Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann – ‘He opened my mind, I see glimpses of myself in Diego Simeone’

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann and his manager Diego Simeone are not often compared stylistically, one a gloriously technical forward and the other a rock-hard competitor in the middle of the pitch, but the Frenchman says he sees bits of himself in the Argentine.

Griezmann has been on an incredible redemption arc at Atletico Madrid since he returned to the club from Barcelona, and revealed that the pair continued to have a relationship while he was in Catalonia. Two summers ago Griezmann returned on loan after two years at Camp Nou.

“He told me that I deserved the best, that he was not going to stand in my way because I had given everything for him and for the club, and that he wished me luck in everything. We never cut off our relationship. I remember being a Barca player, talking to him, about our daughters, about football matters, him and me, we never cut it off.”

While Griezmann shied away from calling Simeone a father figure, he did tell La Liga that El Cholo was the one who opened his horizons to becoming a great player as opposed to a very good one.

“Yes. I don’t know about the word ‘father,’ because that is a big thing to say, but he’s the person who made me see that there are no limits, that I could reach the very top. He opened my mind at a football level, but he also taught me a lot in terms of life. He is someone that I see glimpses of myself in, how he is with his daughters, with his sons. We’re very similar in that sense. For me it is a source of pride to work for him and play for him.”

Griezmann has spoken often and proudly of winning the fans back, having earned their ire with a move to Barcelona. He was under no illusions that it would be hard work though.

“Yes, it’s true that when I came back, I already knew it was going to be difficult, but that was natural. The goal was to go back and do everything to win the love of the fans again. I remember telling Aitor, who was always in charge of my affairs, “I want to return to Atleti.” He told me that it was going to be very difficult, that I was going to have people against me. I asked him and my sister, who is my representative, to get me back there, and I wanted to take care of everything else. I knew that in the end I’d get it done, because of my way of fighting, of working, that I would win them over.”

“I wasn’t certain that I’d ever have so much affection from the fans again, certainly not as much I feel today, but I did know that they wouldn’t boo me, that I was going to have a neutral relationship with them. But now I’m feeling a lot of love. In the end that did me good and made me the player I am today. In my first spell here, I was only a striker; now I am a much more complete player.”

Since returning, Griezmann has become the leading goalscorer in Atletico Madrid history, surpassing Luis Aragones’ total of 174 goals. Goals such as his Copa del Rey winner against Real Madrid do little harm to his legacy either, but there is little doubt that in bringing Griezmann back, Simeone has arguably the best La Liga player in 2023 back on his side.


Watch Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona this Sunday 17th March, with coverage starting from 7:30pm GMT on Viaplay Sports 1 and ITV4.

Tags Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid Barcelona Diego Simeone
La Liga - Club News