Forget the Balon d’Or, the Grammys and the Nobel Prize. We are proud to introduce the first annual AtléticoFans Awards!
Now that the 2010/2011 season is over it’s time to look back at all we’ve seen since AtléticoFans opened its doors back in August. We honour the best, worst, funniest and most bizarre moments of the campaign with the prestigious AtléticoFans Award.
Best match of the season
We extensively covered this category in our special AtléticoFans Match of the Season 2010/11 feature. From our 51 official fixtures this year, we picked five that stood out, with only one possible winner. It turned out that our first competitive game of the season was also the most memorable one, the UEFA Super Cup win over the World Champions, Internazionale, back in August.
Worst match of the season
As happens more often than we’d like, Atleti completely switched off on some occasions this season. In our home defeat against Aris, it was like a little child was playing with our ‘ON’ and ‘OFF’ buttons.
We started the match in the ‘OFF’ position, going down early after a disastrous display of defending, before two quick goals by Forlan and Kun put us ahead 2-1. All we needed to do was hold on to the lead, as a win against the Greek minnows meant qualification into the next round of the Europa League.
The strong backing of supporters present at the Vicente Calderón was not enough to inspire our men to keep on fighting, as they slacked off and allowed the Greeks to score two goals and steal the three points. We failed miserably in the last attempt to defend our title and were, quite deservedly, knocked out of the competition, earning this match the notorious distinction of Worst Match of the Season.
A close runner-up for this infamous award was the ass whooping we received from now relegated Hércules in Alicante. La Liga’s second worst team humiliated us with a 4-1 caning, our biggest defeat of the campaign.
Goal of the season
Our most beautiful goal was undoubtedly Reyes’ strike against Villarreal, as we covered in our Goal of the Season feature. Not only was his thunderbolt perfectly placed, it also gave us the lead in a very important game against Villarreal, a match we ultimately won 3-1.
Tiago, Simão and Agüero also scored amazing goals, but an honorable mention goes to Atlético B-goalkeeper Iago Herrerín who scored the winning goal in a 3-2 win over Getafe with a free kick from his own half which looped in over his opposite number.
Performance of the season
Often Atlético have relied on individual brilliance to get them through games, and for players to step up when they’re most needed. De Gea was unbeatable in El Madrigal, Diego Costa deadly in Pamplona, Reyes was fantastic against Villarreal and Kun was out of this world against Mallorca, but we haven’t seen a better performance than that of David de Gea versus Barcelona.
Despite conceding twice, the young goalkeeper kept out Barcelona on numerous occasions and prevented Pedro, Messi and Villa from adding to their impressive goal tally. His saves from long range shots, headers and one-on-ones were as spectacular as they were brilliant. This resulted in the fans chanting his name for most of the game, despite Atleti losing 2-1 to the Culés. It was after this game, more than ever, that the media began nominating him for the Spanish Selección and that Manchester United really started taking an interest in the youngster.
Blooper of the season
Throughout the campaign fans often shook their heads in disbelief after yet another catastrophic failure from Cirque du Atleti, with Sporting’s goal in January or Aris’ first goal at the Calderón perhaps being among the most embarrassing moments of the year.
But Atleti fans weren’t the only ones to suffer. Poor Willy Caballero was hit exactly where his name suggests by Brazilian lumberjack Diego Costa during a rather clumsy challenge (at 6.20) and was fortunate to walk away from the incident without any permanent damage.
Flick of the season
Kun’s sombrero (at 5:35) over the head of Sporting’s Sebastián Eguren.
Player of the season
As explained in the AtléticoFans Player of the Season 2010/11 feature there was only one man who really deserved this award. It remains uncertain whether Sergio Agüero will continue in the Vicente Calderón but he was without a doubt the best player to have worn the red and white of Atlético this season.
Defender of the season
While Diego Godín and Filipe were signed as two quality reinforcements for our back four, it was good ol’ Luis Amaranto Perea who was our best defender of the season. Although prone to a mistake or a mishit pass every now and then, Turbo had an excellent season at the back, and managed to break records too! He surpassed Jorge Griffa’s 203 appearances for Atleti and is now the foreigner with most matches played for the club.
Midfielder of the season
Last month, Atlético turned down an offer from Galatasaray for him, stating that the player was “untransferable”. It says everything about the importance of José Antonio Reyes, who has become Atleti’s main creative outlet and was the most fouled player in La Liga in 2010/11. With the absence of De Gea, and possible departures of Agüero and Forlán next season, all attention will shift to the Andalusian, who will hope to build on his excellent performances from this past campaign.
Forward of the season
Breakout player of the season
Although David de Gea had only completed half a season prior to this campaign, we have chosen to hand this award to Koke. The young midfielder came into the team after Simão’s departure in January and has impressed with his work rate and determination. Jorge Resurrección Merodio, the Madrid-born midfielder’s full name, bleeds red and white and will surely continue to develop at Atleti after his impressive debut season.
‘Next Fernando Torres’ award
At only 11 years of age it will be a while before we see him in the Vicente Calderón, but Salomón Obama has inspired us all with his eight goals against Real Madrid this season. As part of the Cadete he played a key role in our youth team’s 5-3 and 5-1 victories over our crosstown rivals and netted four times in both encounters.
Signing of the season
Not one of our new players managed to make it into our Top 5 Players of 2010/11, but some of last summer’s additions did manage to make a spot their own in our starting XI towards the end of the season. Diego Godín and Filipe were regulars in our defence, while Diego Costa scored 8 goals in his first season in red and white after being signed in 2007. January signings Elias and Juanfran need some more time to adapt, but showed flashes of their ability in the second half of the campaign.
But the new player that impressed us the most is a player we’ve actually had available for years. Mario Suárez returned from Mallorca to reinforce our midfield and made the position of defensive midfield his own. The Rojiblanco youth product performed consistently, contributed with two goals and provided the passing outlet ahead of our defence we’ve lacked for so long.
It wasn’t appreciated by everyone, but Elias became an instant hit among the Atlético faithful after showing an Anti-Madridista scarf during his presentation in January.
Pig in a poke
Everyone was looking forward to seeing Fran Mérida after his long awaited arrival last summer, but the offensive midfielder failed to break into the team and was left out of Quique’s match selections for weeks. He made just 17 league appearances from which only six as a starter. It’s unclear if Fran will have a place in next year’s squad, but the Atleti fan at heart will have a lot to prove in his second year at the club.
There were only four teams we managed to beat twice in the league this season and our best games were most definitely against Real Sociedad. The first encounter in San Sebastián made for a spectacular six goal thriller, which we decided in our favour with goals by Kun (2), Forlán and Simão. In the return leg at the Calderón, Atleti again scored freely with another goal by Kun and strikes from first-time scorers Filipe and Mario Suárez.
Most feared opponent
0 out of 4 against Real Madrid makes for a year to forget.
Enrique Cerezo award
The prize for the best quote of the season is named after our blabbermouth president, who entertained the media with some gems this season. The one we heard most often:“No sé nada…”. Some of our favorites:
“We always play good games outside of Spain. Today in Monaco, the other day in Hamburg, the cup final in Barcelona…”
“Could Atlético win la Liga this year? Worse things have happened.”
“The only offer we’ve made to Simão for contract renewal is that we didn’t make an offer.”
“Those that protest against Atlético [the board] are a bunch of hippies.”
Agüero to Rea… wait. Terek Grozny’s approach for Diego Forlán was unexpected, but the Russians did make a legitimate offer for the Uruguayan. The rumour we liked most of all was Ronaldinho’s rumoured transfer to Atlético. The Brazilian superstar’s name popped up soon after Kun Agüero stated his desire to move away from the Vicente Calderón. At AtléticoFans we’re glad the rumour was nothing more than paper talk.
Rafa Benítez Award
The Benítez award for impressive rotation policy goes to Quique Sánchez Flores, who hadn’t played the same line-up in consecutive matches for 78 matches in a row. Against Espanyol on 17 April of this year we repeated our starting XI for the first time in 106 games, since our Champions League game against Panathinaikos on 25 August 2009. In league play the streak even reached back to 6 December 2008.
Sergio Asenjo suffered a second knee ligament injury within a year just as he had recovered and hoped to start playing games for Málaga. This summer Asenjo will continue with his rehabilitation to get fit in time for the new season. We may need him, especially with De Gea’s departure to Manchester United.
Nickname of the season
Most surprising prize winner
Miguel Ángel Gil Marín was chosen as the Best Director during the Globe Soccer Awards 2010 in Dubai.
Injury of the season
Marca reported in March that David de Gea will undergo a surgery for myopia (shortsightedness) this summer. Thankfully the lanky goalkeeper never seemed to have any problems with his vision during our games.
Tour of the season
Our two European cups went all around Spain for fans to pose with. Their tour lasted longer than our European campaign this year.
AtléticoFans visitor comment
“I think we need to hire Ezio and send him to Madrid on a mission…” – Our reader Davide suggests hiring the hitman from Assassin’s Creed to take care of problems in the offices of the Vicente Calderón.
Prediction League winner
Andrius was our Prediction League winner, and here’s a picture of him wearing his prize!
As always we want to hear YOUR thoughts! Can you think of more worthy prize winners or new categories to nominate? Leave your thoughts in the comments!