Kieran Trippier reveals all about his life at Atletico Madrid including his nickname ‘Rooney’, how he is stronger than last season at Tottenham and why there is no one better to learn from than manager Diego Simeone
- Kieran Trippier has revealed that his team-mate Diego Costa calls him ‘Rooney’
- Costa’s nickname for Trippier comes from slight resemblance to Wayne Rooney
- Trippier helped Atletico Madrid dump Liverpool out of the Champions League
- Trippier struggled with injuries at Tottenham last season and lost his place
Kieran Trippier had hardly finished his first answer when Diego Costa bounded along the Anfield corridor towards him like a disruptive schoolchild, fake coughing at the hoard of journalists flanking him, and interrupted his team-mate with cries of ‘Rooney! Rooney!’
Trippier laughed and rolled his eyes with a little shake of the head as Costa skipped off around a corner. ‘He’s crazy,’ said Trippier. ‘He calls me that all the time. It’s the first name that comes into his head.’
Costa’s nickname for the Atletico Madrid right-back comes from the slight resemblance he has to former England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
Kieran Trippier (R) has revealed that his team-mate Diego Costa calls him ‘Rooney’ in Madrid
Spirits were understandably high. Atletico had just helped Atletico dump Premier League leaders and reigning European champions, Liverpool, out of the Champions League inside their own fortress, for a place in the quarter-final, albeit in a game that should never have gone ahead.
More than 50,000 supporters attended, including 3,000 from virus-hit Madrid on the day the World Health Organisation pronounced Covid-19 a pandemic.
Neither side have played since. Saturday should have been the Champions League final. For Trippier, he had hoped it would be his second successive appearance in it having started for Tottenham in their defeat to Liverpool.
It would be his last appearance for the club at the end of a campaign ravaged by injury. Trippier picked up a groin injury at the end of the World Cup, a tournament which many thought would establish himself as England’s right-back for the foreseeable future, and it never really improved. He was left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Nations League finals.
Costa’s nickname for the Atletico Madrid right-back comes from the slight resemblance he has to former England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney
His summer move to Atletico, over which he has since been charged for breaching the FA’s betting rules, has revitalised him and his career.
‘I feel I am a better player than I was last season,’ said Trippier, speaking before he was charged by the FA. ‘Last season was a difficult moment because I was struggling with injuries. It is not an excuse, I was not hiding about it. But I struggled for months with my groins and pelvis. I had surgery just after the winter break. Now I feel so much better. I was only out for a few weeks. I should have had it last season. But people didn’t want me to have it.’
Trippier’s phone did not stop pinging that night at Anfield with texts of congratulations from his former team-mates at Tottenham. But, as Costa’s brief interruption showed, Trippier has also been welcomed by his new family.
‘It is strange because I feel I have been here for years and these guys have been unbelievable with me,’ Trippier added. ‘The people in Madrid are totally different to England because it is so much more relaxed. It wasn’t easy at first but I have settled in really well and I am enjoying my football again, which is the most important thing.
Trippier helped Atletico dump European Champions, Liverpool, out of the Champions League
‘I didn’t want to come to the end of my career and regret not coming here and it might benefit me in the long run and hope I am here for many more years. I am absolutely loving it.’
Trippier feels he’s grown as a player. He knew that he had to improve his defending and where better to do so than under the best defensive coach in the business in Diego Simeone. Or, as Trippier refers to him, ‘Mister’.
‘There is no one better to learn from,’ he says. ‘Mister is unbelievable, with the team and individually. It is a joy to play for him.’
A joy to play with, but exhausting to watch. Up and down the touchline, jumping, screaming, buzzing — kicking every ball and feeling every emotion.
Trippier struggled with injuries at Tottenham last season and lost his place in the England side
‘What you see on the touchline from Mister is what you see in training,’ says Trippier. ‘All the time. From the first day at pre-season.
‘He is one of the best managers I have ever worked with. He is fully focused and committed. Everyone loves him here and he is a joy to work with.
‘I can’t speak highly enough of him. I’ve only been here one season and already wish I had come earlier in my career.’
Trippier insists there is no one better to learn from than Diego Simeone in terms of defending
Trippier’s move to Atletico has this month seen the right-back charged by the FA regarding breaches of betting rules. Trippier, who insists he ‘at no stage placed any football-related bets or received any financial benefit from others betting’ has until June 26 to respond to the charge.
His upturn in form in Spain has resurrected his England career too. After missing the Nations League finals, he has since started three of England’s last six games. Trent Alexander-Arnold, who he went up against that night at Anfield, has started the other three. There’s even more competition from Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kyle Walker and Reece James.
‘I knew when I came out here I had to play at the highest level because there are so many good right backs. I want to try to keep myself in there because there is no greater honour than to represent my country. I need to play games like this at Anfield to keep in the thoughts with Gareth and the staff. I will do my best to keep pushing.’
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