Kieran Trippier runs scared. Taking refuge on the side of the pitch at José Zorrilla, he looks over his shoulder. “I have to watch him at all costs,” he says. That’s when Yannick Carrasco appears. “He has been chasing me with a razor,” says the Englishman. “We made a deal that if we won La Liga, I would shave my head.”
And Kieran Trippier has just won La Liga with Atlético de Madrid, the first major trophy of his career.
Abroad, thousands of fans have made the 195 km trip from Madrid and are gathered in the parking lot, celebrating. Inside, his teammates wait on the corner to go join them, Luis Suárez surrounding everyone, calling him.
“I can’t put it into words,” says Trippier, still in his gear, aside from the white trainers and socks that replace his boots, ready to board the bus like this, arriving after midnight. “It has been a roller coaster season and in order to help my team achieve it, I cannot put it into words. Coming here after the last two, three years at Tottenham, so that the president and the coach give me that opportunity, coming to play for Atlético, has been a great journey. And now I have won La Liga ”.
No one expected that, not even Trippier. “Of course not,” he concedes. “Madrid and Barcelona have been dominating La Liga for the last seven years since Atlético won it, but I looked at the team, the coach and the players they have and I thought: ‘Why not?’ Go abroad, test myself, in another league. It would be good for my family, my children and I don’t look back. I am one of those people who does not mind being thrown into the abyss. And I just give everything I can.
“People doubted the move when I first arrived, people said it would not pass the midline on a Simeone system …”
Hello Danny. “… Although I don’t hear anything; the most important thing is my wife and my children and we don’t think twice about coming here ”.
Danny Mills may not have foreseen it, but Trippier has played very high and very wide for Atlético, even more so this season. Yours has also been a vital role. When he was suspended, club staff repeatedly commented that they did not expect a full-back to be so important, the impact of his absence so significant. In part that’s because he’s not actually a winger, at least not exactly. Instead, he has played a hybrid role, changing with different phases of the game, somewhere between winger and winger. Without it, this is a broken system.
There was a reason why he played every minute until his suspension and was immediately returned to the team after that. There’s a reason he’s finished with 28 league appearances, each 90 minutes long. In which he has provided six assists and has not received a yellow card. Nor, fortunately, did his absence deny him or his team the title. Could have made it more dramatic, taking it to the last day.
The last five games have been razor-sharp: a 1-0 win over Elche in which a last-minute penalty hit Jan Oblak’s post; a 0-0 draw with Barcelona, Leo Messi’s late free kick shot out; a 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad that saw them hold on desperately in the final minutes; a 2-1 victory against Osasuna, leaving goals in the 82nd and 88th minutes; and now a 2-1 victory in Valladolid. Once again, they fell behind. Once again, a goal from Suárez allowed them to take the title, on the 21st of the season.
“It’s amazing that Luis comes to the club, because he just cheers everyone up when you see someone like that walk through the door,” says Trippier.
“To be able to come back in February and help my team reach this goal, I cannot put it into words. I don’t look back. When everything [the ban] it happened, i was watching the team [and] suffer[ing]. But it is not about a player; it’s about the team and they did very well when I didn’t participate. And I’m happy that we won.
“It is not easy, you are going to go through bad times as a team. It’s about reacting to the challenge and we certainly have. Go 1-0 down today, Osasuna, the last games … it has been [crazy] But it’s just about how you react Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, you can’t focus on them. Luckily, the players have responded. It has been an incredible journey. Thirty-eight games: it is not easy.
“Nerves? It is difficult to say. Maybe before the game, but once you cross the white line, you only think about trying to win, even when we lost 1-0. We entered the break and we knew we could still get into the game, as we did against Osasuna with 10 minutes to go. We always continue to believe but we have succeeded. And we’ve done it the hard way. “
Expensive too. “What what?” Trippier says. Carrasco is there smiling. “I came to cut your hair,” he says.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism