Diego Simeone became the manager with the most matches as Atlético Madrid coach on Saturday night in a 6-1 victory over Sevilla at the Civitas Metropolitano. The club honoured Cholo with a “Simeone Legend” banner before the game, and he was presented a framed jersey with “613” on the back — the number of games he has sat on the bench as Atlético manager.
There was a short presentation on the pitch before the Sevilla game with Simeone’s son, Giovanni, and his two daughters welcomed onto the Cívitas Metropolitano pitch alongside the manager. He was presented the jersey by the son Luis Aragonés, whose record he overtook on Saturday night.
Aragonés managed Atlético for 612 games during various spells between 1974 and 2003. Aside from Aragonés and Simeone, legendary goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora coached Atlético for 203 games between 1939 and 1946. Some more notable names in the top 10 include Helenio Herrera, Frederick Pentland, and Javier Aguirre, who is currently in charge of Mallorca.
On Friday, Simeone penned and published an open letter to Aragonés, who retired from football management in 2009 and died in 2014. Simeone thanked his late mentor for encouraging him to join Atlético in 1994 when both men were at Sevilla, and he thanked his coaching staff as well as all the players who have passed through the Metropolitano and the demolished Vicente Calderón over the past 11 years.
“Explaining emotions is difficult. ... I started to think about (passing Aragonés) and there was one person I had to write to most of all, and that was Luis,” Simeone said following Saturday’s game. “We followed the same path, we both reached 612 games, and I have 613...Luis will be eternal.”
Simeone called Saturday night’s game “perfect” and expressed hope that his Atlético side continues along this same path for the remainder of the league season now that he has Aragonés’s games record. Atlético moved past Real Sociedad into third place following the victory and have a five-point advantage over fifth-place Real Betis, with the Verdiblancos due to play Real Madrid on Sunday night.
“It’s not easy to achieve (this record), it costs a lot on a day-to-day basis,” Simeone said. “Managing 11 years, guys who have to leave, guys (whose Atlético careers) are just starting. It excites me.”
Simeone has won 359 games as manager of Atlético, drawing 143 and losing 111. Atlético have scored 1,004 goals with Simeone on the bench, and Memphis Depay netted the 1,000th on Saturday night with his second of the game. Simeone’s win percentage is 58.56% and Atlético have won 1.99 points per game under the Argentine.