Koke reflects on CL heartbreak

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke has spoken of his disappointment at losing last week’s Champions League final to Real Madrid.

In an interview with Marca, Koke revealed he had spent a few sleepless nights going over the events of Lisbon.

“The first two nights went very badly. After a year of hard work the final was very cruel to us,” he said.

“The team gave everything to win in 90 minutes and they equalised in injury time.

“We ran with a lot of force and we left everything on the field.

“The Barcelona game [in which Atletico were crowned champions] took a huge effort and maybe took its toll.”

It was put to Koke that Atleti icon Luis Aragones rued not keeping hold of possession in the 1974 final, when Atletico were leading Bayern Munich until the final moments, only to concede an equaliser and lose the subsequent replay.

Koke admitted that similar sentiments had crossed his mind.

“Of course. I’ve been through a lot of things this week,” he added.

“In a move we could have used up more time or gone into the corner. There’s a lot going through your head but I can’t do anything now.

“I don’t think about it because we can’t go back and play the game.

“It was a shame but both we and the fans should be proud of what we’ve done. I think we made history and we will continue doing so.”

Koke also dismissed the suggestion that Madrid’s celebrations were inappropriate or disrespectful to the beaten side.

“I think it’s a Champions League final and they were very happy to have won. There’s no getting around it,” he argued.

Asked if Atletico could go to the final again next season, Koke lamented that it was unlikely but insisted Atletico wouldn’t suffer if they lost important players.

“It’s very, very complicated. We have won the League against two of the best teams in the world and that’s to be very proud of,” he said.

“Next season we have to start the new competition trying to get back there, fighting to be champions.

“If it’s a true that a colleague is going, I’m sure the club will sign another that will do just as well.

“We have a very good group and I hope we can keep it.

“The leader of the locker room is the boss. Our strength and togetherness, not a specific player.

“One player doesn’t win games. To get wins we all have to help.”

Koke elaborated on the role of Diego Simeone in his development as a player.

He added that should Tiago leave, he would be honoured to captain the side in his place.

“The Coach has given me a lot of confidence from day one and I have tried to return it with my game,” he said.

“It would be nice. I grew up here but to be captain is complicated.

“If I’m chosen by the Coach and the squad then I would be delighted.”

Koke also stressed that despite talk of interest from Barcelona, it is his intention to stay at Vicente Calderon.

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