Juanfran: “The level has been set so high that Atleti is now required to win one title per year”

Three years ago he left Atlético, but Juanfran has not erased the “we” from his mouth. It is impossible. It can not be anymore. Juanfran Torres and Atlético de Madrid are two words merged in the same person. Him. The former Atletico player, one of the club’s great legends. Yesterday he worked as a coach in an event with Mahou at the Metropolitano (“But I’m warning you that I’m not going to be a coach, eh,” he joked, “only here, only today, with Mahou”). Coach of more than 400 kids who were able to play football on the grass of the rojiblanco field, embraced by his dome, now that the 2021-22 season has ended at home. Juanfran appreciated it. How the demand of the club has risen in these years. On his shoulders, for example. And those of those who were companions and will always be brothers. Gabi, Godin, Raul Garcia. Koke remains in the team. The essence of these men he grew up on. Today it sounds like little to qualify for the Champions League. Juanfran remembers how important it is.

Athletic Shield/Flag

-What conclusions does Juanfran draw from Atlético’s season? Above all it has been very irregular…

-Yes. Especially after that Manchester here at home, we had some somewhat irregular games, because we were close to first drawing and then coming back from the tie. But one more year in Champions. The team comes from being champion last year. I understand that people are happy with everyone’s work, we are all with them. From the outside, which is what we have to do, we have to support them and renew ourselves a bit for next year and fight again for the titles, because this Atlético team always has to fight for everything.

-How important is it to enter the Champions League?

-For me, it is very important. It gives you a stability that the club needs at all levels. For the fans, for the club and more than just notes, it is clear that after so many years we have set the level so high that now Atlético is required to be among the best or win a title per season and that is not easy at all. And when a title is not won, it seems that it has not been a good season. But, for me, getting into the Champions League is very important. I want, like all Atléticos, that we become champions every year, like last year, this one could not be and next year we will return to the fray.

-In the Cholo documentary, you told how in the Milan final the penalty that you took did not touch you, but Carrasco…

-The story is what it is, I already told it. Later I know that Yannick was a little confused, then I talked about it with him. I consider it as if it were my family, we have played many years together. These are situations that have happened, in other teams, in other situations. And the thing is clear, I have no problem with Yannick, neither does he with me and this is the important thing.

-Is there Cholo for a while? Or are the criticisms unfair?

-Well, it’s that the coach has been criticized after only a few years at Atlético. And I remember it at the Calderón, in some change, that they have whistled, as they have whistled me, they have whistled everyone, at some point, because the fans at that moment are not happy. But for me, the coach hopefully can continue with us for many more years. We have a great squad, coach, wonderful stadium. Hopefully we can all be in the same direction together, because when things have gone well and we have all gone in the same direction, things have improved. I trust the coach. Hopefully the club too. And the fans.

– Do you understand that today’s demands are such that only winning is worth it?

-Sometimes winning is not the most important thing. Our people have been proud for many years, whether we win titles or not, of the team’s work, of the growth that the club is experiencing. There will be other clubs that only care about winning. We have won and we have also known how to win after defeats, and grow. Atlético has grown a lot and it’s normal for everyone to want us to win titles, but I’m left with the fact that the team is always showing its face. The fan is always proud. It is clear that there are times. Some a little more, others a little less, but we can’t control criticism, everyone. I am athletic and I will always support the team. Things go well or things go badly. It is one of our essences and does not have to change.

-You left, Gabi left, Godín left. Now Suárez is fired… How are these absences managed?

-The players pass, the club stays. There are players, Gabi, Godín, Raúl García, players who have given a lot to this team, club, and then it is very difficult to compensate for that absence. But then others come and what people want is to see their players, whatever their name, give their lives for this shield. And I hope that those who are here next year continue to give everything as we all have given all these years for Atlético. And if they do, the fan will be happy. Life? It is normal. Now it’s my turn to live another life. To Godín in another place, to Raúl in another place, to Gabi. We still have Koke, who has to stay there no matter what. And, hopefully, what I want most is for us to make good teams and for people to be proud.