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From the school run to the stadium, Trippier left in no doubt what La Liga title means to Atletico Madrid fans

8:00 AM WAT 04/06/2021
Kieran Trippier
The England international tells Goal in an exclusive interview how Diego Simeone's side held their nerve in a thrilling end to the Spanish season

Kieran Trippier was under no illusions about what a La Liga title would mean to fans of Atletico Madrid.

Supporters may have been locked out of stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the England international felt the energy around the Spanish capital as the title race intensified.

"You can just feel the passion," Trippier tells Goal. "Even when I'm taking my son to school, there's other parents walking past me and just shouting stuff like 'Vamos!'

"The fans are unbelievable. The most important thing was that everyone had to be safe, of course, because of what's going on.

"Against Real Sociedad, there were thousands outside the stadium and you could hear them chanting from start to finish. When we won the game, there were fireworks going off. So, you can still feel their support even when they're not in the stadium."

Atletico held their nerve in the tensest of title races to secure a first La Liga crown since 2014 and just a second for the club in the last 25 years.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla all dropped points in the run-in but, with their title destiny in their own hands, Atletico battled their way to 2-1 victories in their final three fixtures.

Trippier admits it was difficult to watch games involving their rivals, with every twist having an impact on the title race, and tried to stay focused on his own side.

"I watched a bit of the Barcelona game when they were playing Levante," he reveals, "and when they went 2-0 up, I just thought 'I'll go on my PlayStation' because I was getting... not nervous but I just couldn't watch it!

"My wife sat there for the rest of the game and she started screaming: 'They've equalised, they've equalised!'

"But I've been playing a long time now and I knew it was just about focusing on ourselves. We couldn’t make an impact on any other results, so we just needed to take it game-by-game."

Trippier may be 30 but Atletico’s title triumph is actually the first medal of a career started at Manchester City before taking in impressive spells at Burnley and Tottenham that transformed him into an England regular.

There were plenty of highlights along the way. He played in the Champions League final for Spurs in 2019, when they were beaten by Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano, and scored in the 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia.

However, when Diego Simeone offered him the chance to join Atletico, the full-back spotted a huge opportunity to not only improve his game but also lift trophies.

The Argentine is renowned for his aggression but also instilling defensive discipline in his players. Trippier, therefore, jumped at the chance to play for the meanest backline in Spain.

"You can never rest and it's a privilege to play for him," he says. "He's one of the best managers in the world and before I came out here I thought I wanted to learn off him and I feel like I have done for the past two seasons.

"Yes, he's very intense on the training field, he never rests. He demands a lot.

"But under Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham, we worked extremely hard and it's similar here. They're similar types of managers."

 Luis Suarez, of course, is another member of the Atleti group renowned for having a fiery temperament but he proved ice-cool when the pressure was ramped up during the final stages of a remarkable 2020-21 campaign.

The Uruguayan, who joined from Barcelona last summer for a bargain €6 million (£5.5m/$7m), scored an 89th-minute winner in the penultimate game of the season, against Osasuna, and then clinch the title with his goal in the 2-1 win at Valladolid. 

Suarez had been deemed surplus to requirements at Camp Nou but Trippier says the 34-year-old made an instant impact at Atleti.

"When you see somebody like Luis walk through the door, it gives you a lift," he reveals. "He's won so much in his career and we knew how good he was.

"But he's especially important when you're going through tough times. He speaks a lot in the dressing room because he's been through these moments.

"It helped me because I'd not been in that situation before, of going for a title. So, it's good to have him around. He's always speaking to me during games and at half-time, and it just shows what a winner he is.

"I'd played against Luis a few times and he's horrible to play against, so I'm absolutely delighted to be playing with him rather than against him. He's so clever."

There were plenty who doubted Suarez before his arrival in Madrid but he has well and truly silenced his critics. 

Trippier has done likewise. Some questioned whether Atletico were the right time for such an attacking full-back but he has taken his game to a whole other level in La Liga.

Indeed, his winners' medal is all the proof you need that the Spanish capital was the perfect home for the boy from Bury.

Kieran Trippier wears adidas Nemeziz Superspectral pack, available from adidas.co.uk/football-shoes