Luis Núñez-VillavearánSpecial Envoy Milan

Special Envoy Milan

Updated Monday, February 19, 2024-9:30 p.m.

27 years ago,

Diego Simeone

left Madrid for Milan. The soccer player Cholo did it, not the coach. Nickname, by the way, given to him by the coach of the Vélez Sarsfield quarry,

Victorio Spinetto

, for the aggressiveness and leadership of the then Argentine player.

These characteristics are what made him a very valuable piece for the clubs in which he played, but they also generated problems in the locker room, such as those that pushed him to leave Atlético

de Madrid

in 1997 for


for 1,200 million pesetas ( 7 million euros), double the amount that the rojiblancos paid


for him .

"They were two of the best years of my career,"


commented in the press conference prior to Tuesday's game and added that he has "great memories" of the players with whom he shared a locker room.


was two years old

when his father signed for




fit into the locker room like a glove. It was a team full of South Americans, with whom the Argentine immediately joined forces.








were his hard core, but within him, the latter was "his little brother." "It was a very nice group because they all had very strong personalities," highlights

Mirko Graziano

, Italian journalist and friend of



Despite this, and despite Gigi Simoni

's experience

on the bench, the Argentine immediately became one of the leaders of the Neroazzurro dressing room. "He was a coach when he played," his friend

Del Zanetti

praised him

. He was a player respected by everyone, especially for what he contributed to a team full of fine stylists. "On the field he put his heart into it," says the Gazzetta dello Sport journalist,

Andrea Ramazzotti

, and Cholo confirmed at the press conference: "I gave everything he had."

Simeone with Ronaldo in an Inter.EM match

That passion contrasted, for example, with the style of


, whom


pushed in training and which was said to be one of the reasons for the Argentine's departure from Inter in 1999. However, those who know say the move that was a mere transaction necessary for


to arrive from the team that Simeone would later join: Lazio.

In fact,


always appreciated the Brazilian, telling those close to him in Milan that he was one of the best players he had played with. "With


on the field, he wins," said Cholo. One of those victories contains an incredible anecdote that Javier


once told


It was on December 22, 2000, in an


match against


that ended with a Neroazzurri victory. All the South Americans had booked a flight to spend Christmas with their families, but the plane left Milan 30 minutes before the end of the match.


managed to delay the trip by two hours and calmed the monumental anger of the passengers by distributing hugs and autographs.

Simeone at an Inter concentration.



was more serious," concedes

Mirko Graziano

, although the journalist reveals that he always joked with him by calling him the way he introduced himself on the radio: "Mirko Graziano, RTL, 102.5."


remembers that, at that time, talking to players was not as rare as it is now. He explains how he managed to get along well with the group of South Americans, with whom he shared tennis matches and enjoyed many meals and confidences. "They always met up for pizza together," recalls the journalist. Pizza and roasts. For the seconds they always chose a restaurant very close to

San Siro



, where they tasted impressive rib eyes, aged steaks or pieces of Blanck Angus.


was not one of the footballers who liked to go out at night. "He was very familiar," say those who knew him. At that time he made many plans with his former wife,

Carolina Baldini

, and his little


for his friends. At that time,


would come into the world , although he was born in Buenos Aires, like his older brother, he would arrive in the summer of his father's last year at Inter.

The family lived in a house in an urbanization on Vía Ippodromo on the corner of Vía Pinerolo. A place chosen not only by the Inter players, but also by Milan. A rare sight of low buildings and houses with a pool and garden in today's Milan, where footballers choose penthouses and


in places like


. In that environment away from noise he shared proximity with the






, of whom he said that "you had to shoot him to take the ball away from him when he had control of it."

Zamorano, Djorkaeff and Recoba celebrate a goal.MARK

Although he could only win one title with Inter, a UEFA Cup that he would snatch from


, a club he would join just a year later, the tiffossi


always had great affection for


. "He was one of the very few players who has been successful at San Siro, he was an idol for the people," says


and recalls the words of a Lazio player in that final who told him: "When I saw Simeone's face, I knew that we had lost the game before entering the field.

Remembered were his two goals against


in the classic

Derby della Madonnina

in 1998. "I've done it, I've done it," he shouted, heading to the bench after scoring one of them. Although that


ended up eluding them in favor of Juventus. It would not be the first time.

Another title that would go to Inter was the one in 2002 and its executioner was none other than


. At that time, the



would score one of the goals in his team's victory against the Neroazzurri on the last day of the league. So much so that he gave the championship to


. "The tifosi would love him as coach, but they will never forget that goal," says Graziano. Simeone did not celebrate it. Tonight, if he scores for his team, it will be something else, although he will once again feel that tingle that we all get when we remember the past. "Tomorrow there will be something inside my body that comes from that time. I will live together, as I did in Rome, with the sensations I had when I was in Calcio," explained Cholo.