Former Atlético captain Simão Sabrosa spoke to Spanish radio station Onda Cero Monday night as he gets set for what will surely be an emotional return to the Vicente Calderón.
On Thursday, the 32-year-old’s Besiktas side will visit Madrid for their Europa League round of 16 first leg clash against Atleti, an event the former Portugal international assured will be a “homecoming” for him.
”The day of my departure was difficult enough,” Simao said.
“The emotions I felt that day were very strong. I think I will feel them again during the game.”
He continued: “I still have a lot of very special affection for everyone at the club.
“To be able to return and face Atleti is going to be a very special day and it will be a homecoming, because Atleti is a home for me.
“I got a lot of messages on the day of the drawing. I still have a lot of friends in Madrid. I speak to Perea, Domínguez, workers and people of the club.”
The winger, who banged in 32 goals and provided 25 assists during his three and a half year stint as a Colchonero, promised not to celebrate should he manage to get one past Courtois on Thursday.
“If I score at the Calderón, I will not celebrate,” he said.
“Out of respect for the fans and my [former] team-mates, I will not do it even though scoring a goal would be very important for me. They deserve all my respect and appreciation.”
Simao offered his observations about the present Atleti and confirmed he keeps in touch with some of the men he lifted two continental trophies with in 2010.
“Right now, I see Atlético more in the image of their coach,” he said.
“They’re a committed team, with the players fighting and playing as a team. Tactically, they have improved a lot. It will be a difficult match.
He continued: “From speaking to the players, [I have gathered] they are delighted to have Simeone as their coach and of being on the right track.
“I think Atlético always have to be within the top four.”
Finally, the versatile midfielder gave an assessment of his club’s season so far. Besiktas are in fourth place in the Turkish Süper Lig standings and 16 points behind first place-holders Galatasaray. They have uncharacteristically lost five of their last seven league matches.
“We’re going through a complicated spell,” he said.
“A lot of our players are injured because we’re the only team in Turkey that are playing in three competitions. The league started later because of the [match-fixing allegation] problem we had here last year and we’re playing every three days.”
He continued: “We hardly have any time to train, only to recover. Nonetheless, we still have a strong enough squad to play a good game in Madrid.
“Here, a football match is unforgettable. The people that come here, friends or family, can’t believe it. It’s incredible to experience a match here.”
This will not be the first time Simão reunites with some of his former Rojiblanco buds on the field.
Back in July, the set-piece specialist participated in the triangular tournament hosted in Granada between the local Primera División side, Atlético and Besiktas.
We lost 1-0 in the 45 minute match against the Black Eagles. Simao assisted Fabian Ernst for the game’s only goal through a corner.