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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

German Burgos: Atletico's .raging bull ready for Real Madrid

German Burgos: Atletico's .raging bull ready for Real Madrid

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
Venue: Bernabeu Stadium Date: 13 September Kick-off: 19:00 BST

When reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid make the journey across town to face Real at the Bernabeu on Saturday, they will have to cope without the usual sideline exhortations of inspirational manager Diego Simeone.
The fiery Argentine is currently banished to the stands as he serves an eight-match touchline suspension after cuffing the fourth official on the neck during the most recent Madrid derby, the second leg of last month's Spanish Super Cup, which Atletico won with a 2-1 aggregate victory.
In their manager's absence, Atletico will instead be led from the sidelines by Simeone's assistant and compatriot German Burgos, a larger-than-life former goalkeeper who enhanced his reputation as one of the most colourful characters in Spanish football during the last league derby against Real, a 2-2 draw at the Vicente Calderon in March.
Atletico Madrid"s second coach Burgos argues with referee Delgado Ferreiro
Burgos confronted referee Delgado Ferreiro in the last Madrid league derby in March
When Diego Costa, who has since joined Chelsea, was denied a penalty after tumbling under a challenge from Alvaro Arbeloa, Burgos simply exploded, facing up to referee Carlos Delgado Ferreiro with such ferocity that it took six men to drag him back, earning one of the most obvious dug-out dismissals ever witnessed and a three-game touchline ban.
That wasn't the first derby flare-up involving the man universally known by his nickname 'El Mono' (The Monkey) because of his reach. Burgos, 45, also had a spat with Jose Mourinho at the Bernabeu in December 2012.
Referring to a notorious touchline incident in an October 2011 meeting between Real and Barcelona when Mourinho viciously poked Tito Vilanova in the eye, leading the usually placid Barca coach to gently shove the Real boss in return, Burgos concluded his own pitchside dispute with Mourinho by delivering the sinister line: "I'm not Tito - I'll rip your head off."
And it was no hollow threat because Burgos is not afraid of getting physical: Whilst playing for Mallorca in 1999, he earned an 11-game ban, one of the heaviest sanctions in Spanish football history, after knocking out Espanyol's Manuel Serrano with a hefty punch.

German Burgos

Born: 16 April 1969, Mar del Plata, Argentina
Playing position: Goalkeeper
National team: Argentina, 1995-2002, 35 appearances
Club Career: 1989-1994 Ferro Carril Oeste, 1994-1999 River Plate, 1999-2001 Mallorca, 2001-2004 Atletico Madrid
Teams managed: 2010 Carabanchel, 2011 Catania (assistant), 2011-2012 Racing Club (assistant), 2012-present Atletico Madrid (assistant)
Honours: Argentine Primera Division: Apertura 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999; Clausura 1997; Copa Libertadores: 1996 (River Plate) & Segunda Division: 2001-02 (Atletico Madrid)
'Mono' Burgos, it is clear, is a man you want on your side when the going gets tough. Simeone certainly feels that way, having repeatedly nagged his former club and international team-mate to join him in the dug-out before Burgos eventually agreed to become his old friend's assistant at Catania in January 2011, where they promptly helped the Italian club avoid relegation from Serie A.
The duo then stayed together for a brief return to Argentina to take charge of Racing Club, and when Simeone was persuaded to take charge of his former playing team Atletico in December 2011, there was only one man he wanted by his side.
Like the man himself, however, El Mono's rise to his current position as assistant manager at one of European football's foremost clubs has been anything but conventional.
Argentina national team
German Burgos (back row, second from the right) made his debut for Argentina in 1995 and earned himself the nickname 'Monkey' because of his reach
Throughout his playing days, Burgos was an unmistakeable figure - partly due to his appearance, with his propensity for brightly-coloured jerseys topped by flowing long hair and a (usually red) cap.
But beneath the dubious style, there was also serious substance because he was an excellent goalkeeper - good enough to win 35 caps for Argentina between 1995 and 2002.
In particular, Burgos was noted for his unrivalled bravery in one-on-one situations, his eagerness to charge out of his penalty area (performing as a sweeper-keeper long before the phrase became fashionable) and his ability to improvise unconventional saves, such as the occasion he saved a fiercely struck penalty by Luis Figo with his face.
Burgos's readiness to confront challenges head-on was starkly evident in 2003, when he successfully battled against kidney cancer - after being told he needed an operation, he responded with a typical mixture of fortitude and humour: "I've got a game at the weekend: we'll do it on Monday."

Last six meetings between Atletico and Real

05.02.14, Copa del Rey semi-final, first leg: Real 3-0 Atletico
11.02.14, Copa del Rey semi-final, second leg: Atletico 0-2 Real
02.03.14, La Liga: Atletico 2-2 Real
24.05.14, Champions League final: Real 4-1 Atletico
20.08.14, Spanish Super Cup, first leg: Real 1-1 Atletico
23.08.14, Spanish Super Cup, second leg: Atletico 1-0 Real
At the end of his playing career in 2004, following a three-year spell with Atletico, Burgos didn't intend to enter coaching. Instead, he sought fame in a completely different environment: as the lead singer in hard-rock band 'The Garb', named after his full initials, which saw him release a series of albums and perform live with a number of professional musicians.
His career path again went meandering in 2010, when Burgos's charisma made him the perfect choice to become the coach in reality television show 'Football Cracks', which put a group of young players through their paces with the tantalising prize of a professional trial for the winner ('crack' is the Spanish word for 'star' in a sporting sense).
Although his love of the limelight and rock music - especially the Rolling Stones - remained undimmed, Burgos eventually grew to realise that he was still consumed by one even greater passion: football, hence his assent to Simeone's attempts to lure him into coaching.
Diego Simeone and German Burgos
Simeone and Burgos were team-mates at Atletico in the early 2000s
And their partnership has quickly proven to be one of contemporary football's greatest success stories, with Burgos playing far more than a supporting role.
Like a modern-day Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, Atletico's management team are very much a pair. They share the same views on football and, having played and coached together for so long, each instinctively knows what the other is thinking, allowing them to provide their team with firm, clear and consistent direction.
Considering his flamboyant background and his occasional flashes of temper, it would be easy to dismiss 'El Mono' as an eccentric hard man.
But that would be a serious misjudgement, because he is also an astute, intelligent and extremely hard-working coach, whose part in Atletico's unlikely rise to La Liga winners and Champions League runners-up cannot be overstated.
German Burgos
Burgos became the first coach in the world to use Google Glass during a competitive game
In fact, Burgos's touchline tantrum in March was out of character because he is usually a placid and pensive figure in the dug-out, describing himself as "thoughtful and cold" when he switches into game mode.
While Simeone prowls the touchline - yelling at his players, berating officials and urging fans to up the volume - Burgos sits quietly on the bench, taking a step back from the heat of the action to coolly analyse the game, with notebook and tactics board always in hand.
Burgos's openness to innovation was demonstrated during his team's 2-0 win at Getafe in April, when he became the first coach in the world to use Google Glass  during a competitive game.
Live statistics were imprinted upon the glasses and updated every 30 seconds to appear in front of Burgos's eyes without him having to distract his gaze away from the game itself, and he later hailed the experiment as a success and proclaimed live in-game statistics as "the future" for professional coaches.
German Burgos
Burgos spent his club career with Ferro Carril Oeste, River Plate, Mallorca and Atletico Madrid. He retired after the 2003-04 season
Just like Google Glass, then, there is more to Mono Burgos than meets the eye, and anyone who believes Simeone's absence from the dug-out will weaken Atletico as they travel to the Bernabeu on Saturday might like to think again.
For the majority of people, stepping into the shoes of Diego Simeone to lead La Liga's reigning champions into a highly anticipated local derby against Real Madrid might be a daunting experience.
But for German Burgos - a man who has played international football, beaten cancer, fronted a rock band, starred in a reality TV show and threatened to rip Jose Mourinho's head off - you get the feeling he'll take it all in his stride.


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