Diego Simeone faced reporters from the Vicente Calderón press room for the penultimate time on Saturday as his side prepare to bid the stadium a fond farewell in tomorrow's meeting with Athletic Club - the final game of the season and the last to be played by the Manzanares, as the Rojiblancos ready themselves to move to their new ground ahead of next season. The team trained at the ground for the final time this morning.
Simeone's golden memories of the Calderón
Saying goodbye to the Calderón: "My memories as a player are fantastic. Almost instantly after arriving, I discovered that the people unconditionally accepted me long before I had a chance to give anything to the club or the team. The first season was very tough. I have great memories of Don Jesús [Gil], he was a great man. We argued quite a lot, we had our differences and we fought - but always directly, never sneakily and I like that in people. My season second season was one of the most important ones in the history of the club - we did a league and Cup double. I'll always remember that goal against Albacete - one of my best memories. In my mind's eye I can still see the ball coming in from the right and I sent it inside the left post.... That put us on our way to an achievement we hadn't come close to in 25 years. It was possibly the highest point of my playing career. As a coach, it's been magical to see Atleti return to the top level. We've still got a lot of things to improve but it's clear that, as a player and as a coach, the Calderón has been a place where the history of my life has taken place".
Atlético crowd will be spectacular for final game at the Calderón
How do you expect the crowd to be tomorrow? "I don't think we need to ask anything of our people - tomorrow, the stadium is going to be brilliant. The people can watch the final game of the season although for me, our last important game here has been and gone - the Champions League semi-final but we lost to Real Madrid. This game will bring the league campaign to its conclusion but in sporting terms, I think the Calderón bowed out after that game".
What does the future hold for Simeone? "I've always been open about our position with the club; we are coming to the end of the season and I'm sure that on Monday, we'll meet up with Miguel [Gil Marín], Andrea [Berta], to discuss what the future holds and obviously we will always look to do what's best for the club and best for everyone".
The base of the team is there and it's a solid base - the team has been competing at an extraordinary level for six years, and moving to a new stadium is going to demand even more from us. Due to the spectacular nature of the new ground, we will be obliged to live up to it - all of us must take a step towards the tremendous stadium which will welcome us in September".