"Saponjic is a pureblood who wants to break it"

The ex-Olympian mattress and coach of the Chicago Fire was his coach in the U-20 Serbia. Atlético asked for references and has already instructed the new signing in the mattress feeling.


If there is someone linked to Atlético who knows Ivan Saponjic, you are.

It is a striker of the physical form that Atlético, from my time, has always had and has triumphed. Kiko, Penev, Esnaider, Vieri, Mandzukic, Diego Costa. It fits in with the idea of the center forward that Atlético has always cultivated and has had as a reference. He is a boy who competes very well, is very hungry and is a scorer. In a team that dominates, that has opportunities and that has quality, that talent that Saponjic has can be strengthened and get the most out of his ability and his talent scoring.

He left the quarry of Partizan. What do you remember about his beginnings?

I remember that the first time I saw him playing with Partizan he played on the edge, but they also put him in the band. When we worked with him in the national team he was two years younger than the rest of the generation. In those ages that age difference is noticeable, but not for him because he already had a physical capacity needed to play at the highest level. He came to the U-20 World Cup with us ready and prepared although he was the youngest of that team that finished as world champion.

He was the youngest and was decisive in that event.

Marcó in quarter a very important goal, got us into the extension in the second round against Hungary and then in extra time, with one less, was also decisive when assisting in the winning goal. In addition, he scored Mali in the semifinal match. He usually connects the one he has, but he is also able to generate opportunities on his own and break up by band and attend. Choose well in the area. Being in the Athletic one has possibility to promote all that. It is now when you have to prove it. I trust that he does. I have spoken with him.

What have you said?

I have given you some advice. A little the guide on this club, of how is this family. Look, for example, I just spoke with him and he told me that the same person who received me has come to the door of the club and now he goes to Los Angeles de San Rafael, the same place where we were concentrating. . That's what I referred to. It's the same family. That is a very special club and you have to have the values of the family very present. He is a shy boy, he does not talk much, but inside there is a small flame of charisma that he has to develop. He has to develop charisma, which is very important for his teammates, the club, fans and public opinion. Also, knowing Cholo, I have guided him quickly, he has to be a team player, a player of his coach and as soon as Simeone sees this, he will give him the opportunity.

How is his character?

Fuerte. It has very well structured work and justice values. In focus. Very professional. He knows he has to contribute, work in silence and find his way. He has a great opportunity ahead and he has a great potential inside in terms of his desire to succeed. There is a pureblood who wants to break it. You are not going to see many words, you are going to see a lot of work. He called me and thanked me for what I told the club and I answered that I did not do anything, it is the fruit of his effort.

For what he says, I understand, that Atlético consulted you about him.

Yes. We talked on several occasions. I have not worked with him in the last four years, so first of all I made sure to see him play again to confirm everything he had already hinted at when he was aiming to make the leap to the first team of the national team when I was there. All this now has to be strengthened and taken out. He has to do his part. The level of demand of the Athletic can help.

Lleva since 2015 training in the United States, how do you see the growth of Atletico there?

Dan't imagine the level of pleasure that I can see the growth of Atlético from that far . Now they come to the United States and see also its scope. I am very happy with the big expansion that is taking place thanks to a strategy of the club's management and a great coach and leader like Cholo. All accompanied by good results. In the long term, Atlético has shown that you can succeed when there is consistency and a clear vision. Here there are many Spaniards who come to Chicago and, when they see me, people continue to recognize me as an Atlético player. It's fantastic. It's a personal satisfaction to have belonged to the history of the club and now see it grow so much and expand the brand.

He is fighting with his team, the Chicago Fire, for entering the MLS playoff.

We play Saturday again. We come from three matches in a week with a short template. You have to recover for the next one. We lost the lastor, but before we beat the champion 5-1. It is a peculiar league because of the distances and the calendar. It is tremendous, very hard. Play a lot of recovery and the player's ability to overcome adversity. We are fighting to enter the playoff. There are still 14 games. We are there. We lack consistency. We enter and leave the playoff zone. We lack some physical substance, but we will find the way.

Will you go to see Atlético in the United States?

I will go to see them. I will pass. I've already stayed with them. I send a greeting to all the athletic family and I wish all the luck to Saponjic. It has everything necessary to succeed, with humility, with work and focus. That focuses on being the player of his coach and his hobby.



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