Saul Niguez would sign a lifetime contract with Atletico Madrid now if it was offered, such is his happiness at Vicente Calderon.
The midfielder has spoken to AS about all things Atletico, starting with his early days at the club, having been on the books at Real Madrid.
“I had non-sporting problems then, the things a child of 11 or 12 does when they’re away from their family and friends, but it helped me grow and mature,” the Elche native admitted.
“It was a bad experience. The one who opened the door to Atleti was the same coach I had at Madrid, Pepe Fernandez. When the season [at Madrid] ended I went back to Elche.
“He called and told me about Atletico. I didn’t even think about myself. I knew he was a good person, he trusted me and would take care of me. I’ll be forever grateful.
“I’ve fulfilled a dream I had since I was tiny, when I arrived at Cadete B. The daily effort is the best way to thank the club for what they have given me.
“Everything is going well this season. I made a silly mistake against Eibar but I knew it wasn’t decisive. Then I scored to make it 2-1 and that was important. I knew we’d win.
“Centre-back [Saul’s position against Eibar] isn’t where I play but it’s not where you play but how you help the group. If I play in defence then I work to learn the moves as quickly as possible.
“I’m the youngest of three brothers so my age meant I was always the goalkeeper, or the one who had to get wet when the ball went in the sea.
“When I started at Elche I was a forward because I was small and fast. I grew 10 or 15cm in a year when I went to Madrid! I struggled to adapt to my body. Pepe Fernandez was the first to put me in midfield.
“I’ve always played where I could be most useful. The best thing for a player is to be able to play various positions even if it isn’t where you’re most comfortable.
“I prefer central midfield, no doubt. I’m not the classic quick winger, I tackle. Atletico’s wide players go inside. I play best as a No 6 or a No 8, but I like to get forward. Wherever I play, I won’t avoid working.
“I’d stay here forever. Atletico has given me everything. It’s my club, my home. If I was offered a lifetime contract I’d be happy to play here until my legs gave up.
“Back to Elche? Well, I don’t want to close any doors. A dream has been to share a dressing room with my brother [Elche’s Aaron Niguez], who is closest to me in age.”