Simeone, in the words of others
Simeone, in the words of others
In addition to winning silverware with Los Rojiblancos for the third season running, El Cholo received universal acclaim across the game for his coaching prowess – which also helped bring his charges agonisingly close to adding the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League crown to their trophy haul.
All of this earned him a place on the three-man shortlist for the 2014 FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men's Football award, to be presented at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala taking place on Monday 12 January in Zurich. FIFA.com caught up with several key figures from Simeone's footballing life who made the case for his claiming the prize.
Simeone’s son and a forward for Argentinian giants River Plate, the 19-year-old has already won the Copa Sudamericana with Los Millonarios and is preparing to represent his country at the South American U-20 Championship
“He deserves to win because he never lets his head drop. He’s a down-to-earth person who faces things head on and isn’t scared of anything. With few people having given his team a chance, to then go on to win the Spanish league and be two minutes away from winning the Champions League against this Real Madrid side is a huge achievement.
"My dad’s a key part of Atletico Madrid’s success, but of course the players, who are the ones who take the field after all, are also very important and deserve enormous credit. And therein lies one of his biggest qualities: being able to convince his players to go for it, that they’re going to win. As a father he’s just the same: he convinces you to always keep going.”
The former goalkeeper is now El Cholo’s right-hand man, his assistant coach since 2011. Team-mates with both Argentina and Atletico, El Mono Burgos once described his relationship with Simeone thus, in an interview with FIFA.com: “We only have to glance at each other to know what each of us is thinking.”
“The trophies he’s won aside, I think he’s got something which is vital: El Cholo doesn’t just build teams, he builds a group of people. We’re strong believers in the fact that you play the way you live your life. You play the way you live and you live the way you play. For that alone he deserves not just this award, but the next 20 too!
"What’s more, he’s instilled an insatiable thirst for victories in these players. They never take their foot off the pedal after a win. If we’ve won four games we want to win five. If we’ve won five we want to win six. Another of his standout qualities is the way he’s so good at getting through to the players. When he talks to you one-on-one, he’s immense, and when you’re one of his players he really takes you under his wing, which is a wonderful thing. And he’s got a great assistant too! (laughs)"
The 30-year-old Brazilian has cemented his place at the heart of the Atleti defence since Simeone’s arrival at the club. Under El Cholo, Miranda has won five trophies with Los Colchoneros and in 2013/14 was voted one of La Liga’s leading defenders.
“All through last season people were asking us: ‘How can this team be playing so well now when it’s virtually the same as in previous seasons?’ But that’s exactly what the secret is: given time to work, Simeone has been able to make this squad much more than the sum of its parts. I’d say that, of all the success Atletico had last season, at least 40 per cent is totally down to the work Diego put in. It’s incredible to see just how much of a difference a coach can make.”
Erstwhile team-mates at Inter Milan, Zanetti and Simeone were also long-time colleagues for Argentina. Among other tournaments, they competed together at the Olympic Football Tournament 1996 and the 1998 FIFA World Cup™.
“El Cholo was always like a coach out on the pitch. That’s why I’m not surprised by what he’s achieving, which has come on the back of sacrifice and hard work. With respect to [Carlo] Ancelotti and [Joachim] Low, I think that he’s done enough with Atletico to take home the top prize.”