Arda Turan has explained how he sought divine intervention during Atletico Madrid's penalty shootout against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

The midfielder was spotted kneeling to the ground and saying his prayers at sudden death of Los Colchoneros' last-16 second leg a fortnight ago, while the rest of his teammates huddled together.

Atleti eventually pulled through 3-2 on penalties, with Arda's conduct during the shootout now considered iconic, but the Turkey international maintains his act of faith was not for the cameras.

“I don't usually watch penalties,” he told Turkish daily Hurriyet.

“I turn away [from them] and pray, but [against Leverkusen] I forgot [to do so] at first, probably due to all the emotion.

“I remembered what Miranda said to me, 'you always pray', and that's when I turned around and did.

“Some people think it was for show, but I don't care. God knows what's in my heart. I prayed because I meant it.

“We'll give everything to reach the semi-finals. [Real Madrid] have some of the best players in the world.

“Winning a League which they compete in is very difficult, but we did it. I also think we were better than them in the Copa [del Rey].

“We're a strong team and I'm proud to be a part of them. I've developed as a player [at Atleti] and we have a great squad.

“Last season was special, but it's over now. The Champions League final was very dramatic, but although many players have left [us since then], we're still giving perfect performances.

“[Qualifying for the Champions League next season] is our main objective, and we have 12 games left before the season ends.”

Tags Arda Turan Bayer Leverkusen