Madrid (AFP) – Kieran Trippier never thought joining Atletico Madrid would make him a La Liga champion but said Saturday’s title triumph has proved wrong those who doubted his move to Spain.
Trippier has been a huge hit for Atletico since leaving Tottenham in 2019, becoming one of Diego Simeone’s most trusted players and integral to the team winning their second league title in seven years.
Leaving Spurs, who had just reached the Champions League final, and moving abroad was a brave decision for the defender, who will now be hoping to make Gareth Southgate’s England squad on Tuesday for Euro 2020.
Asked if thought it was possible he would win La Liga when he left Tottenham, Trippier said: “Of course not, Madrid and Barcelona have been dominating the league for the last seven years since Atletico won it.
“But I looked at the team, the manager and the players they have and I just thought: ‘why not?’ Go abroad, test myself in a different league. It would be good for my family, my kids, and I haven’t looked back.
“I am one of those people that doesn’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. And I just give it all that I can.
“People doubted the move when I first arrived, people were saying I won’t get past the half-way line in a Simeone system…I don’t listen to anything though. The most important thing is my wife and my kids and we didn’t think twice about coming here.
“It has been an incredible journey and to be a La Liga champion, after 38 games in a season, it’s not easy.”
Trippier’s own season has been particularly challenging, after he was banned by the English Football Association for 10 weeks for breaking betting rules.
He missed 10 games between December and March, but Simeone showed his faith by putting Trippier straight back in the Atletico team for a crunch game against Real Madrid.
“Personally I have been on a roller-coaster season and to be available to come back in February and help my team achieve this objective, I can’t put it into words,” said Trippier, who was speaking on the pitch after Atletico’s decisive 2-1 win over Real Valladolid.
“When it all happened I was watching the team suffer but it’s not about one player, it’s about the team and they did very well when I wasn’t involved. I am just happy that we have won. It’s not just about me.”
Trippier was called over to join the team’s celebration by Luis Suarez, who had just scored the winner and the goal that clinched the title, a moment of vindication for the Uruguayan after he was forced out of Barcelona last summer.
“It’s been incredible seeing him come to the club, because it just gives everyone a lift when you see someone like that come through the door,” said Trippier, who is the first Englishman to win La Liga since David Beckham in 2007 and the first to win it with a team other than Real Madrid.
“After those last two or three years at Tottenham, the manager and the president here gave me the opportunity to come and play for Atletico Madrid,” he said. “I haven’t looked back. It’s been a great journey. I have won La Liga.”