Our very own Marco Ruiz had a long chat with Diego Simeone, the result of which is a fascinating interview. The hero of this current great period for Atlético Madrid (arguably the best in the club's history if we're allowed to compare it with others) ended up collapsing in Milan, after a second Champions League final loss to Real Madrid. On top of that terrible disappointment, he was made an offer that gave him 'thirty five million reasons' to leave Atlético. He stayed because he had a contract he was committed to, which, by the way, the club was forced to shorten and improve. But once the bothersome reconciliation was over, he resumed his task of paddling the Atlético boat upstream.
Simeone is the heartbeat of Atleti
We must remember it has already been five and a half years since he became the coach of Atlético Madrid. An extraordinary case in the world of competitive football, in which I don't include Arsenal, as you will understand, where Wenger has achieved the rare privilege of being accepted as the manager of the future far beyond the time when that future was already in the past. Simeone's unique merit is that he has been the heartbeat of the club for almost six years where, before he came in, they regularly fell to pieces, but now they feel the obligation to be back where they belong: among the best in Europe, pestering Real Madrid and Barça in Spain. That's the pressure Simeone deals with.
Simeone: loyalty, fairness and legends
It takes its toll, that's obvious, and he admits it. After these years at the club it's clear he's caught between the loyalty he has to those from the first phase (Juanfran, Godín, Luis Filipe, Gabi, Koke...), those who have since appeared (Vrsaljko, Lucas, Giménez, Savic, Griezmann, Carrasco...) and El Niño Torres, who brought 50,000 fans out for his return. A legend, more than just a player. This is where Simeone is now, between the loyalty for those who have accompanied him all these years, the fairness demanded by those who have joined him on the journey and the consideration that all legends deserve. That, plus the historical requirement to be up there with Real Madrid and Barca, or at least close. And so he carries on, paddling upstream...