The beautiful game of football is definitely one game that thousands of player have risen to the top through their involvement with the game. And as such, they’ve found a way to bring plenty of joy, and memorable moments to the fans, although when it’s time to bid the game goodbye the fans misses them, as their career is finite and they will surely hang their boots.
Naturally, when they hung their boots some of the players pursue a career in the managerial post, sports director, or as an agent, however, all of the coaching badges they acquired after hanging their boots don’t necessarily mean the dressing room experience and their playing experience does automatically make them a successful manager.
As the role of a football manager has evolved over time, not every great player go on to make a great manager, controlling gargantuan sums of transfer money, even some of the greatest managers of all time have never been top professional players. Great manager do have torrid start despite their experience, but sometimes they put themselves in the shoes of their players when they start managing a club and things aren’t going smoothly for them.
Becoming a manager of a professional club is somewhat difficult, it comes with experience as a player, in terms of acquiring the necessary badges, so in this piece, Cheapgoals will look at the life of Diego Simeone as a player and a manager.
The Genesis Of Diego Simeone Playing Career
Before the footballing world knew Simeone as a renowned, tactical, and respected manager of ‘Los Rojiblancos‘ there was Simeone the player, he was a beastly midfielder who always orchestrated the fighting spirit, and the free-flowing play of the Argentine national team, covering the pitch of play with clenched fists.
Simeone is an aggressive soccer star, who bled for every shirt on his neck for the national team and his club with a win at all cost mentality, driven by the ambition to win a trophy and to those who believe in his course fighting to the end through their veins.
All of this is what Simeone was as a player, more reason why he was adored by the many for his talent, aggressiveness, strength, power, and the knack to always fight till the end, his commitment, courage, ruthlessness and his overzealous play is what made him different as a player.
His playing style depicts that of a person holding a knife between his teeth, which he confirmed himself, in fact, his style could be interpreted in many ways, however, it is undeniable that El Cholo played like that of a soldier in a war battle and that has been instilled in him since his days in Italy when he was still very young.
Simeone was born in 1970 in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a young player he had the opportunity to play for Velez Sarsfield as a professional when he joined the academy of the team under the tutelage of Victorio Spinetto who was the youth manager at that time, during his stay with the youth team he learned the ethos of an ultimate warrior that never give up, who always wants to win, as failure is not a friend to El Cholo.
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Growing up as a professional with Velez, due to his aggressive play he earned the nickname ‘El Cholo’ which was the same nickname of former Boca Junior sweeper Carmelo Simeone who played the same style as that of Simeone, and was notable for his aggressiveness, ruggedity, and tenacity back in Boca.
At age 17, El Cholo made his first-team debut for Velez in a defeat to Gimnasia, a match which he instantly made his presence felt and showed how talented he was, and as a first-team player for Velez he played over 28 matches in his first season scoring just 4 goals, and he went on to build a competitive and aggressive style of play which was evident in every of his match for Velez.
Over the years with Velez, he built a well-known reputation for his box to box midfield play, tackles, passes, and the break up of opposition attacking play, although sometimes he can be very lethargic in his play yet his covering of every grass on the pitch is second to none right from his early age.
His three-year stay with Velez brought about his international debut for the Albiceleste in 1998, before the birth of his European career with Pisa, Italy in 1990, the Italian league was the most glamourous league in the world then, as such El Cholo was offered the opportunity to pitch himself against the best of best in the league for Pisa.
His stint with Pisa wasn’t as palatable as he had thought, Pisa was relegated at the end of Simeone first season with them and was unable to gain promotion back to the topflight from Seria B in the following season, as such Simeone made a defining career move to Sevilla in the summer of 1992 and he played under the tutelage of Carlos Bilardo a prominent Argentine manager who also knows the ethos of football.
Bilardo also played an important role in Simeone’s debut with Argentina before his sabbatical following his World Cup defeat, on getting to Sevilla he was reunited with Simeone at the Pizjuan Stadium, Bilardo didn’t last long with the Seville based team spending just one season with a team that had Maradona and they both left at the same time.
Simeone stayed longer with Sevilla before going on to join Atletico Madrid, a cross-town rival with Real Madrid in the city of Madrid and over the years ‘Los Colchoneros or Los Rojiblancos’ has constantly lived in the shadows of ‘Los Blancos’ in terms of winning the trophies, financial power and political might in the city of Madrid. However, if there were ever a club that is ideal for a player like Simeone then it’s definitely Atletico Madrid a team known for its irresistible and aggressive style of play.
In the 1995-96 season, ‘Los Rojiblancos’ defies the odd to achieved the unimaginable under Radomir Antic, as they went all the way to win a double ‘La Liga and Copa Del Rey’ and El Cholo was very instrumental for Atletico Madrid, at age 24 dictating play with his speed, strength and a ferocious tackle to get the ball off the opponent feet.
Simeone was known for his leadership skills at the Vicente Calderon, now Stadio De Metropolitano, and when he took the forefront others followed in full believe of what the young Argentine can do, however having achieved success with Los Rojiblancos he left for Inter Milan in 1997, on getting to Inter he did establish himself as an important player and went on to achieved success with the ‘Nerazzurri’ under the Luigi Simoni.
In his first season with Inter Milan, El Cholo found a lot of joy under Simoni led side, a team that was full of stars like Ronaldo De Lima, Ivan Zamorano, Taribo West, and the team gelled together to win the UEFA Cup in 1998 which put a lot of smile on Simeone’s face.
In 2000, his inexplicably impressive performances for Inter Milan got him a move to one of the top team in the league S.S Lazio, a team tutored by Goran Eriksson full of stars like Sebastian Veron, Pavel Nedved, et al, attacking flair, and the mindset of winners and with the addition of Simeone. The ‘Rome’ based side won the league which was the second in their history, all thanks to the Swedish gaffer.
Having achieved success with Lazio, Simeone returned to Spain for his second stint with Los Rojiblancos in 2003, his soccer career as a professional is gradually whining down, thereafter he also played for Racing Club back in his country, Argentina where he later hung his boots after a fantastic career.
The Genesis Of Diego Simeone’s Coaching Career.
Diego Simeone popularly called ‘El Cholo’ right from his playing days at Velez, Argentina is a name synonymous with power, fearless, and aggressive play during his playing career.
El Cholo began his managerial career with Racing Club youth team known as ‘La Academia‘ as time progresses he also managed Racing Club, and led Estudiantes and River Plate to win the Argentine league, as tantalizing as his stint with the aforementioned teams was, yet we cannot forget in a hurry how going to Catania added more ginger to his managerial career before joining Los Rojiblancos as their manager in 2011.
All thanks to the opportunity given to him by Catania hierarchy to lead the team and the five months he spent with the team, recording some winning streak and critically his great result against a high flying Juventus side, a result that kept Catania in Seria A to avoid relegation.
Having prepared himself well mentality and psychological for the future back in the Argentine league, and of course at Catania, Simeone joined Atletico Madrid in 2011 to succeed Gregorio Manzano, taking over a team he knows well like the back of his hands and a team that appeared confined in the mid-table of the league. The team had achieved success under Radomir Antic in 1995-96 which Simeone played under, and before he joined they’ve also recorded success in the Europa League under Quique Sanchez Flores.
During the reign of Quique Sanchez, Los Rojiblancos were synonymous with finishing in fourth place in the league, critically in 2008 and 2009, in fact in some torrid season for Atleti they finished seventh place going 38 massive points behind Barcelona and just 15 points above the relegation water.
Thankfully to El Cholo when he arrived in Atletico Madrid, he smashed the seemingly untouchable duopoly of ‘Los Blancos’ Real Madrid and that of the ‘Catalans’ Barcelona which both teams had built in the league over the years to win the league in 2014, just three years into his reign as the manager of Los Rojiblancos with relatively limited resources.
Even before he won the league he had already won the club 10th Copa Del Rey, Europa League, and Super Cup in his first two campaigns with Los Rojiblancos, with decent players like Juanfran, Godin, Koke, captain fantastic Gabi, using all of them to achieved the unthinkable in 2014 and 2016 when he took Atleti to the most coveted UEFA Champions League Final, painfully and tragically lost to crosstown rival Real Madrid.
Diego Simeone is by all measures the greatest Atletico Madrid manager, he has been synonymous with the club as a player and as a manager for many decades, even his persona often eclipsing the club itself with how he has mastered the art of thriving in adversities and low budget, which they’ve been thriving well with under the tutelage of El Cholo, and that’s why they’ve been considered one of the most decent side in club soccer.
At the beginning of this new decade, El Cholo and his boys have found themselves in front of a seemingly unpalatable moment in the league, and the Copa Del Rey already knocked out of the Copa and languishing in 5th position on the log, with goals dried up due to some injured players, and to some extent those that have left the club, although some were brought in yet they’re still not close.
However, his legacy with the team will go on in the memories of every Los Rojiblancos faithful, but can Simeone still perform wonder with his current crop of players, and get them back to that period when no one dares talk of playing them with the aggressive style instill in them? its left to be seen.
More so, according to him when he was asked about what he expected of his player, he said “Effort is non-negotiable” which to me means not about effort alone, they could actually still achieve more success under him, although the leagues are suspended now but hopefully if the league’s resumes we could see ‘El Cholo’ and his boys go on and surprise the footballing world.
Featured Image credits: Thesefootballtimes
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.
Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1
Ligue 1 no doubt harbors quite a number of talented players, as such it’s quite understandable for those considered to be world-class players among them to cash out hugely on what they earn at the end of the month.
As of late, the players’ salaries have given indications of solid development, on account of the tremendous income pouring into the game. The fierce rivalry between the country’s top football clubs has brought the nature of the competition higher than ever. The league has more than its own fair share of highly paid players.
Here is a rundown of the top 15 highest-paid players in the Ligue 1
- Neymar Jr – (Paris Saint Germain, – €3.06 Per Month )
Behind Ronaldo and Messi, the Brazilian forward is regarded as the third-best player in world football since moving from Santos to Barcelona in 2013 for a deal reported worth €86.2million.
After apparently growing and widening his status as a footballer with his achievement on and off the pitch, it was evident that the former Puskas Award winner would go on to attract top elite clubs.
With the Parisian club brimming with a lot of cash to flex muscles with high spending clubs, it was just a matter of time before Neymar would join them. Fast forward to 2017, the Selecao captain signed for PSG for a world record transfer fee worth €222million, and since then he’s been an important figure of both the club and their project.
Amidst transfer rumors of him returning to his old home Barcelona, plus the fact that the Parisian are also ready to offer him a new deal that would tie him down with the French side for at least another three seasons.
- Kylian Mbappe – (Paris Saint Germain, € 1.91m Per Month)
As a World Cup winner and one of the best prospects in world football, it’s quite understandable for Mbappe to be among the highest-paid players in Ligue 1 and Paris Saint Germain. The 2018 World Cup winner burst into the scene as a young player for Monaco, making his professional debut in 2015 at the age of 15.
The Frenchman signed for the Parisian club in 2017 on loan, which was later made permanent in 2018. He has shown to be a great prospect for both the club and their project in dominating the Ligue 1 and also flex muscles with the top clubs in Europe.
His permanent transfer to Paris Saint Germain is reported to be worth €180million, making him both the second most expensive player and most expensive teenager. Since joining the Ligue 1 Champions permanently, the 22-year-old has scored over 120 goals for the Parisian club.
However, amidst the rumor of Real Madrid prepping up to break the bank in their quest to bring him down to the Bernabeu, the World Cup winner is still actively the second biggest earner in the league and of course Paris Saint Germain.
- Correa Marquinhos & Marco Verratti – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.2m Per Month)
Since the departure of top players such as Edinson Cavani, Zlatan, and recently Thiago Silva, Marquinhos’s status has risen from being a mere squad player in the dressing room into a leader, captain, and one of the best gladiator of the club.
As a 19-year-old teenager, the Brazilian was signed in 2013 on a five-year deal by Paris Saint Germain from AS Roma for a fee of around €31.4million. And as reported by BBC Sport, the deal was said to be the highest transfer fee for a teenager then, while Sky also reports it to be the then fifth highest transfer.
The current form of the Brazilian makes him rank as one of Europe’s most valuable players, most especially as a player who is currently plying his trade with the best team in France.
According to the transfer market rating, Marquinhos market value currently stands at €70million, as such with his years of experience and playing over 313 matches for the Parisian, it’s no surprise that the club captain takes home €1.2m per month tied with the Italian on the same amount.
As for the Italian, he’s also been a very instrumental player for the team since joining the club nine years ago. There have always been rumors concerning his future, either joining Barcelona or go back to Italy, but as it stands his current contract with Paris Saint Germain would expire in 2024.
- Angel Di Maria – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.1m Per Month)
Since joining the Parisian for €63million after a disappointing stint with Manchester United in 2015, the Argentine winger has continued to prove to the world that he’s still one of the best players in football since leaving Real Madrid.
Di Maria isn’t just rank among the highest earner for doing nothing, he earns his pay through his brilliant performances over the years since joining them, accumulating a total of 251 appearances scoring over 88 goals and 104 assists.
The former Real Madrid winger may not stay in the Ligue 1 with Paris Saint Germain for three years or more, as he’s already moving close to the end of his career. However, with his deal still running that makes him the fourth-highest earner in the league.
- Keylor Navas – (Paris Saint Germain, €1m Per Month)
When Navas joined Madrid from Levante in the summer of 2014, no one ever thought he’s going to achieve quite a number of success with Los Blancos based on where he was coming from and his antecedent as a goalkeeper.
After a successful stint with Los Merengues, the imminent arrival of Thibaut Courtois means the Costa Rican goalkeeper days at Real Madrid are numbered.
With his achievement at Real Madrid, it was evident that the Costa Rican won’t find it hard to get good European suitor to come by, as such Paris Saint Germain came calling for his services in 2019 having been told he won’t be Real Madrid number one going forward into the new season.
Following Navas’s move to the French capital, it means his salary would be on the high side based on his achievement and reputation as a Champions League winner with arguably the biggest club in Europe.
As a Paris Saint Germain player, he earns €1m per month, making the Costa Rican one of the highest-paid players in Ligue 1
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- Mauro Icardi – (Paris Saint Germain, €800,000 Per Month)
The imminent departure of El Matador when Icardi joined Paris Saint Germain on loan means the responsibility of goalscoring would be on the shoulder of the Argentine. The former Inter Milan forward made his loan permanent with the PSG following a strong start in Paris.
The Argentine and controversy certainly go hand in hand based on his antecedent with his previous clubs. Everywhere he goes he has always shown he could lead the line perfectly, and since he joined the Parisian permanently no report of controversy has been recorded concerning the former Nerazzurri captain.
Icardi may not be the poster boy of PSG just like his days at Inter, that doesn’t make him less of a player in the dressing room among other star players like Neymar and Mbappe who are no doubt the face of the club.
- Leandro Paredes – (Paris Saint Germain, €750,000 Per Month)
Juan Bernat – (Paris Saint Germain, €700,000 Per Month)
Presnel Kimpembe – (Paris Saint Germain, €670,000 Per Month)
Ander Herrera – (Paris Saint Germain, €650,000 Per Month)
Wissam Ben Yedder – (Monaco, €650,000 Per Month)
Cesc Fabregas – (Monaco, €600,000 Per Month)
Julian Draxler – (Paris Saint Germain, €600,000 Per Month)
Idrissa Guaye – (Paris Saint Germain, €500,000 Per Month)