To speak of Diego Pablo Simeone one automatically thinks of how he symbolises Atletico Madrid. He is one of the few who can claim to have won titles on the banks of the Manzanares as both player and coach. Therefore, in the Vicente Calderon hold him in the highest regard. What few ‘Colchoneros’ remember is that there was a time when the only dream for ‘Cholo’ … to play for Real Madrid!
It was in the midst of the 93/94 season, when Simeone was plying his trade at Sevilla. At that time the Real Madrid was a giant who had sleepwalked into mediocrity. The club didn’t know how to overthrow the ‘Dream Team’ of Johan Cruyff. There was no direction at the club, and they did nothing but sign players aimlessly to try to achieve their goal of toppling the Catalans.
Planning the 94/95 season, Los Blancos identified Simeone as someone to improve their options in midfield. The press said Los Merengues were counting on the Albiceleste to become the new Uli Stielike – someone left their mark and character in the middle. When they explored the potential signing they were given two differing stories, as popular tales say. One good, and one bad.
The latter of those was that Sevilla asked for a fee of 600 milllion pesetas (just over three million euroes) along with two Real Madrid players. The good news was that when Simeone found out about Real’s interest in him he was eager to join the Santiago Bernabeu club. “If I ever leave Sevilla, it would only be for Real Madrid” he indicated in April 15, 1994.
However, the Argentine’s wished would never come true. The Chamartin club dropped their interest in the player once Jorge Valdano, then the Tenerife manager but who had agreed to take over Real Madrid from the 1994/95 season, revealed he would prefer to sign Fernando Redondo as part of his vision for the team.
Simeone did indeed end up in Madrid in the summer of 1994, but not at the Santiago Bernabeu. It was instead at the Vicente Calderon, where he began his journey to become the idol that his is today, with few remembering he had to abandon his dream to play for their biggest rival.