'When I watch Atletico, I see Simeone in the players'

BFC striker Braulio Nobrega speaks of his love for his old club as it was there the club’s new forward learnt his trade, graduating from the youth teams, playing for the reserves, before finally making his La Liga debut.

Nobrega was not exactly a success at Atletico and he moved on, signing for Mallorca, Getafe and later Real Zaragoza in the Liga. He turned out in the Spanish second division for a few years, before arriving in India via Cyprus.   -  Getty Images

Atletico Madrid's glittering new stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano, holds no charm for Braulio Nobrega. “It's all business,” he shrugs. “It's beautiful but you can't move the history there. It's just not the same.” Atletico's previous home was, he admits, a crumbling old place with parking issues and a road passing under one of the stands, but it is also irreplaceable. “The [Vicente] Calderon is here,” Nobrega says, tapping his heart. “I'm sad that it is finished.”

It was there that Bengaluru FC's new forward learnt his trade, graduating from the youth teams, playing for the reserves, before finally making his La Liga debut. “Those were the best days of my football career. I played with a number of top players like (Diego) Forlan, Sergio Agüero, and Fernando Torres. Those are my best memories.”

Nobrega's time at Atletico also coincided with Diego Simeone's second spell at the club as a player. The Argentine is now the manager there, and has, since taking over in 2011, turned the team's fortunes around. “I played with Simeone many years ago. I know what kind of character he is. And slowly he has instilled that same character in the side too. Eleven players play like one player. All fight, all defend, all attack. Today, when I watch Atletico, I see Simeone in the players.”

Nobrega was not exactly a success at Atletico and he moved on, signing for Mallorca, Getafe and later Real Zaragoza in the Liga. He turned out in the Spanish second division for a few years, before arriving in India via Cyprus.

There were off-field issues at Zaragoza in 2011 – a conviction for sexual assault – but Nobrega would rather not discuss that now. He prefers, instead, to look ahead. “The Indian Super League is three years old and a lot of players are coming from Spain,” he says. “I am very happy with what I have seen at BFC thus far. We have top quality Indian players in Sunil (Chhetri), Udanta (Singh) and Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu).”

Nobrega now joins a club used to winning trophies but to be an Atleti fan, they say, is to suffer. Nobrega bursts out laughing when asked about the suffering. “Yeah, it's true. History says Real Madrid is always happy. Atletico always suffers.” His son Abraham, though, has different allegiances. He is a striker for Real Madrid's U-13s, averaging 30 goals a season according to the father. “I love Atletico,” he smiles, “but I'm really happy my son plays at the biggest club in the world.”

  Dugout videos