Club Atlético de Madrid


OLD NAMES: Athletic Club Sucursal de Madrid, Athletic Aviación de Madrid, Atletico Aviacion de Madrid








Atletico Madrid is the third most successful club in Spanish football. Atletico has won everything there is to win barring the UEFA Champions League.

The club has won 10 La Liga titles, including a league and cup double in 1996. Atleti also has 10 Copa del Rey trophies to its name, 2 Spanish Supercups, 1 FEF President’s Cup and 1 Copa Eva Duarte.

Atletico won the European Cup Winners’ Cup back in 1962 and are 3-time UEFA Champions League runners-up (1974, 2014, 2016). They are 3-time Europa League winners (2010, 2012, 2018) and 3-time UEFA Super Cup winners as well in the same years.

They also have an Intercontinental Cup to their name, which was won back in 1974.

The club has a big rivalry with Real Madrid whom they play against in what is known as the Milan Derby.


Atletico Madrid was founded on 26 April 1903 as Athletic Club Sucursal de Madrid by 3 students from the Basque Country in Spain who were living in Madrid.

The founders formed this club with the intentions of having it be a youth club of their childhood team Atheltic Bilbao, who they were fans of as the club went on to win the 1903 Copa del Rey.

In the following year, those who had a fallout with Real Madrid ended up joining hands with Athletic Madrid. Athletic Bilbao “borrowed” several players of Los Rojiblancos and that helped them win the 1911 Copa del Rey final.

Wanda Metropolitano

Wanda Metropolitano Stadium (Photo by Juan Carlos Lucas/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Athletic Madrid’s first ground was the Ronda de Vallecas and in 1921, the club finally became independent of parent club Athletic Bilbao and moved to a massive 35,800-seater stadium that was built by Compañía Urbanizadora Metropolitana – the company that ran the underground communication system of Madrid. This came to be known as the Estadio Metropolitano de Madrid, which was used up until 1966.

Post 1966, Atleti moved into the Vicente Calderon Stadium that has a seating capacity of almost 55,000 people where they played their football till 2017.

Success after becoming an independent club

Atletico Madrid had a good run during the 1920s. They won the Campeonato del Centro that featured clubs based in the Castile region of Spain, 3 times and finished as runners up in the Copa del Rey in 1921 where they faced former parent club Bilbao.

They met again 5 years later in 1926 but Atletico Madrid knocked out Bilbao but lost in the final once again, this time to Barcelona.

Struggles after joining the Primera Division (La Liga)

In 1928, Atleti were invited to join the first division of Spanish league football known as the Primera Division of the inaugural La Liga to be played in 1929. The club joined the first division and Fred Pentland was the manager but they were relegated two seasons later to the second division known as the Segunda Division.

Atletico made it back into the first division in 1934 but were relegated soon after in 1936 after Josep Samitier Vilalta took over the managerial role from Pentland. The Spanish Civil War, however, gave Atletico Madrid a reprieve as Real Oviedo was unable to play due to the destruction of their stadium because of bombs.

Athletic secured its spot in the first division by beating champions of the Segunda Division – Osasuna, in the playoff game.

Merger with Athletic Aviacion de Madrid and first La Liga title

Athletic Madrid merged with Aviación Nacional of Zaragoza to become Athletic Aviación de Madrid. Aviación Nacional was a team founded by members of the Spanish Air Force, in 1939.

The team was promised a berth in the Primera Division for the 1939-40 season but were denied by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). For this reason, they merged with Athletic Madrid since even the Madrid team had lost 8 players due to the Civil War.

The legendary Ricardo Zamora led the club to its first La Liga title in 1939-40 and they went on to retain the title in 1940-41. German Gomez was the leader of this side and his influence on the game was terrific. His charisma helped the team win consecutive league titles and made Athletic Aviacion a force to be reckoned with.

Athletic Aviacion had an stellar midfield with Gomez, Machin and Ramon Gabilondo, who were tough to beat on any given day.

In 1941, Athletic Aviacion changed its name to Atletico Aviacion de Madrid and finally in 1947, the club decided to get rid of the military association in its name and became Club Atletico de Madrid.

1947 saw the club earn its biggest victory to date against arch rivals Real Madrid as Los Rojiblancos crushed Los Blancos 5-0 at the Metropolitano.

Golden Era for Atletico Madrid

Helenio Herrera

Helenio Herrera
(Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Helenio Herrera and Larbi Benbarek led Atletico to the league title in 1950 and 1951 to do back-to-back for the second time in the club’s history.

However, Herrera left in 1953 and that saw Barcelona and Real Madrid pouncing on the opportunity and starting to win. The remainder of the 1950s was more to try and secure the position of the third best team in Spain as they battled with Bilbao.

In 1957-58, Atleti managed to finish 2nd when Ferdinand Daucik took charge of the team. Atletico qualified for next season’s European Cup because of this success and the club went on a tear in the competition.

They reached the semifinals after beating Irish club Drumcondra, CSKA Sofia of Bulgaria and Germany’s Schalke 04. In the semis, they met rivals Real Madrid in what was an intense affair.

The first leg was won 2-1 by Los Blancos at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Atletico won their home game as well, 1-0. At the time, the away goals rule did not exist else Atleti would have gone through.

Back then, a tie meant a replay in a knockout game, which saw Real then go through 2-1 in Zaragoza.

The 1960s and 1970s saw Atletico breaking through once again as Real Madrid became runaway champions. Barcelona started being challenged by the club.

Atletico won the Copa del Rey back-to-back in 1960 and 1961 as former Real Madrid coach, Jose Villalonga led Atleti to successive final wins over his former club.

Atletico went on to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1962 after beating Italian side Fiorentina 3-0 in the replay.

At the time, this trophy meant a lot to the club as this was the one trophy that the club had that Real did not. The club made the final once again in the following year but lost to English side Tottenham Hotspur 5-1.

Adelardo Joao Felix

Atleti’s Old and New: Adelardo with Joao Felix (Photo by Irina R.H./AFP7/Europa Press via Getty Images)

This era saw some top players like Enrique Collar, Miguel Jones and Adelardo.

Unfortunately for Atletico Madrid, they seemed to always be in the shadow of neighbours Real Madrid as their golden era coincided with Real Madrid’s dominant spell.

Between 1961 and 1980, Los Blancos dominated La Liga, winning an incredible 14 titles during this period! Only Atletico offered some sort of competition to the Galacticos as they won 4 titles during this time themselves.

Atletico did win the Copa del Rey 3 more times during this spell as well in 1965, 1972 and 1976. In 1965, Atletico Madrid became the first team to beat Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in an unbelievable 8 years!

Atletico had some top players between 1965-1974. Apart from Adelardo, the club had some prolific strikers including Luis Aragones, Javier Irureta and Jose Eulogio Garate.

Atletico picked up 3 Argentinian players during the ’70s – Ruben Ayala, Panadero Diaz and Ramon “Cacho” Heredia. They also brought in Argentinian coach Juan Carlos Lorenzo.

Atleti won the league title in 1973 and managed to reached the European Cup final in 1974. The final proved to be too stiff a task, however, as they faced the mighty German side Bayern Munich that featured Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Gerd Muller, Paul Breitner and many more top talents.

Atletico overachieved in the first match they played as they led with 7 minutes to go in extra time, only to be thwarted by a last minute equaliser by Georg Schwarzenbeck who scored from a stunning 25-yard strike. The replay saw Bayern crushing Atletico 4-0.

The Aragones era

Atleti Luis Aragones

Atletico Madrid fans still love Luis Aragones (Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Former player Luis Aragones, took over the coaching mantel for Atletico after the 1974 European Cup final.

Aragones had 4 spells as coach of Atletico – 1974 to 1980, 1982 to 1987, 1991 to 1993 and 2002 to 2003.

He won his first trophy as head coach almost instantaneously as Bayern Munich refused to participate in the Intercontinental Cup, which meant Atleti were invited instead.

They faced off against Independiente from Argentina and struggled in the first leg, losing 1-0. The Spanish club came back and won the second leg 2-0 to lift the title.

Aragones won the Copa del Rey in 1976 and then La Liga in 1977. In his second spell, in 1985, Atleti finished 2nd in the league and won the Copa del Rey once again.

They went on to win the Supercopa later in 1985 as well and made the European Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1986 where they were upset 3-0 by Ukranian champions Dynamo Kiev.

The terrible Jesus Gil years

Jesus Gil became Atletico Madrid’s president in 1987 and ran the club until his resignation in 2003.

Atlético had not won La Liga for 10 years and were desperate for league success. Gil spent heavily to try and get the glory days back to the club and he signed Paulo Futre from European Cup winners FC Porto back then.

The spending did not merit much league success, unfortunately, as Atleti only managed to win 2 Copa del Rey titles in 1991 and 1992.

The closest that the club came to the league title was in the 1990-91 season when they finished 2nd but were 10 points behind champions Barcelona.

Gil shut down Atletico’s youth academy in 1992 as it became a public limited company. In 1994-95, Atletico were almost relegated and were saved by a last day draw.

Vieri Juninho

Christian Vieri and Juninho celebrate a goal for Atletico Madrid (Photo by Rui Vieira – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

New coach Radomir Antic brought in a positive change, however as the squad was overhauled after the dismal showing the previous season. Under Antic, Atletico did the League and Cup double in 1996 and took part in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 1996-97.

Atletico were knocked out by Dutch champions Ajax in the quarterfinals. More spending followed in order to attain success as the club bought top players Christian Vieri and Juninho.

This, however, did not help as the club still struggled to achieve success. Jesus Gil ended up sacking Antic in 1998 and brought in Arrigo Sacchi. He, however, only lasted 6 months and Antic was brought back in for a short while before Claudio Ranieri took over the head coach role.

The Italian took over the side and what followed was disastrous. Atletico had their worst season ever in 1999-00. Gil and the Atleti board were suspended for apparently misusing funds of the club. The off-field controversy seemed to affect the players as the club struggled to perform.

Ranieri handed in his resignation as the club was down in the dumps in 17th place and Antic was brought back once again. The double-winner failed to rescue his side as they were relegated to the Segunda Division.

The 2000s

Atleti had to spend 2 seasons in the 2nd tier as Luis Aragones brought the club back to the top flight from the 2002-03 season onwards. It was Luis Aragones who gave Fernando Torres his debut at the club.

In 2006, Atletico Madrid signed Portuguese duo Costinha and Maniche as well as Argentinian star striker Sergio “Kun” Aguero.

Fernando Torres

One of Atletico’s Greatest Ever – Fernando Torres (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

In 2007, Fernando Torres moved on from his boyhood club to play in England with Liverpool. Luis Garcia and Diego Forlan were then brought in to fill the void left by Torres.

Atletico were not afraid to break the bank as they also brought in another Portuguese – Simao from Benfica and the late Antonio Reyes from Arsenal.

In 2007, Atletico moved out of the Vicente Calderon and moved to the Olympic Stadium, which is now known as the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

2007-08 proved to be Atletico’s best season in the 2000s as they reached the round of 32 in the UEFA Cup, the quarterfinal of the Copa del Rey and finished 4th in La Liga to secure a UEFA Champions League berth in the following season.

This was the first time the club qualified for Europe’s elite competition since 1996-97!

Diego Simeone’s new Atletico Madrid

Quique joined the club in 2009 as coach and Atletico finally achieved some success. After a below par season in the league and finishing 9th, the club went on to lift the Europa League title by beating Fulham in the final in May 2010.

It was the first time that Atleti won a European trophy since 1961-62. They also reached the Copa del Rey final but lost to Sevilla in the final.

Atletico then went on to win the UEFA Super Cup by beating Champions League winners Inter Milan in August 2010, in Monaco.

Diego Simeone

An animated Diego Simeone during a game (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)

What followed was a bad season before Atleti finally appointed Diego Simeone at the helm in December 2011.

Simeone led Atletico to the Europa League title once again in 2012 and went on to win the Super Cup for a second time by beating Chelsea 4-1 at the back of a Radamel Falcao hattrick.

Diego Simeone’s success continued as Atleti won the Copa del Rey by beating rivals Real Madrid 2-1 in an intense final, in May 2013.

The win ended a 14-year and 25-match winless streak in the Madrid Derby for Atletico!

2012-13 saw the club lift 3 trophies in a year. Simeone’s mastery continued on as he led his club to the league title in May 2014, for the first time since 1996, which happened to be the first title since 2003-04 that was won by a team other than Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Atletico Madrid managed to make the UEFA Champions League final for the first time since 1974 as they faced city rivals Real Madrid in what proved to be a fantastic final.

Diego Godin gave Atleti the lead but Sergio Ramos found an equaliser in the last minute of the game to send the game into extra time that saw Madrid then comfortably win 4-1.

The club was back in the final in 2015-16 as they faced Madrid once again but ended up on the losing side once more, this time, on penalties after the game ended 1-1.

Atletico Madrid did win their 3rd Europa League title in 2018 and went on to make it 3 UEFA Super Cups out of 3 as they beat Real Madrid 4-2.

Club Records

MOST APPEARANCES: Adelardo Rodriguez (551)
TOP GOALSCORER: Luis Aragones (173)