While Atlético Madrid’s weekend victory may not have chilled spines with excitement, the match was a huge moment for the club’s Uruguayan stopper, Diego Godín
With his appearance on Saturday in Atlético Madrid’s 1-0 win over Deportivo La Coruña, Diego Godín has become the non-Spanish player with the most La Liga matches for the Rojiblancos. It is a testament to his enormous status at the club.
Diego Godín arrived at the Vicente Calderón in the summer of 2010, after impressing for Villarreal. The central defender didn’t enjoy a particularly good start to his Atlético career and looked shaky in his first 18 months in Madrid. It wasn’t until Diego Simeone took over as manager in December 2011 that Godín began to show his potential.
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Godín had already showcased his capabilities as a good defender at Villarreal but under the guidance of Simeone, the man who used to play as a No10 in his youth years became a truly world-class defender. In the well-oiled machine of Simeone, Godín took on a prominent role, dominating attackers with towering headers and well-timed interceptions.
The current Uruguay captain was an instrumental part in both the 2012 Europa League win and the historic La Liga win in 2014 which he himself secured with a trademark header to grab the title-winning point on the last match day at the Camp Nou against Barcelona.
Two days that will have left a sour taste in Godín’s mouth, however, are the Champions League finals of 2014 and 2016. On both occasions, Atlético beat the odds by getting there but twice they were defeated by eternal rivals Real Madrid.
Despite those disappointments, Atlético fans will be very grateful to their team for the recent success. In an era where Real Madrid and Barcelona looked destined to dominate Atleti both domestically and internationally, the fighting machine of Simeone surprised everyone with a style of play that might not win a beauty contest but proved to be super effective.
Godín’s role in the system is key. The 31-year-old is seen as one of Atlético’s leaders on the pitch and to take it a step further, Godín personifies Simeone’s philosophy.
His Garra Charrúa spirit, which stands for being streetwise, possessing mental toughness and refusing to give up, has made him a player loved by the fans. His goal against Barcelona and the incredible devotion he has for the club make him a true Rojiblanco legend.
Godín had many possibilities of moving to clubs where he was guaranteed more money, but the Uruguayan has probably not even considered leaving Atlético. It’s unique to see in the current environment and makes you appreciate Godín even more.
A Champions League win would be the cherry on the cake. However, even without it, Diego Godín’s legacy at Atlético Madrid would be enormous.