Diego Simeone’s 500th game in charge of Atlético: how brilliant is he? | UEFA Champions League

Diego Simeone has now been in charge of Atlético Madrid for a staggering 500 games. What better excuse to pay tribute to a remarkable coach who wasn’t half bad as a player either?

Simeone wins UEFA Cup as a player


What they say

2018 final highlights: Atlético 3-0 Marseille

2018 final highlights: Atlético 3-0 Marseille

“Simeone is a complete coach; I always said it when I was at Atlético. He’s close to you, he works a lot tactically, and he’s very intelligent in the way he prepares for games. He has certain innate things, a talent in how to prepare you for games. He’s a passionate coach, and he creates the link between the side and the fans. He’s the director of the orchestra.”
Diego Godín, former Atlético captain

“He’s got an extraordinary gift. His side run like dynamite. The side just works, and his players love him. He has something that puts a spell on his players; he’s an extraordinary coach.”
Julian Nagelsmann, Leipzig coach

“If I’m not mistaken, Simeone has been at Atlético for nine years and has made them evolve really positively. Now they’ve got the best defence in Europe.”
Hansi Flick, Bayern coach

“It’s really admirable what Simeone is doing at Atlético. We all know it and we can all see it. Atlético are fighting it out for trophies because during the week a lot is asked of them. Football is played like you train. Growth is achieved in what’s asked of you in training.”
Gabriel Milito, former Argentina team-mate

“I think everybody knows how good he is, how passionate he is when he is on the touchline and when he’s in training. He’s unbelievable and I’ve got this opportunity to learn from him.”
Kieran Trippier, Atlético defender

Coaching career (Atlético)

Diego Simeone and Radamel Falcao celebrate Atlético's 2012 UEFA Europa League win

Diego Simeone and Radamel Falcao celebrate Atlético’s 2012 UEFA Europa League winGetty Images

UEFA club competition: 105 (W64 D21 L20)
Domestic competition: 394 (W236 D97 L61)

*Domestic competition includes only Liga, Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup.

Playing career (Europe)

International: 106 appearances, 11 goals
UEFA club competition: 63 appearances, 9 goals
Domestic competition: 375 appearances, 65 goals

*Domestic competition includes only Liga and Serie A (appearances for Pisa, Sevilla, Atlético, Internazionale and Lazio).

Claims to fame

Simeone lifts the Copa América with Argentina in 1993

Simeone lifts the Copa América with Argentina in 1993Getty Images

  • The longest-serving active coach in Spain and the second longest-serving coach of a Spanish club in a consecutive spell – after Miguel Muñoz of Real Madrid.
  • After taking over on 23 December 2011, coached Los Rojiblancos to two Europa League titles (2012, 2018), two Champions League finals (2014, 2016), as well as lifting the Super Cup twice (2012, 2018).
  • Beat Madrid and Barcelona to the Liga title in 2013/14, just as he did as an Atlético player in 1995/96.
  • Won nine honours as a player for club and country, including the 1998 UEFA Cup and 1999 UEFA Super Cup.
  • Represented Argentina at three FIFA World Cups and four Copa Américas (winning in 1991 and 1993), as well as claiming a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games.

What you might not know

  • He was nicknamed El Cholo by Argentina youth team coach Victorio Spinetto after 1970s Boca Juniors right-back Carmelo Simeone. When asked its meaning, he revealed “I’ve got no idea.”
  • His motto is “En la vida, hay que creer” – In life, you have to believe.
  • When called up to the Argentina Under-20 squad, a 17-year-old Simeone, along with former Celta coach Antonio Mohamed, realised they had missed the team bus to take them to training. They attempted to catch a public bus; however, without any cash, the driver would not take them. Simeone told the driver that he was denying two future Argentina internationals a ride, but it was no use. In the end, they had to run to training.
  • As a boy, his idol was Brazilian playmaker Falcão.
  • He once described his style as playing “with the knife between the teeth”.
  • Simeone has three sons, two of whom are professional footballers. Giovanni plays for Cagliari in Serie A, and Gianluca plies his trade in Spain’s fourth tier for CD Ibiza.

What he says

2012 final highlights: Atlético 3-0 Athletic

2012 final highlights: Atlético 3-0 Athletic

“I live by a phrase that my friend Nelson Vivas says: ‘The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.'”

“Just like in war, sometimes the best don’t win, rather those who are most convinced of their cause.”

“I believe in individual work with footballers. If I see that they are improving, this is the most important trophy you can win.”

What he might achieve yet

  • A maiden UEFA Champions League title for Atlético – having come so close twice before.
  • Atlético are well placed to push for a second Liga title under his leadership.
  • The longest-serving Atleti coach – Luis Aragonés currently holds the record of 611 games in charge.

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