- Title: Atletico's big names will stay, predicts president
- Date: 7th April 2017
- Summary: MADRID, SPAIN (APRIL 5, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR OF VICENTE CALDERON STADIUM VARIOUS OF VICENTE CALDERON STADIUM PITCH AND SITS ATLETICO MADRID PRESIDENT ENRIQUE CEREZO WALKING TO PODIUM CEREZO ATTENDING EVENT VARIOUS OF CEREZO AT CLUB'S EVENT INTERVIEW IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID PRESIDENT ENRIQUE CEREZO SAYING: "It was very difficult, almost impossible to break the cycle of Real and Barca because the best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were at those teams plus all the great players they had it was very difficult. But we managed to stay there, we got ourselves in between them and we won the league." CLOSE OF CEREZO'S EYES (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID PRESIDENT ENRIQUE CEREZO SAYING: "The difference between the budgets is something to remember but in the end it doesn't have to be definitive. Leicester have a budget and (Manchester) City or United have a much bigger one. It's a huge achievement what they (Leicester) did winning a Premier League and they are now on the Champions League quarter finals." CEREZO DURING INTERVIEW (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID PRESIDENT ENRIQUE CEREZO SAYING: "It's always beautiful and important when a humble team, as you say, can have a satisfaction every once in a while and can celebrate winning important trophies like the Premier League." CEREZO'S HANDS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID PRESIDENT ENRIQUE CEREZO SAYING: "Simeone has demonstrated he is a magnificent coach, he is a magnificent Atletico fan and has demonstrated he is having a great life here in Madrid. He has just had a baby girl, his wife and family are very happy here. Then, to talk if he is going to stay or not, he has a contract with us and we do what we have to do. The fans are with him, the president is with him, the board is with him. Everyone is with him. What else could a person want?" CEREZO TOUCHING HIS GLASSES (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID PRESIDENT ENRIQUE CEREZO SAYING: "We have been in this stadium for 50 magnificent years, we have won titles, we have brought exceptional players and the best players in the world have passed through this stadium but everything has to change at some point and that time has come. We will do it on September 15, we will be playing at our new stadium." CEREZO MOVING HANDS DURING INTERVIEW (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID PRESIDENT ENRIQUE CEREZO SAYING: "The players play where they want to play. If a player from Atletico Madrid, from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona or City wants to play for a team, with no doubt they will end up playing there. Now fortunately we have players who want to play at Atletico de Madrid. We play Champions League, we are well classified, we have a great team, we will have a magnificent stadium and we have a brilliant fan base which is everything that players want." CEREZO SAYING GOODBYE AND LEAVING ROOM
- Embargoed: 21st April 2017 11:05
- Keywords: Atletico Madrid Leicester City Champions League La Liga Enrique Cerezo Soccer
- Location: MADRID, SPAIN
- City: MADRID, SPAIN
- Country: Spain
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA0016BEHQ2N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Modest Leicester City's unlikely run to the Premier League title last season was hailed as the most remarkable story in the history of soccer, but Atletico Madrid's La Liga triumph two years earlier could give it a run for its money, said their president Enrique Cerezo on Wednesday (April 5) in an exclusive interview for Reuters at Atletico's Vicente Calderon stadium.
The Champions League quarter-final tie between the two clubs may be the biggest game in the English club's 133-year history, but their opponents have become used to playing on Europe's biggest stage, having reached two Champions League finals in the last four years.
Cerezo, however, said it is easy to forget how much the odds were stacked against his side when they broke Real Madrid and Barcelona's nine-year stranglehold on the Spanish title in 2014, with a budget one fifth of the size of their rivals, who have won 56 titles between them.
Atletico endured injuries to key players such as top scorer Diego Costa in the run-in, but, marshalled by charismatic coach Diego Simeone and backed up by a rock solid defence, they clinched their first title in 18 years on the final day of the season by holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp.
The president said Atletico coach Simeone now enjoys God-like status at the club. The former midfielder was a crucial member of the 1996 team that won the league and returned for a second spell at the club before retiring but it is as a manager that he has achieved the most.
Atletico were reeling from a shock Cup exit to third-division Albacete and sitting just four points above the relegation zone when Simeone took over in January 2012 and his impact was remarkable, leading them to finish fifth and winning the Europa League.
Five years on, Simeone is the second longest running coach in Atletico's history, taking charge of over 300 games, shifting the debate from the "big two" of Real and Barcelona to "the big three".
The incredible achievements of the Argentine have made him one of the hottest properties in management, his name frequently appearing in speculation whenever a vacancy appears at one of Europe's top clubs. The coach raised alarm bells by reducing the date of his contract from 2020 to 2018, although Cerezo has no concern the coach is going to walk away any time soon.
Another factor keeping Simeone at Atletico is the attraction of leading the team into their new 67,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano on the other side of the city on September 15.
'Los Colchoneros' have traditionally struggled to hold onto their best players, selling Fernando Torres to Liverpool in 2007, Sergio Aguero to Manchester City in 2011, Radamel Falcao to Monaco in 2013 and Costa to Chelsea immediately after the title win. But with Atletico going places on and off the pitch, there is hope their best players such as France international Antoine Griezmann, a Ballon d'Or finalist last year, and goalkeeper Jan Oblak, will be able to resist the lure of rival clubs.
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