Simeone labels Atletico Madrid record-breaker Koke an 'exemplary captain'
Diego Simeone described Koke as an "exemplary captain" after the midfielder made a record-breaking 554th Atletico Madrid appearance in Saturday's 2-0 win at Sevilla.
Koke – who came through Atleti's youth ranks – surpassed fellow Colchoneros great Adelardo Rodriguez in the club's all-time appearance chart in a routine victory at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
The 30-year-old marked the occasion with an assist, teeing up Marcos Llorente to score a fine opener before Alvaro Morata lobbed Yassine Bounou to score his fourth league goal of the campaign after the break.
Koke has been a key player throughout Simeone's long reign in Madrid, and the Argentine struggled find the words to describe his captain's influence after the win.
"It is difficult, in a short time, to express all the feelings I have for him, first as a person and then as a footballer," Simeone told DAZN.
"He is a guy who gave himself, who never hesitated to commit first to Atletico, with his team-mates, with the coaching staff, and that is very difficult to see.
"He has been an exemplary captain for many years. It is not easy to maintain that place in a team like Atletico, with so much responsibility.
"He is very intelligent. I have always appreciated that he knows what has to be said, to whom, where and when. Then as a footballer he has given us a lot of things.
"He has given us hierarchy, work, strength, being able to generate a commitment as a team through the midfielders. Now I see him in an important role, hopefully I can develop it in the best way."
Meanwhile, Simeone deployed Llorente in an advanced role alongside Morata, and was delighted to see the 27-year-old end a 51-game goal drought by drilling into the bottom-left corner in the first half.
"I am very happy for Llorente because it is a position that interests me, I like it, where I know he can do very well," Simeone said.
"He has enormous power and also works for the team. He gives us a lot of speed up front."
Llorente said Atleti could have won even more convincingly, but was pleased with their display, adding: "We are happy not only for the three points and the team's victory, but also for the game.
"At the back we have been strong, we have had enough chances to have a bigger result. But 2-0 here in Seville is a good thing.