Why do I support Atlético Madrid?

Charlie Nobile explains how Atleti managed to win his heart

Atletico Madrid fans at the Copa del Rey final in Barcelona against Sevilla

Atleti faithful at the 2010 Copa del Rey final

Why do I support Atlético Madrid? It was quite difficult to put into words then, but two years removed from my first visit to the Calderón, the reasons are now as clear as the Rio Manzanares in winter. 

Racing Santander was in town for the ida of a semi-final Copa del Rey match. Atlético had strung together a few impressive victories that 2010 season, but there remained a pessimistic feeling amongst the supporters that it could all go terribly wrong at any given moment. This was to be my first opportunity to physically see why I had moved 9,000 kilometers from Los Angeles to Madrid.

Months earlier I had accepted an internship offer to work for Atlético’s Fundación department. It’s relatively safe to assume that this association with the club was enough for me to become a fan of the team, but this connection in and of itself was not enough to convince me to support the team.  I needed justifiable convincing.

There was something different about this club. I could see it in the way the supporters prepared for the match.  Rising out of the Pirámides metro station, the afición ascended onto the streets of Southern Madrid.  Half-time bocadillos de jamón in one hand, cans of Mahou beer in the other it went.  Vocal chords stretched to their limits with every song sung, never missing a beat or a lyric. Te Quiero Atléti had been put on loop.  This was standard protocol, and one got the sense that these people waited all week to partake in this spectacle, and for good reason.  They lived it.

It was distinctly visible how appreciative the supporters were of every tackle, every through ball, and every brilliant switch of play. These were the nuances of the game that I recognized and loved, but that many of my American compatriots back home failed to notice or simply did not care about.  The pitos towards opposing players and referees were always deafening and always in unison.  Sometimes justified and other times not so much, but the message was always the same. This was the Vicente Calderón and Atlético reigned supreme, for good or ill.

I was twenty-four, living in Madrid, single, and in love. That 2010 season will always be etched in my mind as the year I finally found a team worthwhile to support and call my own. The extreme highs and lows of that fútbol season paralleled my personal life in Madrid. I experienced life’s highs and rode out the lows with an Atlético bufanda around my neck and the Puerta del Sol as my backdrop.

The season culminated in an unimaginable appearance in two finals.  As fate would have it, Atléti would be facing a rival in the Europa League final that I was directly familiar with. Fulham was a team I had previously considered “my European team,” and my loyalties were to be put to the test. ¿Was Atlético a passing fad, or had the team truly won my heart? My support of The Mattress Makers never wavered that week, as my Fulham shirt remained buried deep into the closet.  It was de verdad, and I knew it.

I thankfully was fortunate enough to get entradas for the Copa del Rey final just a week later in Barcelona against Sevilla. I somehow squeaked my way through an interview in Spanish about why I supported Atlético and how the match would play out with a local television station. My prediction was wrong, but my initial impressions of Atlético’s loyal fan base were not. I stayed behind with the other 45,000 Colchonero supporters at the stadium that night well after the final whistle had sounded. It had been a gut-wrenching night, but even with that defeat I knew that I had found the reason why I came to Spain in the first place. Por eso soy del Atléti.

  • wow. ok then. Because that is not the reason why i support atleti. I supported them even before those two years ago. But well written though. Nice article

  • Nick Poskitt

    Wow, great read. Thanks Charlie! Hopefully this will inspire some of our other readers to write in telling us why they love Atlético Madrid too!

  • solari

    my story is that, I used to support REAL MADRID, but once in a derby, I changed my mind though REAL won then….and now nobody can imagine how deep in love I am with atléti…..I love Atlético Madrid forever and ever……

  • SoLobo

    I could write a lot of pages to describe why i support Atleti! But i don’t want to be boring. Just that

  • Martin Rosenow


  • Evan C

    My love for Atleti began when Fernando Torres moved to my team were i live in Liverpool, i started to watch them on TV and my dad asked me what team would i want to go and watch and i said Atlet so we went to the Atleti v Barca 2010 were we won 2-1 via a Superb Simao free kick, i have been 5 times in total now and also love the city of Madrid.

  • ratchet

    I supported atleti through a strange circumstace. My friend showed me this football management browser game, soccermanager, and gave me atleti to manage. Soccermanager is abit like football manager, so you get the idea. I didnt really follow football, only utd occasionly, and they justlost the league to chelsea. The world cup came and i had a results sheet i wanted to fill in, so i made a pact to watch as many matches as i could. In the world cup i saw forlan, and my brother pointed out he played for the team i managed in soccermanager, atletico madrid. Around the time of the world cup i saw a tv advert for the UEFA supercup, between atleti and inter. I decided to watch it and atleti won. The world cup made me love football, and i watched utd on my computer regularly. However, i also started watching atleti, and they were the tv with their first europa league group match against aris, and between that match and the home leg against aris, i grew to suport atleti.

  • falcao

    I started to support Atletico when they crashed Schalke in Champions League qualifications 4:0 at Vicente Calderon

  • shlomgar

    As I stated before, I started following the club after the 1-6 loss to Barcelona back in 2009 I think. I still consider Maxi’s goal in that game to be the greatest goal I’ve seen live.

  • kabir

    Great article. I have a question, Charlie. Where can I find an Atletico Madrid internship? That sounds great, but their website is a little hard to navigate.

  • I love Atleti because we had beaten Liverpool in the champions league and we qualified for the Rond of 16 (in UCL) But we lost to Porto. And also I supported them since when we lost 6-0 to Barcelona. I had seen my Favourite player (At the time) Fernando Torres and the next game we won. So for about 4-5 years I have supported Atleti.

    Aupa Atleti!!

  • Jorge

    Funny, like many, I was a Real fan–in my case, I adopted them through the family of my ex-wife. As you can imagine, I started to despise Real. Snobbish, entitled, etc… Anyway, I needed to find a new club, so I chose Atleti and immediately fell in love with Torres, Maxi, Cléber–what’s not to love?

  • Jorge

    Full disclosure. Though I’ve been to Barcelona many times, I’ve yet to make it to Madrid. Ugh.

  • Yon

    I support them because of FIFA games, when Aguero joined I started to play as them on it, eventually decided to start watching thier matches aswell, then Forlan signed who I also loved and I have strongly followed them since, even though neither player is there anymore I will just never forget the ups and downs.
    Only ever seen them live when they come to the UK, I live at the very tip top of Scotland, so its still hard even when they come here, but have seen them at Anfield a few times, friendly, CL and EL games! Hoping to go to Madrid next season 1 or 2 times though!

  • atletico fan

    Great, but just wanted to share after reading all this

    I started to follow atleti around 1994 when i heard the then colombian national team coach at 1994 world cup was hired by atleti, though colombia didnt do as expected at the world cup they came after playing great football so i thought he will make atleti like them a great team

    but when i first read that atricle i didnt know medrid had 2 teams i just thought it was real medrid that he was hired , but i didnt have to wait much longer as in 1995/96 atletico won all and been there fan since then through all these days and through relegations to cupfinal losses to winning EL…

  • Benja

    I started to follow atleti in 2006, after seeing FT playing for la furia roja in the Mundial. I liked the way that the young FT played and I started to follow his club team, Atleti. It was a perfect fit for me….I am a person who appreciates hard work and teamwork. I like to see a team have a good youth squad or at least purchase players who are young in order to develop talent. I have friends who support Real and Barca, but I can’t see following a team like that. My first visit to El Vicente Calderon showed me an interesting environement. Real Betis was in town to play atleti. I too enjoyed a Mahou and Bocadilla de Jamon. Flags waving, wearing a scarf and singing along with the other fans. My next visit to Vicente was against Barca in 2007. It was an absolute thrashing. I understood what it meant to be a rojiblanco, taking losses against tough competition in stride while holding your head high. After the game, I met an atleti fan at the Madrid bus station, and we discussed potential and players that we liked, even after a tough loss. I watch every game, even show some to my Spanish classes that I teach (Culture) There is no other club that I would want to follow, glory or defeat, ups or downs, becuase its more than a feeling, its a passion

  • Epoy

    I started following Atleti because of a crappy gameboy managerial game. Fernando Torres caught my eye there being a monster player surrounded by crappy players (at least in the game). And the rest is history. Love Atleti and will always be a rojiblanco forever. Im the only Atleti supporter in the Philippines, I think. heheheheh

  • imran

    I started following ATLETI when they defeated barcelona 4-3 that was a supurb game 3-1 down to 4-3 up I think i am the only fan of ATLETI in Saudi Arabia

  • mohamed fekry

    i started to support atleti because of fernando torres i wanted to watch el nino so i watched all atleti’s matches .. but torres left and my passion for atleti stayed and will awlays staay ! i’m the only rojiblanco in egypt i think 😀

  • JT

    boy, i’m so glad to have found this article. and it’s so good to hear other supporters who were once Real supporters. Many times i have felt how stupid it is to support Real Madrid. even when they won, it was devoid of emotion and passion. Perhaps my hatred for FC Barcelona is why i first gravitated towards their mortal enemy – Real.

    Plus deep down inside me, it always felt wrong to have to justify Real’s ridiculous payroll, prima donna superstar players. When i saw my first madrid derby, that’s when i realized i got more excited watching Atletico.

    I love madrid, the city, etc. but i realize now that when i made the decision to follow a madrid football club, Real was the wrong one. Atletico Madrid is the TRUE madridista club!!!!