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AS.com | 30/12/2012
Did you think that one year after Simeone's arrival in the dugout there would be such a transformation in the team's fortunes?
It shows you exactly what football is all about: mindset. The same squad and first eleven this time last year had the worst record away from home; they had conceded the most goals and there was a tense atmosphere around the place. Then everything changed. Diego Simeone was able to break this negative mentality and lack of confidence and turn it around, all with the same first eleven. The squad as a whole were able to compete through solidarity, effort, confidence and positive results. This is exactly what brought us a European double and gave us a positive image in both finals against Athletic Bilbao and Chelsea. We've managed to maintain this attitude this season by getting off to the best start in the club's history and we're currently competing on three fronts with a view to fulfilling the objectives we have set ourselves.
So after a successful year, what is the main aim for the next one?
2013 must be a year in which Atlético get back into the Champions League, and I'd love to see us lift the league title again. Beyond the sporting side, 2013 could be very important for the city, our club and the development of the area surrounding our new stadium. In September the host nation for the Olympics will also be decided; I honestly believe that we are in the best position, with our stadium at the heart of the Games, to win.
Atlético's great season has been widely praised by a range of analysts and organisations, and has even gained international recognition with the Global Soccer awards. What's your view of the award you received in Dubai?
It's the recognition given to a club that wins trophies with the means and resources available to them. It also recognises their efficiency and effectiveness. Atlético compete in Europe with 50 other clubs with a similar or higher budget, but we're the club that has won the most European trophies in two years - 2010 and 2012. Then there's our position in the UEFA and IHFFS rankings.
Returning to Simeone, who you described earlier as key to the team's resurgence, how would you describe his presence in charge of the team?
I said that his arrival was a blessing for both him and the club. At the present moment, the fans, the media, the players, the employees and the managers are all convinced that we have a competitive side that is difficult to beat and is a daunting prospect for other teams. All of that, along with the atmosphere in the changing room, the effort, the togetherness and the pride of belonging to the club is down to Simeone. I hope we can enjoy it together for a long time to come.
Another name to stand out in 2012 is Radamel Falcao. Do you think his performances meant you were right when you signed him without giving it a second thought?
He's a great player. He's up there with the best players in the world, which has been recognised with him winning the player of the year award in Dubai. When we signed him we knew the risk we were taking on was very high, but luckily everything has worked out. Having said that, people did doubt him and the money we paid for him. But he's rewarded those that had confidence in him and those that spoke to him before he arrived; those that got it right and trusted him as a professional and a person. His future? We have an agreement with him that will decide what's best for both parties at the end of the season and we'll help him decide. He's earned that right. I'm certain he's at home in our league, in our city and at our club.
The good news on the sporting side has not only come from the first team. In 2012 the 'rojiblanca' youth team has also had a dazzling campaign, winning trophy after trophy and with some fine young players knocking on the door of the first team. Another reason to be proud, surely?
The club has put in six million euros per season for quite some time now, which has enabled us to rely on young players that guarantee the future of our team. Diego has been giving lads from the B team opportunities and they feel that their contribution to the first team is growing. I think next season there will be three or four more players from the ranks in the first team.