Thursday was a special day for Atlético Madrid and Diego Simeone, as both parties celebrated a decade together.
On Dec. 23, 2011, Atlético announced Simeone’s return to the club as coach. He signed a one-and-a-half-year deal to replace Gregorio Manzano, hoping to reverse the fortunes of a team floundering 21 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid in LaLiga after a humiliating Copa del Rey elimination to Albacete.
Simeone has done a little more than that.
The Argentine has parlayed that 18-month contract into nine-and-a-half seasons in charge at the club where he spent two stints as a player. He has since guided Atlético to eight trophies — including two famous league titles — and is the winningest manager in club history. Despite their poor performances throughout the current season, Atleti have gained a foothold in the European elite thanks in large part to Cholo’s incredible work in recent years.
And neither club nor coach has any desire to see the partnership end just yet. Earlier Thursday, Atlético teased a “First Decade of Simeone” feature before the boss himself published a message on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Dear Atlético de Madrid fans,
It has been 10 years since my arrival as the manager, and I did not want to let the day go by without thanking you for your support from the first moment. It is inevitable that so many memories of moments we’ve spent together come back to me (today), enormous joys and sorrows that we have overcome.
I thank Miguel Ángel Gil Marín and Enrique Cerezo for giving me the opportunity to return, as a coach, to the place that I always felt was my home. But above all, I thank the players who have always known how to convey on the pitch everything I feel for this game, generating excitement and making us all proud of our team.
I thank all those who have been on the coaching staff, working and finding ways to improve ourselves every day. And I thank the club’s other staff for always being aligned on the same path: GAME BY GAME.
Today, we are going through a difficult moment in terms of results, and I want to convey to you my feeling that by being united — from fans and players to sports management and the coaching staff — we are going to continue fighting for our goals!! I only know one path, that of hard work and effort!
I wish you all good health and a Merry Christmas!
Diego Pablo Simeone.