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Homage to Koke: Simeone, Torres, former Atletico Madrid stars pay tribute to captain



Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

When Atletico Madrid faced Sevilla in La Liga this past weekend, captain Koke reached a huge personal milestone. Starting the game, the Spanish midfielder became the player with the most number of appearances in the history of the club, going past Adelardo Rodriguez.

The 30-year-old has been at the club throughout his career and has been a mainstay in the side for a decade or so. In the process, he has stepped out on the pitch for Atletico Madrid 555 times, most by any player.

And earlier today, the club held a homage ceremony in honour of their captain’s record, where he was felicitated with a plaque to commemorate his achievement. At the same time, the previous record holder, Adelardo Rodriguez was also honoured by the Rojiblancos.

Speaking at the event, Koke said: “I feel very nervous. It’s a very special day for me, it was last Saturday. Today I have here someone who has been a part of me since I started my career until today. They have all contributed their grain of sand to be the person I am.

“Beyond fighting for Atletico Madrid, which is what I’ve felt since I was little, there are the values ​​that my parents have transmitted to me and those that each one of them has transmitted to me and that is why they deserve credit for my having achieved this.”

Looking back at his career, Koke said that he felt proud of everything he had achieved at Atletico Madrid, saying: “Reviewing my career I feel proud. There are many mixed feelings, but in the end, it’s about feeling what you do. I told my colleagues the other day: it’s important to feel identified with what you do and with what you feel.”

He further mentioned that he wanted to continue for much longer. After Koke spoke, tributes followed for the skipper as fellow captains Jan Oblak, Jose Maria Gimenez and Stefan Savic took to the stage to congratulate him.

“Koke, first congratulations, what you have achieved is wonderful and any child in the academy dreams of it, just as you dreamed of it at the time,” Gimenez said.

“Thank you for the colleague you are, for the person you are, and because from the place you had, you guided us with a word, but above all with an example. May you continue writing this beautiful story, which as You said, I’m not done yet.”

The Master and the Apprentice (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Manager Diego Simeone also lauded his ward, saying: “I was lucky as a coach when I arrived to find a young boy with many intentions, a lot of enthusiasm, who was growing and learning from all the teammates he had and who marked the path that he is marking today.”

“We already talked about it in the locker room when we congratulated him: a person with commitment, with responsibility, always leaving aside the place that he has in each game looking for the best for the team. That is the way to go.”

Then several former Atletico Madrid stars like Tiago, Luis Suarez, Gabi, Juanfran, Raul Garcia, Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Radamel Falcao, among others, sent messages to Koke through a pre-recorded video.

“What you are achieving is thanks to your effort and sacrifice. Every day you earn your job, you are the player who runs the most and who makes his teammates grow the most. Thank you and keep enjoying yourself,” former captain Gabi said.

“You have a big heart and that is the most important thing to grow in this club. Things are going so well for you because of the big heart you have. I ask all the players to look at you so that they know why things are going so well for you,” Juanfran said.

Another video filled with messages from former stars like Dani Martin, Rodri, Lucas Hernandez, David de Gea followed.

Koke also received well wishes from Barcelona icons Xavi Hernandez, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets, along with Spain manager Luis Enrique and ex-Atletico boss Quique Sanches Flores.

Another Atletico Madrid legend, Fernando Torres, also paid tribute to Koke, saying:  “I’m sure Koke feels very proud of what he’s achieving.

“Never change and being the way you are is what has brought you here. Don’t get tired and keep inspiring everyone who come from behind. We need to dream and we know that if you dream big… you can achieve anything.”

Winding up the ceremony, president Enrique Cerezo said: “You only made me have a bad week in these 24 years that we have spent together. When you went from cadet to youth and Real Madrid came for you.

“It is true that I gave my best, but otherwise I would have felt your complicity and If you hadn’t wanted to continue at this club… well, we wouldn’t be living all this. Thank you for your behaviour and your performance.”

Source: Atletico Madrid YouTube

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Atletico Madrid News

Ancelotti talks Courtois, Militao, Bellingham, VAR controversies ahead of Las Palmas vs Real Madrid



Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Coming off a highly controversial game against Almeria, Real Madrid will now travel to Gran Canaria to take on Las Palmas tomorrow as part of the early kick-off.

Carlo Ancelotti spoke about the clash tomorrow, starting off by confirming his goalkeeper for tomorrow, “Lunin will start tomorrow.”

He also added that Madrid were looking to get back to their usual level after back-to-back poor performances, one of which included elimination against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey round of 16.

“We are motivated to return to our best level after 2 bad games.”

The Italian gaffer also commented on the biggest football story in the world today, which was Jurgen Klopp announcing his decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season.

“It’s quite surprising, I understand. Working for a long time with the same club and players lowers your motivation a bit. He’s doing a fantastic job at Liverpool.”

And of course, Ancelotti also spoke about the leaked VAR audiovisual, some of which are highly controversial for all parties involved. Barcelona coach and players have also commented on the same, in light of the Negreira case.

“They have talked a lot. Everyone knows what has happened in the last 20 years in Spanish football. The Civil Guard is carrying out an investigations. That is the real problem of Spanish football.”

Luckily for the manager and fans, all injured players — minus the ACL trio of David Alaba, Eder Militao, and Thibaut Courtois — are available. Jude Bellingham is suspended, however.

“Everyone is available now after the recent period of injuries.”

“Making up for Bellingham’s absence tomorrow? Brahim and Joselu are available options. They were able to show themselves after I relied on them as substitutes,” he added.

And as far as Militao and Courtois are concerned, both of whom tore their ACL early in the season, Ancelotti suggested that they could make their return before the season ends.

“Courtois and Militão both have the option to play this season. The recovery process is going very well, they are training on an individual level. It is February and these types of injuries last 6-8 months, so I think they will recover before the end of the season.”

Source: Mundo Deportivo

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