Football

Simeone extends Atletico Madrid contract to 2020

Diego Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is set to continue for another three years after the Argentine renewed his contract till 2020 yesterday.

Since taking charge in 2011, Simeone, 47, has transformed the club's fortunes, turning Atletico from perennial underachievers to serial contenders both domestically and in the Champions League.

However, having lost in agonising fashion twice to local rivals Real Madrid in two Champions League finals, Simeone has turned his back on lucrative offers elsewhere for the challenge of making Atletico champions of Europe for the first time in their history.

Simeone has already delivered five trophies, the highlight of which was ending Real and Barcelona's hegemony of Spanish football with a first La Liga title for 18 years in 2013/14.

Yet, the Champions League has continued to allude Los Rojiblancos with Real their conquerors in all four seasons since Simeone led them back into European football's premier competition.

Atletico were seconds away in the 2014 final before Sergio Ramos's injury-time header forced extra-time and Real ran out 4-1 winners. Two years later, penalties were needed to separate the two in Milan in a defeat so painful Simeone described it as a "death".

Simeone was tempted to walk away last summer.

Having initially agreed a contract to 2020 back in 2015, he asked for the deal to be cut by two years till 2018.

That appeared to open the door for an exit with another of his former clubs Inter Milan, freshly flushed with cash thanks to a Chinese takeover, among those interested.

Yet, Simeone now seems set to add stability to a new era for Atletico as they move this season to the new 68,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

"The journalists continually ask me if I am going to stay and, yes, I am going to stay," Simeone told fans as Atletico bade an emotional farewell to the Vicente Calderon at the end of last season.

"And do you know why I am going to stay? Because this club has a future and that future is all of us." - AFP

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