Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke believes playing for manager Diego Simeone is a way of life.
The product of Atletico’s youth system has been with the club since he was eight years old. Now, at 23, he is a Spain international and is considered one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Koke has been an integral part to Atletico Madrid’s success over the past three-and-a-half seasons helping the team win a Europa League title, UEFA Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Copa del Rey and La Liga title – while also finishing as Champions League runners-up last season.
In an interview with GQ Magazine, the midfielder credited his and the team’s success to Simeone’s influence over the players.
“‘Cholismo’ is a way of life at this club, a philosophy of living certain moments in your life,” Koke told GQ Magazine – who named him ‘Man of the Week’.
“Simeone and I need each other. He needs me on the pitch and off it he is my coach. I’m very happy he is with us and is staying for many more years.”
Earlier this week, Simeone signed a contract extension with Atletico Madrid that will see the Argentine remain at the club until June 2020.
Atletico are currently fourth place in La Liga and have advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League where they will face their city rivals, Real Madrid. However, even though they are still alive in the race for La Liga and the Champions League, Koke does not see his team as the favorites in either competition.
“Real Madrid and Barcelona are two very big teams. In the league our aim at the moment is to finish third, although we still have to defend our title,” Koke added. “We know it’s not easy but nothing in life is impossible, as we showed last season.
“In the Champions League we struggled to reach the quarter-finals but we’re happy with the work we’ve done so far and are looking forward to the ‘European derby’ with Real Madrid.”
The product of Atletico’s youth system was then asked his feelings about playing alongside Fernando Torres.
“For me, it’s a source of pride to play with him. He is a role model in the dressing room and helps the rest of us to continue improving,” Koke responded.
Koke was then asked if he could be the ‘new Torres’, since both players came through the club’s youth academy.
“Fernando Torres? There’s only one,” the midfielder concluded.
Programming note: The Euro 2016 qualifier between Spain and Ukraine will be shown LIVE today at 3:30pm on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.
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