Nothing came to Diego Simeone's mind after his Atletico Madrid side finally clinched the Spanish League title.
So, he just started laughing.
It came out, he said, and wasn’t something he could control.
“My first reaction was to start laughing,” he said. “It came out naturally. I don’t know why, but I laughed, I just laughed.”
Atletico had just rallied to defeat Valladolid 2-1 and win its first league title in seven years on Saturday. It was the team’s 11th league title and third since 1996 when Simeone still played for the club.
“It was a happy feeling that came from inside,” Simeone said. “We were able to do it again.”
There was a reason for Simeone to be relieved, with the triumph coming after a tense final stretch of the season in which the team blew a big lead and allowed Real Madrid, Barcelona and even Sevilla to get back into the title race.
After the victory on Saturday, there would be no more need for late comebacks. No more need for cheering against opponents. No more need for the “one match at a time” mentality.
But for Simeone, it wasn’t about being relieved. It was about the reassurance the title brought of being part of a successful project at a club that will keep growing.
“In my loneliness before the match, I was remembering about the time when we were bidding farewell to the (Vicente) Calderón (Stadium in 2017), and people asked me if I was going to continue or not, and I said ‘yes,’ I said that I was going to stay because I believed that the club had a future. And I wasn’t wrong. The club has a future.”
Saturday’s league title was the eighth trophy that Simeone helped Atletico win since he arrived in late 2011. He is now the club's most successful coach, surpassing the seven titles Luis Aragonés won with Atletico. Simeone’s other titles with the club include two Europa Leagues, two European Super Cups, a Spanish Super Cup and a Copa del Rey.
“The club is growing, and it can keep growing,” the 51-year-old Simeone said. “Hopefully we can help it keep growing.”
Simeone’s contract ends in 2022 and club president Enrique Cerezo made it clear on Saturday that the coach will stay for much longer if he wants to.
“I think he has his mindset on staying,” Cerezo said. “He has been with us for 10 years, and we hope that he will stay with us for 10 more years.”
For his part, Simeone said there’s no need to think about his future after such a successful season.
“What is important is what the team and the club did this season, and that it’s constantly growing,” Simeone said.
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