While it would be difficult to pick a list of Atlético Madrid legends from strikers of just the past decade -- Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan, Falcao, Fernando Torres, and more -- let’s take a look all the way through the 114-year history of Atlético to see some of the greatest names in the club’s history.
Luis Aragonés - Atlético Madrid Jersey #8
Diego Simeone - Atlético Madrid Jersey #14
José Eulogio Gárate - Atlético Madrid Jersey #9
Fernando Torres - Atlético Madrid Jersey #9
Only a year after the formation of Real Madrid, another Madrid club was born to rival Los Blancos. In 1903, three students from the Basque region of Spain started Athletic Club de Madrid (later changed to Club Atlético de Madrid), and almost immediately welcomed dissident players from Real Madrid into their ranks.
By 1911, Atlético Madrid were wearing their famous red-and-white striped jersey, which has been in continuous use ever since. But it would be another thirty years before the club would realize any major success. In 1939/40, the first year La Liga resumed following the Spanish Civil War, Atlético won the first of their 10 La Liga titles -- and then won it again the next year.
The mid-century decades were known as the club’s golden age, when it won three titles and three Copa del Rey trophies. After that, however, the growing influence of Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona pushed Atlético to a status of also-ran. Along with other historic Spanish sides like Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla, the concentration of wealth and titles among the top two clubs forced Atlético to hunt for scraps.
In 1995/96, the team unexpectedly found form. After narrowly avoiding relegation the previous season, Atlético won the double for the first and only time, securing the La Liga title and Copa del Rey in the same season. Unfortunately, the club was mismanaged in the late 1990s, and Atlético eventually spent two seasons in Spain’s second division.
Recent seasons have seen Atlético recapture some of its former glory, and the hiring of Diego Simeone in 2011 was a major turning point. In 2013/14, Atlético won the La Liga title, ending a run of nine consecutive seasons in which the title was won by Real Madrid or Barcelona. In Europe, Atlético won two of the first three Europa League titles, and reached the Champions League final twice between 2014 and 2016.
Atlético remains perhaps most famous for its rivalry with Real Madrid, which has only intensified in recent seasons. Atlético have always represented the rebellious, working-class underbelly of Madrid, while Real, as their name implies, still side with the royals. That rivalry has extended beyond Madrid to the rest of Europe, with Real bettering Atlético on the European stage recently. One can only hope that Real and Atlético can continue their excellent form and increase the excitement of this rivalry.
Like many Spanish clubs, Atlético Madrid added a sponsor to its jersey relatively late, in 1989. Despite their status as latecomers, Atlético’s jersey sponsors have brought both innovation and controversy to the shirt sponsorship world.
Through the 1990s, Atlético was mostly known for how often its jersey sponsor changed. The club had four different sponsors, and the most prolific one was another city in Spain. If Marbella, a city in Andalusia near the southern tip of the country and not far from the Rock of Gibraltar, seems a weird sponsor for one of Spain’s oldest clubs, that’s because it is.
It makes more sense when you realize that Jesús Gil, who owned Atlético from 1987 to 2003, was also the mayor of Marbella for 11 of those years. (Gil was eventually forced out of the club for misuse of funds, and corruption as mayor led him to be barred from public office for 28 years in 2002. He died two years later.)
From 2003-05, Columbia Pictures sponsored the club. In an interesting twist, the company often changed their logo to advertise the latest big-budget film release. Occasionally, they changed the entire jersey itself, as with the release of Spider-Man 2. Because all this adjusting would have meant constant swapping of replica jerseys, all replicas made by Nike during this time did not have a sponsor on them at all.
From 2012-15, Atlético’s sponsor was Azerbaijan, the so-called “Land of Fire,” a country who retains a logo on the back of the current jersey. This caused some controversy among human rights groups, who accused Atlético of advertising for a corrupt and oppressive regime. The club has admitted that the sponsorship “promotes the image” of Azerbaijan.
Since 2015, financial services company Plus500 has sponsored the jersey. The company recently renewed its sponsorship at least through the 2017/18 season.