- Atlético: Simeone's problematic transition: young people have a hard time hearing their message
To whom it was more difficult to convince Juanfran Torres (Crevillente, 1985) about his decision to leave for Brazil, apart from Diego Simeone, went to his son Óliver: «It hurt a lot because he had his friends in Madrid. It was the hardest thing, it took me several conversations », recalls the right side of Sao Paulo today, in a telephone conversation with EL MUNDO. “I also talked to Veronica, my wife, and she supported me one hundred percent. She saw that she was suffering a lot because she had gone from playing everything to Simeone and having less and less minutes. I saw myself suffer at home ».
Last spring he began to be clear that his stage at Atlético was coming to an end. «I already smelled that it was best to step aside so that the club did not feel obliged to count on me for what I had done in the past. I didn't want Atlético to leave me, I wanted to be the one to leave him. It was very hard to think of that moment when Atlético had to tell me that he didn't count on me anymore.
Juanfran landed in Sao Paulo four months ago. And in that brief period he has met the same trainers as in his eight and a half years as a rojiblanco. He started at the orders of Cuca and now, with Fernando Diniz , he owns his band. Accumulate 1,073 minutes in 16 games, the last four as a starter. Even from the other side of the phone you can see a clear Brazilian leave. «With Dani Alves we have had many fights. Many brigas as fala here. It is helping me a lot, ”he tells about his most illustrious partner. «People have a lot of respect for me and every day I am happier».
An ordinary day in his new life starts at 7.00 in the morning, in the central neighborhood of Pinheiros where he resides. As you set the clock, take your children (Óliver and Alexia) walking or driving to a British school. And from there to training. «I arrive from the first ones and I usually leave the last ones, as I did in Atlético. Here you train longer but with less intensity. They have welcomed us very well », he insists. Far away is that call from Raí , sports director of Sao Paulo, to expose the project and the subsequent talk with Lugano , director of institutional relations and great friend of Godín. «They sold it to me so well that I started to get excited. I had the offer to renew Atlético but I wanted to live an experience ».
There was a specific moment where he saw it clearly. «After the game against Valencia (April 24), I get home and at two or three in the morning I can't sleep. I saw that it was time to leave and I wanted to cry ». It was when he had the final talk with Simeone. «I had several conversations with him. I wanted him to stay because many people were leaving. I knew that it would be very good for him, but I didn't want to suffer wear and that people would be left without a good memory of me. Everyone knows that I left my life for Atlético and for them. The decision I made was the right one.How many times have you cried in Atlético? Once, when we eliminated Albacete in Copa del Rey (2011), before the Mr. Simeone arrived. I was playing little and had people against me. Then I ended up changing their opinion and showed them over time that the most important thing for me was that shirt. They managed to forget my madridista past. In the Milan final I could not stand because it was the second we lost and the penalty had failed. Some more at home, when I make the decision to leave. Curiously, on the day of my farewell I did not cry. What do I miss most? Especially every day. We have lived in a bubble for eight years. Achieving titles, helping Atlético grow, leaving the Calderón, making a new stadium, the fans, incredible games, ... Every day with the same coach, the Prof, the Monkey, the same utilleros. Now everything is different, we have to adapt to this new situation. You miss many things that you have lived. I do it now and in 20 years. It was something magical and special. What do you think of Trippier? It's a great hiring. I talked to the coach when he had already made the decision, just before I left. We were talking about laterals in the last friendly, in Israel. He already knew the ones in his head. We talked about him [Trippier] and several more. It is giving a good performance and, in addition, Santi [Arias] also squeezed. With them two the right band is well covered. I am already part of the history of Atlético, just as Aguilera, Tomás, did ... Have you been surprised by anything about this new Atlético? When I saw them in preseason, I saw that the ship was still strong. It is very difficult for the ship to sink from one month to the next. There are still many important people: Koke, Saul, Oblak, Adam, Diego Costa, ... I knew the team was going to have a small downturn, but it will recover. I am convinced that it will follow an ascending line from here to the end. There is a great template.
"The world upside down"
Normally, a Brazilian soccer player travels to Europe. But Juanfran altered that order by becoming the second Spanish player to wear the Sao Paulo shirt. «What I have done is the world upside down. The players there don't usually come here. It is a different culture, climate and football. The matches are intense and the transitions very fast. The important thing is to get up as fast as possible. A little as we did in Atlético ».Used to Simeone's method for so many years, does it get weird to have another coach? Fernando [Diniz] is a different coach and has different concepts. It's a more Guardiola profile, more Barça, but he greatly admires Simeone. When the team is without a ball, it exemplifies Atlético's work. We have seen things from Atlético about how they defend and fold back. The master is intelligent and, also, different from Diego [Simeone] in attack. The team is now better. We are Atletico when Simeone started. Fernando needs that extra time for people to believe in us. At Atlético we got it after several years of work so that they would later sing to us that they are proud of us. They believe in him and that is the most important thing. He has many things similar to Simeone and as I miss the master so much, I like to listen to him.
It happens to Morata, Hermoso or Llorente like me. We realized in time that we were born to play at Atlético
He has a contract with the São Paulo team until December 2020. By then, he will be about to turn 36. It may be time for his farewell (or not). In any case, it is clear what your path will be when you run out of your days as a footballer. «I've ever said it. I want to be a sports director and I am more or less clear who my coach could be ».How many coaches have you lived in the rojiblanco dressing room? Tiago, Gabi or Godín have always had a great tactical sense. Those three were for us the greatest references. Fernando Torres could be too, it has wood. Same as Raúl García. Or Philip. I recently talked about what I wanted to be a sports director and I didn't specify who my coach would be. It was funny because Gabi wrote to me: "You didn't specify in the interview but you already told me it was me." It is clear that one of my coaches would be him. I hope it's in Atlético. First you have to leave football and then the clubs that are interested in my project. If Gabi is without a team or Godín or Raúl García, from that dome will come the people that I support. I talk about here a few years ago. It was funny about Gabi and it is clear that it stung. "Don't change me for another one," he said clearly.
His madridista past was buried under eight bright years as a rojiblanco. Today Morata , Hermoso , Llorente or Adam play there. «It has happened to everyone like me. This is what Fernando [Torres] said: 'Everyone is athletic but there are people who don't know it.' We realized in time that we were born to play there, ”jokes Juanfran, whose voice is broken when he talks about his idol. «It was my dad. He took me every day to train and helped me to be the person and the player that I am. I am very sad because he could not see me succeed in Atlético. I played very little with Quique and was suffering a lot. After a game against Deportivo, I came home and was in the hospital for a heart attack. He left me very soon and could not see everything I got later. Dad had to be more careful and would be with us now. I would see everything we have achieved. I would have enjoyed like a child ».
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