Diego Simeone’s seamless transition into coaching comes as no surprise to former team-mate Dejan Stankovic, who says the Atletico Madrid boss always had the “coach feeling” as a player.
The makings of a future coach were clear when Simeone and Stankovic played together at Serie A side Lazio from 1999 until 2003.
In Rome, Simeone and Stankovic helped Lazio to the Scudetto, as well as Coppa Italia, UEFA Super Cup and Supercoppa Italiana glory.
The Atletico head coach has since added LaLiga, Europa League and Copa del Rey silverware to his collection, as well as becoming one of the most sought-after bosses in football.
And Stankovic says Simeone’s management qualities have never been in doubt.
“He was the leader then and he is the leader now, too,” Stankovic told Omnisport.
“He had a coach feeling even as a player and did not hide that he would become a coach after his playing career.
“I am happy for him. He deserves success because of his commitment and good work. Cholo is already a successful coach. He has a great career is ahead of him.”
Simeone was the mastermind behind Atletico’s first league title in 18 years as Real Madrid and Barcelona’s duopoly was broken in 2014, but Los Blancos have twice thwarted their city rivals in Champions League finals in the Argentine’s time in charge at Vicente Calderon.
Last season Atletico suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak in Milan, a result which left Simeone questioning his future at the club.
Leicester City await Atletico in this season’s Champions League quarter-finals, but the 46-year-old’s long-term future at the club is unclear with his contract having been shortened to 2018.
Argentina’s national team and former club Inter reportedly offer Simeone interesting propositions and Stankovic – San Siro midfielder turned former first-team club manager – says ‘El Cholo’ would be welcomed back to the Nerazzurri.
Stankovic, who won 15 trophies during his illustrious career at Inter – including the treble in 2010, said: “The door of Inter will be always open for ex-players.
“But the question is whether someone will get a role in the club or be a supporter.”