Diego Simeone is a proud man.
The Atlético Madrid manager saw his players give the effort of their lives and knock out Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals after a sensational team performance on Wednesday at Vicente Calderón. The Argentinean coach once again created a brilliant game plan to stop the Blaugrana, and for the first time against Luis Enrique, it worked.
But Simeone is not talking about himself. His players, his true warriors, deserve all the praise.
"There is a virtue in this team, with the great work of the four and a bit years we have been together. I'm happy for these players who have come together in this team; I'm not just thinking about reaching the semi-finals, it's more important than that. There are fewer values in society all the time, but we are a group of honest workers who can win or lose. We make ourselves strong with the tools we have.
"Today, once again, we have won a tremendously difficult game – but a very nice one. We never stopped believing; we worked knowing the situation, knowing what we can do. In the first half the game was more like what we wanted; in the second it was closer to what they wanted. They had individuals who could break the game open, but we stayed together and stayed strong.
"We were up against very good opponents, with great history and with players who can change a game in any moment. It was a match between teams with different strengths, and sometimes you win and we won today."
Simeone, source: UEFA.com
Along with the amazing performance of the team on the pitch, we saw a simply spectacular atmosphere created by the Calderón crowd, and that did not go unnoticed by the coach, who is also a part of the crowd.
"These are moments that will not return. They are unique in football. We saw loads of children on our bus journey to the stadium. They believed in us. It was a special day."
Up next, it's the Champions League semifinals. But not before his team faces Granada in La Liga. El Cholo is known for his "Game to game" mantra, and while he is aware of the other three semifinalists, he is not focusing on them now.
"Now I'm not thinking about anything other than Granada, for sure. Manchester City have enormous financial power, extraordinary players. Madrid, Bayern ... the history they have. They are all great teams. But for Atlético Madrid to be among the four best in Europe is a big step – now we can do more."