Atlético coach Diego Simeone made several revelations of interest when he appeared on Spanish radio station ABC Punto Radio’s programme ‘Abellán en punto’ Monday night.
Here are some of the highlights from ‘El Cholo’s interview:
On the upcoming derby clash with Real Madrid on the 1st of December
How many games are there in the season? How many of them are against Madrid and Barça? Okay. We have to win all the games that aren’t against Madrid or Barça. I have to win the match I am playing before [the derby].
I’ve always had a great relationship with him. Everything Falcao does and achieves makes me happy, because I have known him since many years ago. We were together at River Plate and he didn’t understand my exit, and the day before I left he demanded an explanation. He knew the way we worked and today, he’s the best ‘9’ in the world.
Whenever we play a final I never talk to the players on the day of the match. I consider that it is their day and that the coach should only accompany them. [The night before the Europa League Final] ‘Mono’ Burgos and I gave them a speech at 11 at night, speaking individually to each one of them and I told Falcao that I wanted one of the two shirts from the end of the season, either the one from the final in Bucharest or the one from the Villarreal game on the final match day, because I didn’t know how much longer we would be working together.
Barça play better than the Spanish national team. If they played each other the national team wouldn’t stand a chance.
On Messi vs. Maradona
Diego offered us something special in his time, but Messi is on track to being better. I don’t think there will ever be a player like Messi again.
It’s a fact that Barcelona wouldn’t be the same without Messi, just like Atlético wouldn’t be the same without Falcao.
On Óliver Torres
I saw something special in him the first time I saw him in training. Germán [‘Mono’ Burgos] and I would ask each other, ‘Who is that player?’ We have to take things the best way possible, but he has a style of play that requires more growth, without leaving behind his inventiveness, but he has to offer what the league demands. We’re not here to play young players, we’re here to win. He has to play in Segunda B in order to later play in Primera [“He needs to be able to go up against Ballesteros,” el Mono Burgos interjected jokingly].
On his arrival and first contact with the squad
It felt like I had known the squad for a long time. The fans welcomed the former player [version of me] as opposed to the coach that had arrived. I will never forget it: 5,000 people at the Vicente Calderón.
I spoke to the players and I said, ‘Guys, I was also jeered at some point’. They wanted to get out of the rut that they were in. When the heart and mind are united, everything is possible.
During matches I keep an eye on two or three specific players and when they are doing well I feel relaxed, because they are the ones that conduct the team and transmit what the coach wants from them.
I will keep on gambling on him so that he reaches his best level, because he is a special player, he fascinates me and he knows it. He always intrigues you and makes you think that at any moment, he can win the match for you, that’s why I have faith in him.
On Cristian ‘Cebolla’ Rodríguez
He offers what the Vicente Calderón needs: passion.
There are days that I get to the training ground two hours before practice and Juanfran is already there working out.
He’s a fighter.
On the tradition of exchanging shirts after the game
As a player I never exchanged my Atleti shirt. My opponents would’ve had to offer me two because mine was worth more.
On the possibility of a contract extension
I want to win and I am at the place where I want to be.