Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke believes that the chance of winning the Champions League is the reward for all of the hard-work he and his teammates have put in, not just this season, but for the past five years.
Atletico take on local rivals Real Madrid in Milan on Saturday looking for a different result from the 2014 final when their local rivals broke their hearts with a 90th minute equalizer before going on to win 4-1 in extra time.
Now Koke believes he and his teammates are fully prepared for another opportunity.
“We have been working for this kind of game for five years. We have changed out mentality and that was vital for all of us and especially for the fans. We know that when we play this kind of game, we are going to do things well. We can win or lose, but now we have a mentality that we didn’t have before,” said Koke, who praised coach Diego Simeone.
“He changed the mentality from the first day he arrived. We are all good players, but we have to take things one game at a time, seeing every game as a final and knowing we have to win… We have had this idea for five years and we should never change it,” continued the midfielder.
He added that the secret of beating Real Madrid and keeping their attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema quiet was to “do as we always have – work together and run together. We have to keep going and keep helping each other out, just as we have done various times before,” said Koke.
Two years ago Atletico ran out of steam in extra time and ended well beaten, but Koke commented that this time they were not scared of taking the match beyond 90 minutes.
“That is the past and this is a new final, a new opportunity for us to try and take advantage of and we are going with all of the hope in the world and all of the humility in the world as well.”
“This is not revenge, this is about having another chance,” he concluded.