The unauthorized retelling of Diego Simeone’s halftime team talk
Location: Visitors’ Dressing Room at Estadi Montilivi
[Altetico Madrid players enter, heads hung low. They trail newly promoted Girona 0-2. The room is silent. FERNANDO TORRES places a towel over his head.]
[Manager DIEGO SIMEONE walks in. Players avoid eye contact. He produces a pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket, lights up, and takes a drag.]
[SIMEONE raises the cigarette up.]
SIMEONE: Which one of you wants it?
[No one says anything.]
SIMEONE: I said. Which. One. Of. You. Wants. It?
SIMEONE: Okay. If that’s how you want to play this? I guess I’ll choose for you.
[SIMEONE walks over to TORRES. He places the cigarette to the towel. It catches fire. TORRES jumps up and runs in circles screaming. JAN OBLAK tackles TORRES. He puts out the flames.]
SIMEONE: Oh! So you can save something, Oblak! After that first half, I thought you forgot.
OBLAK: [Whispers] I’m sorry.
SIMEONE: What did you say? Did you just talk back to me?
[The players start to elbow JUANFRAN. He stands up.]
JUANFRAN: Leave him alone. He said he’s sorry.
SIMEONE: You a bad man now, huh? You think you can help him? You can’t defend shit!
[SIMEONE pounces on JUANFRAN, gets him in a headlock, and gives him an intense noogie.]
JUANFRAN: AHHH!!! Please stop! You’re scrambling my brain!
SIMEONE: You have a brain? Since when? You got nothing. You think you are a big tough defender, don’t you? You think you can defend anything? Well, prove it! Prove it out there. Now, are you going to stop interrupting me?
SIMEONE: Yes, what?
JUANFRAN: YES, CAPITAN!
[SIMEONE lets him go and stalks the room. He takes off his clothes. He stands in his underwear. His body is covered in scars.]
SIMEONE: Look at me! All of you! Each of these scars represents someone who has let me down. Cockroaches I will never forgive. This one right here is when someone tackled me studs up during a charity game. And this one here was a barista that gave me soy milk instead of almond milk. EVERYONE KNOWS DIEGO ONLY DRINKS ALMOND MILK. Jose, get over here!
[JOSE GIMENEZ walks over to SIMEONE.]
SIMEONE: Your parents still live in Toledo?
GIMENEZ: Yes, Capitan.
SIMEONE: Good. Good. Pick an empty spot on my body.
[SIMEONE pulls a switchblade from his underwear.]
SIMEONE: I want you to make 11 marks on my body. One for each member of this team. Don’t be afraid.
[GIMENEZ hesitates,then does as he is told.]
SIMEONE: The pain feels good. I feel alive. I will grow old. My body will become frail. I may begin to forget the faces of my loved ones. Rest assured, I will never forget this moment. I will not forget how you all let me down.
[SIMEONE’s underwear vibrates. He pulls a ringing cellphone out and hands it to GIMENEZ.]
GIMENEZ: [Into phone] Hello? … Mom? Dad? Is that you? Yes, Mr. Simeone is standing right here. … Okay. Really? I’m so sorry. I love you. Are you going to say it back? No? … I understand.
[GIMENEZ begins to weep.]
SIMEONE: Please tell everyone what occurred.
GIMENEZ: My parents disowned me and adopted Capitan Simeone. I no longer have a family.
[SIMEONE slaps GIMENEZ across the face.]
SIMEONE: Never question me! You score a goal today, and you can have your parents back.
GIMENEZ: But I never score!
SIMEONE: Well you better figure it out then, or no more Mama and Papa Gimenez for you. I’m their baby now.
[SIMEONE walks over and squats in front of ANTOINE GRIEZMANN.]
SIMEONE: Hello my sweet, sweet prince.
[He strokes GRIEZMANN’s hair.]
SIMEONE: I have a special present for you. Bring it in!
[TWO ASSISTANT COACHES dressed in protective gear enter. They pull in a cage covered by a sheet. The cage shakes, and loud snarling noises come from it. SIMEONE stands up and circles the cage.]
SIMEONE: My beautiful angel, Antoine. I had this shipped in from England just for you. I hope you enjoy it.
[SIMEONE pulls the sheet off. Chelsea striker DIEGO COSTA is in the cage. He bites and snaps at the assistant coaches.]
GRIEZMAN: No! Anything but that!
[SIMEONE opens the cage. Costa springs from it and attacks GRIEZMANN.]
SIMEONE: Listen, all of you! If you don’t win this game, this monster will be your new teammate. It will be your responsibility to feed him, clean him, and take him on walks. He will try to hit on your girlfriends. He will lick your food and put it back in the fridge. He will talk about Antonio Conte all the time! [Beat] Okay that is enough.
[He takes a taser from the belt of the ASSISTANT COACH. He uses it on COSTA.]
SIMEONE: [to COSTA] That’s enough, Diego. You did your job.
[SIMEONE leads COSTA back to the cage.]
SIMEONE: [to ASSISTANT COACHES] Take him away.
[SIMEONE begins to dress.]
SIMEONE: Do you feel properly motivated?
ALL PLAYERS: Yes, Capitan!
SIMEONE: Are we going to finish third?
ALL PLAYERS: No, Capitan!
SIMEONE: Why not?
ALL PLAYERS: Because we didn’t sign Paulinho!
SIMEONE: Exactly! Who are you!?!
ALL PLAYERS: Diego Simeone’s Army!
SIMEONE: That’s right.
[The entire team cheers and bangs their chests. KOKE does a backflip.]
SIMEONE: And remember, guys. Have fun out there. Make daddy proud.
[Everyone rushes out.]
[SIMEONE stands by himself.]
SIMEONE: I love my job.
[Lights fade to black.]
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) August 19, 2017
Follow Julien on Twitter @JulienLlerena.