Three days behind the scenes at Madrid's historic football club, for the FT Weekend Magazine.
'Scrappy, passionate and competing with Europe's elite, Atletico Madrid are determined to punch above their weight"
Working alongside FT correspondent Simon Kuper, I spent 3 days behind the scenes at Atletico Madrid, the traditional underdogs who in recent seasons have been challenging Barcelona and Real Madrid for domestic and European success.
Early in his career he was considered too small to be a professional footballer, but has proved his doubters wrong with a mix of skill, mobility and athleticism combined with an impressive goal scoring record.
The Estadio La Peineta has a long and chequered history. Originally an athletics stadium, it was first completed in 1994, with the intention that it would be the centrepiece of a Madrid Olympics. However by 2004, midway through three failed Olympic bids, the stadium was closed.
An agreement was reached with the Madrid government in 2007 that would see Atletico Madrid renovate and eventually move into the stadium.
The Ultras are however a key part of the atmosphere at the Calderon. They chant a variety of club songs throughout the game, led by drummers and a âconductorâ who uses a loudspeaker system that is a permanent part of the stadium infrastructure.