Filipe Luis reveals all on Simeone's methods and confronting Mourinho

Former Chelsea and Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis says he was ‘betrayed’ by Jose Mourinho before leaving Stamford Bridge after just one year, insists Diego Simeone ‘has no heart’… and reveals how to stop Lionel Messi

  • Filipe Luis starred at Atletico Madrid for two memorable spells across eight years
  • The full back, now 35 and playing for Flamengo, has looked back at his career 
  • Luis described how serial winner Diego Simeone put the fear in his own players 
  • Despite the frustration felt at Chelsea, Luis does not regret his move to London 
  • Luis also described to Sportsmail how he tried to defend up against Lionel Messi 

Filipe Luis feigns a look of trepidation as he explains what it’s like for a player to receive a text message from Diego Simeone.

‘Now I can send and receive messages from him as a friend but back then every time I received one – cue look of dread – it was stressful,’ he says. 

Simeone, whose side face Chelsea on Tuesday night in the Champions League last-16, has been putting the fear into rival teams, and his own players, for nearly ten years at Atletico Madrid.

Former Atletico Madrid star Filipe Luis revealed what it was like to play under Diego Simeone

Filipe, like Diego Costa, left to win the Premier League with Chelsea, only to miss the old boss and go back for some more punishment.

It was one of those messages that provoked the return. ‘Simeone said to me: “come back, we are going to win again and I need a full-back like you”,’ recalls the Brazilian who had under performed for Jose Mourinho in his only season at Stamford Bridge.

‘I went back and played well and he said: “see, you only play well for me. You had to come back to play well again”. He got the best out of me. He knew every centimetre of my brain.’

Luis recalled the moment Simeone (right) called him back to Atletico to challenge for LaLiga

The 35-year-old full-back now at Flamengo reels off the Atletico memories: Simeone putting the Al Pacino film Any Given Sunday on in the dressing room for the players; the hurricane-force impact of his arrival in December 2011; the zero-sentimentalism of his team selections.

On that very subject he says: ‘Take my word for it; it’s not easy to play for Simeone. He has no heart.

‘He never says to himself: “Oh, what a pity, poor little player, I need to do this or that.” No. He will decide what he has to decide solely in order to win.

‘When he took over in 2011 the team was four points off relegation and he made them Europa League winners the same season.

The 35-year-old full back now plays for Flamengo in his native Brazil and left Atletico in 2019

‘He turned them into the monstrous side they are now. That success has one name: Diego Simone.

‘About 120 players have been though the club since he arrived. Some came as stars and didn’t play, others arrived with no credibility and became stars.

‘It’s an enormous achievement. And he doesn’t waste time, ever. He’ll never do a “ah, let’s have fun today” session.

‘I was a full-back lacking confidence in December when he arrived and the best left-back in the world by January. He’s the only person who has managed to get that from me.’

There was certainly a dip in Filipe’s form under Mourinho at Chelsea. He cites a lack of pre-season fitness, failure to adapt, and the outstanding form of Cesar Azpilicueta as reasons why.

Luis joined Chelsea in 2014 but endured a dip in form under Jose Mourinho before moving on

‘When I was on the bench for the first game of the season I knocked on Mourinho’s office door and said: “Why did you bring me here? Why didn’t you just leave me at Atletico?”

‘He said that he didn’t feel as secure defensively with me in the team as he did with Azpilicueta.

‘He said I had to win my place. I couldn’t expect that because of my name I was going to be first choice.

‘He was right. I wasn’t playing well. But I also think you have to be on the pitch to improve.

‘I never regretted the move because I was at one of the biggest clubs in the world but everyone wants to play!’

It wasn’t all disappointment for Luis (left) at Chelsea, with the left back winning the top flight

His decision to leave came when he was left out of the League Cup final having played all the games in that cup run.

‘At the time I felt betrayed for want of a better word. I did not want to work for Mourinho for another year. But it was not his fault. We won the final and I have the medal at home!’

Filipe says he had an excellent relationship with John Terry, ‘a real leader who did the hard talking when it had to be done and was first to hold his hand up in defeat’.

He recalls how Mourinho would send Rui Faria to talk with him during the low points and he remembers not being the only frustrated substitute: ‘In training Mohamed Salah was like Messi,’ he says. ‘It’s a pity not to have played with him more.’

And he did get to play alongside someone else who he believes, with a little more ambition, might even have hit Messi’s heights.

Luis said he felt betrayed by Mourinho and didn’t want to work for him after cup final axing

‘Eden [Hazard] along with Neymar are the best players I have ever played alongside – up there with Messi,’ he says.

‘He didn’t train well, five minutes before the game he would be playing Mario Kart in the dressing room.

‘He would warm-up without tying his bootlaces up. But then no one could take the ball off of him. He would dribble past three or four players and win games on his own.

‘Hazard has so much talent. Perhaps he lacks a little bit of ambition to say: I am going to be the best player in the world. Because he could be.’

When Filipe went back to Chelsea, Simeone took him to his second Champions League final.

Luis chose to return to Atletico after being left out of Chelsea’s team for the League Cup final

He fared better in 2016 than he had in 2014 but Atletico were beaten by Real Madrid again.

‘The day before the 2014 final I received 200 good luck messages and I made the mistake of looking at them before the game,’ he says.

‘That put so much pressure on me. I didn’t know what it was to play a final. I ended up playing one of the best games I have ever played. I never misplaced a pass, I defended better than ever against Gareth Bale. I was perfect.

‘But then when the second half started I got cramp from so much tension generated before the game.’

He came off with his team 1-0 up. Sergio Ramos equalised and Madrid beat Atletico 4-1 in extra time.

Neither of Luis’ two Champions League final appearances in 2014 and 2016 resulted in a win

In 2016 he says: ‘I prepared better. I never answered a single message! It came at the end of the best season of my life but we lost on penalties.

‘I cried a lot. Unlike two years earlier I had the feeling that there would not be another chance. But, mark my words: I will have another opportunity as a coach one day.’

Is he a mini-Simeone in the making? Atletico have said he can cut his teeth coaching in their youth academy when he’s finished playing. 

For now he’s looking forward to Tuesday’s match as a fan and from all he’s said about his mentor it’s a reasonable guess to say there will be no divided loyalties.

‘Yeah, I’m supporting Atletico,’ he says with a smile. ‘It’s still my dream to see them win the Champions League.’

Luis watches Atletico as a fan and said it is his ‘dream’ to see them win the Champions League

Kieran Trippier is one of the world’s best full-backs according to Filipe Luis but when asked if his FA ban was harsh the former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea defender had little sympathy, revealing his own brother’s addiction to gambling.

‘They talk to us players every year and they tell us you cannot place bets on anything! Nothing at all! You can’t tell anybody anything. You can’t tell your distant cousin three-times removed that you might get booked. You cannot do it,’ he says.

On his own experience of the effects of gambling he added: ‘My brother had a problem with betting sites. He’s addicted and he lost a lot of money.

‘I see his daily fight to not bet again. I’m against it because there is no limit. No one makes a living betting. The only thing that will happen is that you ruin the life of your family as almost happened to mine.

Luis believes Kieran Tripper is a top-class full back but has little sympathy over his betting ban

‘Because there is no limit you have someone at home who cannot stop, who’s addicted. Someone who hides away and even borrows from the bank so that he can continue betting.

‘You get to half time in a game on television and instead of spending ten minutes analysing the game tactically, they’re talking about the odds on corners, shots and cards. That shouldn’t be how it is.

‘Yes, there can be [the chance to place] bets, but it shouldn’t be encouraged like this. We can’t be telling a young kid to go and spend the money he has earned in a month risking it on Real Madrid winning. I hope people understand that opinion; it’s just that I have experienced this at home.’

Trippier has been tipped to come back stronger after his ban by the experienced Luis (above)

And it’s not that he doesn’t recognise how important Trippier has become, especially since Simone switched to a back three with wing-backs.

‘He is very good at overlapping and getting to the opponent’s area and crossing the ball. He is very calm on the ball. And he understands the system perfectly. He is [playing] at a very high level, one of the five best in the world and he has the capacity, the potential, to develop even more and with Atletico winning, winning, winning he will get even better.’

He also believes he will come back stronger after his ban. ‘He played all the minutes before the ban. And he seems to be a player that is not affected by anything. He has injuries, the betting thing, but then he comes back and he is just the same. He is very strong mentally. And he is what a club like Atletico Madrid need.’

It’s little wonder Jose Mourinho wanted to take Filipe Luis to Chelsea, the uncompromising defender was always one of Lionel Messi’s toughest opponents.

‘One day I would like to ask Messi what it felt like playing against me,’ he says. ‘I approached it as the most important game in my life against him because he was the best player I have seen play.

‘Messi had a thing – and I studied him a lot – that was very important. He improvises. He doesn’t have the dribble in his mind before the ball gets to him.

‘He watches the defender’s movement and depending on your body position, he goes one way or the other. So first I tried not to let him receive the ball.

Luis had consistently proved himself as one of Lionel Messi’s toughest opponents at Atletico

‘When he received with his back to me, there would be a hard challenge and because he’s so strong, so resistant, because he doesn’t go down looking for fouls, the foul is not given away.

‘If he receives the ball facing you, one on one, it’s impossible because of that improvisation he has. You can’t plan for it, because he is watching you and can change. I would fake to make one challenge, one side, to try to make him go the other way, where I really wanted him.

‘There were games where I went too far in terms of aggression. I was sent off. But he never had a go at me for it; he never said anything. I think he liked it, I think he liked that kind of challenge.

‘In fact Barcelona called me [towards the end of his time at Atletico] so I think he must have liked my football. I’d like to know his opinion one day. My best games were always against Messi, for sure.’

Never backwards in approaching Messi, Filipe Luis was far more reticent when it came to approaching Michael Caine.

‘It was in the Royal Albert Hall at the premier of Interstellar,’ he recalls of their encounter while he was at Chelsea. ‘Michael Caine was there. The director Christopher Nolan was there. I was in a private box with Thierry Henry, Michael Caine and the president of Warner Europe.

‘It’s my favourite film and there I was in a private box next to Michael Caine. I couldn’t believe it because I’m a really big fan of his but I did not want to annoy him so I let Thierry ask all the questions and I was just listening to all of the answers.

Luis was thrust into a different kind of stardom when he met Michael Caine at a film premiere

‘He asked him what was the film he had most fun doing and he said Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I had never seen it so I went home, bought it, and watched it.’

He had been given the invitation to meeting Caine through Cesc Fabregas’ agent Darren Dein who knew what a film fan he was.

‘I even walked along the red carpet,’ he laughs. ‘Although of course when I walked the red carpet no one knew who I was!’

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