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Simeone says future uncertain, Zidane praises Ronaldo

Zidane became the seventh person to win the Champions League as a player and coach

A downbeat Diego Simeone did not confirm whether he wanted to continue as Atletico Madrid coach on Saturday after suffering a second agonising Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid in three years.

After Atletico came from a goal behind to take the game into extra time at 1-1, it was Real who prevailed 5-3 in the penalty shootout, adding to the pain of the 4-1 loss to their city rivals in the 2014 final in Lisbon.

Simeone, who has won every major trophy with Atletico in his four and a half years in charge apart from the Champions League, cast his future at the club into doubt when asked if he had thought about resigning.

“I am thinking that I have to start thinking” Simeone told a news conference.

“It’s a logical question for you to ask after a defeat like the one we’ve suffered today. I feel proud of my players.

“Quite frankly I love my players. It’s obvious that they’ve given everything that they have, and they always give everything they have.

“We had the chance to become champions, we didn’t take that chance,” he added.

“We need to continue working, I have to think things out on my part. That’s what I’m doing now. What is clear to me is that nobody remembers the losers. Losing two finals is a failure. We have to get over this and heal our wounds.”

Although he offered his congratulations to Real, Simeone could not hide his disappointment at losing another final in such cruel circumstances.

“You do your best, you try to do what you can, you get to two finals and you lose them both,” he said.

“One you lose 4-1, even though it was 2-1 for a long time, the other you lose on penalties.

“This cycle for me at Atletico, two finals in three years is, actually a marvellous achievement, but I am not happy with what I have achieved.”

Atletico won the La Liga title in 2014, breaking Barcelona and Real Madrid’s nine-year stranglehold on the trophy.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane lavished praise on Cristiano Ronaldo after the three-times world player of the year appeared to struggle through the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

Ronaldo was subdued for long spells but fired home the winning penalty to give Real a 5-3 success in the shootout following a 1-1 draw after extra time and then performed his shirtless celebration, proudly showing off his muscular torso.

“He wasn’t injured. He gave us the win, he was fine, he fought hard and he ran a lot like everyone in the team,” Zidane told reporters. “He has always helped his team mates.”

Ronaldo scored 16 times in the Champions League campaign to finish as top scorer in the competition for the fourth season in a row, albeit a goal short of the record he set two seasons ago.

He has won the Champions League three times, twice with Real and once with Manchester United, but still one fewer than his great rival, Lionel Messi of Barcelona.

“We’re really happy, finals are always hard,” said Ronaldo. “The side was great and sacrificed a lot. It’s impressive. I knew I was going to score the winning penalty; I was confident.”

Fromre Real playmaker Zidane, who became the seventh person to win the Champions League as a player and coach, said that work, and more work, was the secret of Real’s success.

“We worked so much,” said the Frenchman, the first coach from his country to win the trophy. “I believe a lot in work, work is the most important thing and everyone has done a good job.”

“We suffered a lot physically and some players had cramp, but it’s normal,” he added.

“Mentally, there is a lot of pressure but you have to fight. We have worked a lot and when you get something as big as the Champions (League), it means a lot for the staff and the supporters.”



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