Football News

‘I’ve never seen anything like it’ — Diego Simeone’s “crazy” pre-match rituals revealed by former Atletico defender

By Ben Green

Published: 16:06, 16 December 2021

Former Atletico Madrid defender Guilherme Siqueira says Diego Simeone is “the most superstitious coach in the history of football.”

Simeone has garnered a reputation as one of football’s more animated and vocal tacticians, with his trademark emotional outbursts, flailing arms and impassioned rants before, after, and during games now synonymous with his very up-and-at-em coaching style.

While Marcelo Bielsa is renowned for his perched posture, Sam Allardyce for his occasional appearance up in stands and Andre Villas-Boas for his post-goal delirium, Simeone revels in his status as a quasi-cheerleader for Atleti, screaming from the touchline for the full 90 minutes.

It’s a managerial trait that has served his career in the dugout well, particularly for Atleti, whom across 10 years, the Argentine has collected two La Liga medals, two Europa Leagues, the 2013 Copa del Rey, two appearances in the Champions League final and two Super Cups, as well as a Supercopa de Espana.

Siqueira started both legs in the triumph of the latter in 2014, in which Atleti beat crosstown rivals Real Madrid 2-1 on aggregate in Spain’s equivalent of a domestic Super Cup, with Simeone naturally getting sent off after only 26 minutes in the home tie after he patted the referee’s assistant on the back of the head.

Siqueira, 35, who bowed out of the game in 2017, spent three years at Atleti between 2014 and 2017, and the former Brazilian left-back has now lifted the lid on some of the pre-match antics of one of football’s more curious and emotionally-charged managers.

“Atleti have the most superstitious coaching staff I have seen in the history of football, I have never seen anything like it,” Siqueira told ESPN Brazil.

“We had a protocol when leaving the hotel, on the bus and until the moment of the game. On the bus the same list of music had to always be played. Also in the locker room.

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“When we came back from our warm-up, Simeone was always hitting a ball with his hand against the ground. Before making a circle with the players, he gave the ball to the captain. The captain did the same and it had to be that way, he couldn’t change.

“It took me a while to assimilate his pre-match rituals. When I arrived I was only looking at what I could and what I couldn’t do.”

Siqueira went on to describe, in detail, just how superstitious Simeone was when it came to music. “There was everything on the playlist,” Siqueira continued.

Reggaeton, Spanish, Latin music, but it was always the same pen drive. And good luck to anyone who wanted to change the music.

“One day the music on the bus stopped and he went crazy, like we were already 1-0 down. He shouted ‘put the music on!’ I had to tell him to calm down.”

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