Gabi played under Simeone at Atletico and under Xavi at Qatari side Al Sadd. He also played for Getafe and Real Zaragoza, and was primarily known for his tackling ability, tenacity and capacity for hard work.
Gabi said that Xavi’s approach opened up his view of the game, but that he feels Simeone’s more practical style is more applicable to a wider range of footballers. Gabi won La Liga with Simeone in 2014 and lost two Champions League finals with Atletico to city rivals Real Madrid.
“Sharing a dressing room with Xavi, as a player and as a coach, was something very positive,” Gabi told Marca. “I had come from a way of playing [with Cholo Simeone at Atletico] that was the opposite style to Xavi. It opened my mind.
“It’s obvious that I took more things from Cholo. He got the best out of me, I won a lot with him and I have been part of a very ambitious team. We weren’t the best technically, but we were the best in terms of our belief.
“I may want possession, but that doesn’t always lead you to win. It’s a difficult idea to carry out. But the point is that Xavi has always won with his philosophy. That’s why he doesn’t conceive football in any other way.”
Gabi was Atletico’s captain during his second spell at the club under Simeone, embodying Cholismo for many observes. His 417 appearances for Los Rojiblancos make him the eight-highest appearance holder in the club’s history. He retired from the game at the age of 37 last week.
Xavi is one of the most decorated footballers in the history of the game. The Catalan has won, amongst many others, eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Featured image courtesy of Sky Sports.