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Simeone: "I brick it before every game; but I enjoy that fear"

The Atlético Madrid coach gave a fascinating insight into how he views the game in a candid, three-part interview with L'Equipe.

Simeone: "I brick it before every game; but I enjoy that fear"
Aitor AlcaldeGetty Images

Atlético Madrid coach Diego Pablo Simeone gave a fascinating insight into how he lives his team's games in the first part of a candid, three-part interview with L'Équipe.

Living and loving the game, El Cholo Simeone.
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Living and loving the game, El Cholo Simeone.FELIPE SEVILLANODIARIO AS

Pre-match adrenalin rush and fear gets El Cholo going

After all you've been through in football as a player and as a coach, does the game still excite you the same?

I love the feeling at the stadium, I like winning games, I like that sense of fear of not knowing what will happen. Every time a game kicks off, I feel fear. And it's the same fear I felt when I was a player - my body's telling me: 'You're absolutely bricking it, aren't you'. And yes, I am. I'm nervous but I enjoy it because that fear makes you better. It makes you a rebel and it keeps you alert. Bottling it all in and keeping quiet is toxic, I need to express it. Being relaxed is toxic. Believing that you are the best is toxic. Because football is constantly changing and evolving. The best state of mind a footballer can have is when they are afraid - that forces them to produce their best level.

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The players feed of my energy - Simeone

In spite of all the finals you have contested, do you still have the same energy and doubts when your team visits a ground, say, like Levante's? 

I think that the players can sense how the coach is feeling. The players are always looking over to the coach and can tell from his expression what's on his mind. And as soon as a coach lowers his energy, he's lost the dressing room and the confidence of his players.

But doesn't so much shouting and arm flapping actually make the players more nervous?

I do a lot of things because when we are winning, we are ahead - 1-0, 2-1, 2-0... When coaches don't shout, it's because their team is 4-0 up. Against Levante (5-0) the other day, I didn't need to shout. I am active when the game is hanging by a thread. And Atlético live on a tightrope. We are not Barcelona, we are not Real Madrid, or Bayern Munich or PSG. They win 4-0, 6-0 all the time...

When we see you so agitated in your technical area, we get the impression that you are frustrated at not being able to leap out onto the pitch and play yourself...

No, no, no - that's not the case at all. What I do during a match isn't performing, I'm transmitting the feelings and energy I have - which I feel is necessary for the team. I watch the players out on the pitch and whenever I see one relax, I get annoyed. Why? because I know that they are going to play badly and that will annoy the rest of my team. Of course I live the game 100%, but I live it to help the players to be at their best level.


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