Diego Simeone, popularly known as El Cholo , is an emblem of Atletico de Madrid and an undisputed reference point for world football. He has earned historic titles both as a player and on the bench, thanks to the nervous and agitated style that characterizes him so much. Today we review the story of one of the most important men in international football.
Diego Simeone as a player
The beginnings in Argentina
El Cholo had his first experience in professional football with Club Vélez Sársfield in Argentina. He made his debut in this team’s first division in 1987, aged just 17. He was baptized as Cholito due to his resemblance to Carmelo Simeone, a player of the fifties.
Simeone has always been a very dynamic player, capable of performing an exceptional aerial game. Although he played as a midfielder, he managed to position himself as a forward as well. In his 82 games with Vélez, he scored 15 goals, a figure that does him credit. In the teams he played for afterwards, he was able to maintain a similar average. Diego Simeone’s football career.
Diego Simeone in Europe
Simeoni was bought by Pisa at the age of 20. After spending two years with the Italian club, Sevilla FC led by Argentinian Carlos Bilardo bought him for just over € 1 million.
In the Andalusian club, where he shared the team with the legend Diego Armando Maradona, he remained for two years. After that, his excellent skills allowed him to take the essential step of his career.
Probably not even Simeone would have imagined, in 1994, that his arrival at Atletico Madrid in exchange for 450 million pesetas – around 2.5 million euros today – would become a milestone in the club’s history.
It had come at a time when the club was at a critical point in the league table. However, it took only three seasons to make him an idol: he became captain of the league and Copa del Rey champion team during the 1995/1996 season.
He then continued with Inter, where he won a UEFA Cup, and with Lazio, a club with which he won a Scudetto, a Champions Cup, a Super Cup and a European Super Cup.
From 2003 to 2005 he returned to Atletico de Madrid, although he did not have the same success as the previous season. Then he returns to Argentina, wearing the shirt of the club he has always been a fan of: the Racing Club of Avellaneda. Diego Simeone’s football career.
The Argentine national team and Diego Simeone
From an early age, Simeone devoted much of his football career to the Argentina national team. He was part of this team for 14 years, and with this team he played 106 games, scored 11 goals and won 4 titles:
- 2 America’s Cup: in 1991 and 1993.
- Artemio Franchi cup.
- Confederations Cup 1992.
In addition, Diego Simeone played three World Cups – USA 1994, France 1998 and Korea Japan 2002 – and won a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Diego Simeone’s football career.
Diego Simeone, a different coach
Although he is currently tied to a conservative, aggressive and defensive style of play, his beginnings in Argentina were very different. His first experience as a manager was in his beloved Racing Club, where he spent the first few days after retiring as a player.
After leaving a compromising situation to keep his place in the highest category, Simeone left the Academy and distinguished himself in Estudiantes de La Plata. Together with Juan Sebastián Verón, they achieved a local title with that group after 23 years.
The next step was River Plate, a club where he achieved mixed results. First, he received a blow: he was eliminated from the Copa Libertadores after scoring two goals and with two more men than in San Lorenzo.
However, weeks later, he was anointed Argentine tournament champion. Eventually, he left the team before the end of the year, in a tournament where River made it to the finals for the first time in its history.
His football career in Argentina ended with a brief interlude in San Lorenzo de Almagro —2009 / 2010— and a return to Racing, where he did not achieve great results. Meanwhile, he also made a very brief appearance in Catania, which he saved from losing the category in the 2010/2011 season. Diego Simeone’s football career.
The arrival in Aleti and the beginning of a golden era
In 2011, and again with an Atletico failing to perform well in the Spanish league, Simeone landed again in Vicente Calderón, this time as technical director.
Since then the club has experienced one of its most glorious moments. Not only did he manage to sneak into the bilateral fight between Barcelona and Real Madrid, but he also secured the local title in the 2013/2014 season.
In the same year, Aleti played in the UEFA Champions League final no more and no less than against their eternal rival, Real Madrid. Although they had the advantage during most of the match, Sergio Ramos got the draw and then, the 4 to 1 victory.
However, this did not overshadow the other team, which would have had a rematch in the 2015/2016 season. Later, the Madrid clubs would meet again at the Giuseppe Meazza in Milan. Once again, Simeone’s team lost to Real Madrid, this time on penalties.
For all this and also for his winning mentality and his immeasurable desire to always excel, Diego Simeone is a milestone not only of Atletico Madrid, but of international football. Fortunately, we will be able to enjoy El Cholo for a few more years.