say?

He always calls us after a game - he's done that since he's lived abroad. What did he say? The same as always - that he loves us a lot and that the team has taken a big step but hasn't won anything yet.

What was it like for you to see Atleti eliminate Bayern? Are you excited by the chance for Atleti to get their revenge for the Lisbon final?

Yes, very. We weren't afriad of Bayern and we do want to get our revenge for the final against Madrid.

At what age did you decide you wanted to become a footballer?

Let me see, I started kicking a ball about when I was 5 or 6. We were living in Buenos Aires and Dad was playing for Racing. But when I started playing in River Plate's football school, I got bitten by the football bug. I was about 13 or 14 and by then I knew I wanted to be a footballer.

You are a centre-forward, how come you didn't pick the same position as your father?

I started playing when I was 5, like Dad. But once I had seen my brother (Gio) who was 9, I decided to give it a try and I've played there ever since (laughs).

Being Simeone's son must have its drawbacks?

Dad was coaching River and Gio and me were already in the youth teams. At the beginning it was a bit of a weight on us. They'd say things like: “You're only playing because you're so-and-so's son”. It wasn't easy, but with time you get used to it.

How woul you describe yourself as a player?

I'm a standard number 9 - a box player, I don't move around too much from there. I'm a fighter and quite good in the air. I'm working a lot on my game with my back to goal. I'm a huge fan of Diego Costa. I love him, I always watch him and study his moves - every game.

Have you got a few tattoos now?

No. Just one - the three Gs - the letter of my name and my brothers.

Do you miss your Dad?

Yes, a lot. Having Dad so far away, in Spain, is horrible. At the start it was even worse. It's always difficult and you always miss him. Although we try to make sure we're always in contact - we're always chatting on Skype.

Between training sessions and school do you get time to watch Atlético?

Yes. I never miss a game. The Barcelona game was beautiful. It almost made me cry.

Are you surprise by what your Dad is achieving? He must be an inspiration to you?

Everything that Dad achieves is wonderful. I never saw him as a player. I'm told that he was a bit of a hrad case! (laughs). Now I enjoy his achievements as a coach. I know how hard he has fought to get where he is and he is an example for me.

Would you like your Dad to coach you?

I hope so. But I also think it would be very tough: my old man's very demanding you know! him and  Profe... they'll kill you! (laughs).

At home do you talk about anything other than football?

To be honest - no, not really. It's impossible not to talk about football in our house. When one of us is arguing we gesture showing a yellow card. If someone falls over, we all shout: “Penalty!”. We're all a bit football mad really. And we are always talking about football. It's a common interest.

What is your happiest memory of Atlético?

When Dad quit playing. I remember the four of us doing a lap of the pitch and all of the fans were chanting: “Ole, ole, ole, Cholo Simeone”. Blimey... Every time I go back to the Calderón and hear that song I get goosebumps. All three of us are masive, massive Atleti fans. I'd even go as far as saying we're a bit mental about Atleti, and River too.

What is it that you like most about Atleti?

The big heart that the team has, their determination. They give everything, and overcome anything. They never let their heads drop. They're incredible.

What's your big dream?

To make River's first team. I'm a big River fan. But my big dream is to play for Atlético de Madrid one day.