Cerezo: “These are the best years in the history of Atlético de Madrid”

Enrique Cerezo (February 27, 1948, Madrid, 75 years old) turns 20 as president of Atlético. He started in office on May 28, 2003 in a situation very different from the current one, with an Atlético team that had lived two years in hell. Now it is one of the strong clubs in European football. The president recounts with AS what that trajectory has been like. He says that he doesn’t know how many years he will be in office but he feels excited about a challenge: inaugurating the red and white Sports City.

He celebrates 20 years as president of Atlético…

Twenty years have passed since 2003, it seems like yesterday, 20 more years since he has one.

Now Atlético is a different club than it was then.

Yes, it is a different Atlético, new, important and, above all, European.

The team, when you became president, had been in hell for two years.

Sportingly, the club has had magnificent, bad and worse seasons. In 2003 the situation was different, difficult, he was in Segunda a few years ago, the promotion after two years in Segunda gave us fresh air to get out of the sporting crisis we were in and little by little we have been working hard and re-emerging what we have always thought Atlético has to be. We are very lucky to have Quique Sánchez Flores, it was a year that pushed us to the eleven of later. It was very important for a wonderful crowd, who have been enjoying these years like no one else on the team.

Fernando Torres pulled the car at a very difficult moment, he was the flagship in that tough stage…

Torres has been, is and will be an important character in Atlético. As a player he was everything here, he gave everything in a very difficult time, he behaved like what he is, a gentleman, a gentleman. The circumstances were that he grew, grew, and he had to grow more. The best solution was for him to go to Liverpool. There he had magnificent seasons in England, he established himself as a footballer at the European level, when he finished his commitments, we played him back, he came to Spain, he had great seasons here and now he is our coach.

“Fernando Torres behaved like what he is: a gentleman. He had to grow more and that’s why he left ”

The departure of the Child

Torres left, but Forlán arrived who together with Agüero formed a legendary couple.

Agüero always say, said and will say that he has been one of the best to have passed through this club. He left in an unexpected way, no one knows why. But we are left with good memories, good goals, with his plays… He came as a child and he left as a man. We were able to enjoy that time of a person here. Forlán, like Kun, managed to win the Golden Boot in Europe. It was a great time and it was a period of great players.

And, when Atlético hit bottom, Simeone arrives. How does he remember it?

Simeone’s arrival occurs because the team in December was not going well. We were lucky to meet Diego Pablo Simeone, who had trained in Italy, in Argentina, it was a bet, we did not see it as a risk, because we were completely sure that he was going to do a great job and he had shown his love for the club . He had great hopes of coming to Atlético, he went ahead, but he went ahead for good, it’s eleven years, very difficult to happen in Spain and in Europe as well. He has been lucky that his work was rewarded with titles, he will be a coach who will remain in the memory of all athletes.

Your contract ends in 2024 and at the end of this season they will talk about your future, although you have already said that you will stay as long as you want…

El Cholo will be there until the day he wants. The day he wants to leave, he will leave. Let it be in a long time. At least another ten years from now.

“Hopefully Simeone can stay for many more years, another ten”

Future

What has been your best memory as president?

One has great memories, the best was the day we won the Europa League. It was the definitive resurgence of Atlético. Then, the inauguration of the Metropolitan. He has given an impressive life to the public, to society and to everyone who comes to visit the stadium. It is one of the great things that have been done in recent years. And I insist, having the great luck of winning the first Europa League was very important. A boost to continue well. I also remember difficult moments, which should not be forgotten, reaching the finals is difficult, we lost due to bad luck. Not on the contrary. You are winning, they tie you at the last minute… We could have three European Cups and we don’t have any.

Reach? It is the little that remains to be won…

That’s where we are. Let no one doubt that we came out thinking that we can win it. This season we haven’t had a good Champions League, but we didn’t start the season well either and we finished well. We always have to be in the top three, play a good role in the Champions League and go as far as possible in the Cup. We have completed two of the three, the Champions League failed us, but hey, next year.

Historic Atlético players, like Koke and Giménez now, have said that they dream of that moment of winning the Champions League. Does the president of Atlético also dream of winning that Champions League?

We always dream, we have an Intercontinental when it was the World Cup. Why not dream of winning the Champions League? We have been three times on the verge of achieving it. For minutes, seconds, we didn’t make it. Bayern’s is inexplicable, but it happened. We could have three and we don’t have any. The fourth time will be the charm.

What was the worst moment in these years?

The worst moment was when the club went to court. We had to litigate six or seven years with the courts, with judges and prosecutors, they were very bitter years that thanks to the work and effort of Jesús Gil, Miguel Ángel Gil and I managed to overcome the legal action and although we knew that there was absolutely nothing, we had to wait six years.

Enrique Cerezo, in the Metropolitan.
Enrique Cerezo, in the Metropolitan.INMA FLOWERSACE DAILY

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All those who came have been because we agreed that they should come and they wanted to come. We have told very few players to come and they did not want to. Very few, if not none. Everyone who came agreed with our needs and budgets. And according to that sporting risk that may or may not work. Fortunately we have not had bad luck.

What players do you stay with?

It’s hard. Great names have passed at Atlético but none should be detracted from. Some have been passing through, but those who have been there for three or four seasons must be paid a great tribute. We must send everyone a big hug, tell them that they are loved, appreciated and admired.

Are we facing the best Atlético in its entire history?

These eleven years are the best for the club in the history of Atlético. Where more titles have been won in a short time and in the last eight years two Leagues just like Madrid and Barcelona. It is something very important. And we have won them with players in front like Messi, like Cristiano Ronaldo and we are there fighting, working, and we have been participating in the Champions League for eleven years. There will be very few clubs in Europe that can do it. It is a routine and normal thing.

With which presidents have you gotten along better?

I’ve gotten along with everyone. We have not had any problems with anyone and if there has been a small problem, not a big problem, we have tried to solve it, talking, dialoguing and keeping everything the same. I met and was lucky to be with them, with two great presidents, who were Vicente Calderón and Jesús Gil. As I was lucky enough to be with them, I think they are phenomenal…

“We could have three and we don’t have any. For minutes, seconds, we didn’t make it”

Champions

There is a lot of speculation about whether he will continue for a long time at the club. In other words, is there Cerezo for a while at Atlético?

We now have only one thought, that we have started, the Sports City. The athletic fans and Madrid are going to have a Sports City that is going to be impressive. Everyone who comes will be amazed, apart from the fields, the mini stadium, the wave, the set will be spectacular. We have already started, I estimate that in a couple of years we will be ready to inaugurate the Ciudad Deportiva.

Atlético breaks records every year in terms of members, subscribers, supporters clubs…

The member is delighted with Atlético. It is true that we had a small problem due to the nostalgia of leaving the Calderón. When they have come here, they have seen the comfort, how comfortable it is inside, how they have their seats, they park well, they have the subway… We were very well in the Calderón and it was time to do a remodeling. The Vicente Calderón was 60 years old, it was a stadium with aluminosis problems… It has been under continuous review. We have all overcome all of that. The nostalgia remains for one, we all remember the great afternoons, the great games, the great players who passed through there. But we are on another line. One of my great memories is the inauguration of the Metropolitan Stadium in September 2017.

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered for these sporting seasons being well. And because of what we are going to leave, when we leave it, which will be the stadium, the Sports City and the name of Atlético in an unbeatable position so that when we have to leave, God knows when, Atlético will continue to be the same as it has been until now. .

“Football is not a war and you have to come to the stadium to have fun. And if your team wins, much better”

Vinicius case

What do you think of everything that happened with Vinicius in recent days? It does not seem very normal that in the years we are in, in the 21st century, people still go to football matches wanting to insult…

If you want me to tell you the truth, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. But times and circumstances are occurring as they are occurring. We all have to fix it or try to fix it. But you have to fix it well and normally. I think it will be possible to achieve. And we all have to collaborate. And when I say everyone is everyone, we have to collaborate.

You have always downplayed football, that excessive passion and more than once indicated that people have to go to the stadium to enjoy themselves.

I have always said that I am in football to have friends, not to have enemies. You have to come with friends, parents, children, grandchildren and spend a cheerful and happy afternoon. If you lose, bad luck, nothing happens, you will win. Because you lose, because you have a bad afternoon or because things don’t go well for a player, you can’t set up a circus as if it were a war. Soccer is not a war, it is not a life and death battle, it is coming to have a fun time to see your team play well and win. If he wins, much better.

We have barely talked about Atlético next season. Will he sign any super crack?

Several things must be clarified: Atlético has to live off the income it has. Right now, thanks to the League, the issue of the accounts is very controlled and no one can exceed it if they do not have the possibility of being able to exceed it. It is the first point. And the most important thing is that we will record what interests us. We will have the players we can afford. Sportingly we will try to play a good role in the Champions League, and if it is to win it better. In the League, the same. And in the Cup, you have to go as far as you can and if it’s possible to win it, the better.

Enjoy this anniversary and hopefully there will be more success for Atlético.

Hopefully there will be many more. I want to thank the fans for their good behaviour, their way of thinking about football and for thinking that Atléticos are no different. It’s that we have to be different.

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