Thursday, September 28

The Argentine has been coaching in LaLiga for over a decade, here are five things you might not know about El Cholo.

Since Diego Simeone took over Atlético de Madrid’s dugout in 2011, the Argentine has won eight trophies, more than any other manager in the history of Los Rojiblancos. He was, is and always will be a club legend, for what he did as a player and for what he is achieving as a coach. He is one of the most famous tacticians in the world, but there are a few things you might not know about him.

He formed part of Atlético de Madrid’s historic double

Before Simeone was a LaLiga Santander-winning coach of the current warrior-like Atlético de Madrid team, the Argentine was also a fearsome midfielder who lifted many trophies, including a LaLiga Santander and Copa del Rey double with the Rojiblanco outfit in 1995/96. He even scored on the final day of that league season, when Atleti defeated Albacete 2-0 to clinch the title. A mobile, technical and aggressive box-to-box midfielder capable of stopping, starting and finishing moves, Simeone starred for over a decade in LaLiga Santander, first with Sevilla FC and then in two different spells as an Atlético player.

His certainty that he’d play for Argentina

When he was 17, Simeone was called up to the Argentina U20 team. However, he and another member of the squad, Antonio Mohamed, had the wrong time and arrived late. So, they went to catch a public bus and, since they had no money, Simeone turned to the driver and said: “One day I will be a professional footballer. I will play for Argentina. Remember my name and his too. Don’t forget us. We just need a small favour.” The driver drove the two young men a few kilometres, before they ran the remaining distance.

No doubts when Atleti made the call

Simeone didn’t hesitate when the call came in from Atlético de Madrid in December of 2021. After hearing from the Spanish club and putting the phone down, his son Giuliano – now on the books at Atlético de Madrid B – said “So you’re going to be going up against Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo?” and then “Doesn’t Radamel Falcao play there?” “Yes” and “yes,” came the replies. With his family as excited as he was, Simeone embarked on this new adventure.

His titles and records

On his way to winning eight trophies as a coach – the two LaLiga Santander championships, plus two Europa League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, one Copa del Rey and one Spanish Super Cup – the Argentine has broken various records. A 2-1 victory over Athletic Club in March 2021 was his 309th in charge of the team and that saw him overtake the legendary Luis Aragonés to become the Atleti coach with the most victories ever. Furthermore, he is already the man to have been head coach at one LaLiga Santander club for the second-most matchdays in a row. Miguel Muñoz’s 417 league games in a row is the target in this category and Simeone would clinch this record in 2022/23.

His role in Atleti’s transformation

Simeone has put Atleti in the top 10 of UEFA’s club coefficient rankings and kept them there since 2014, something that was unthinkable when he assumed the position. He openly talks about the club’s growth and the year-on-year progress being made off the pitch too, not least with the move from the old Vicente Calderón to the new state-of-the-art Wanda Metropolitano, a transition that was as seamless as it was thanks to Simeone and the way he kept achieving positive results and kept conducting the fans during matches as if they were his orchestra.

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