This is how you make a ‘Koke’

Like La Masía in Barça, the Atleti Academy is traversed by a transversal plan. Values, brand, thousands of houses that go dark with the red and white ironed on a chair for tomorrow. In the search for talent, Atleti wakes up every day in four venues: Cotorruelo, Orcasitas, Majadahonda and Alcalá. Almost covered every corner of Madrid. In childhood ages, before pure football prevails, it is due to housing. The drawing of the different teams is like a fort with a very wide base: 30 teams (25 male and five female, from junior to junior) in initiation, based in Orcasitas (female), Cotorruelo (male) and Alcalá (both); the improvement is 23 (15 male and 8 female, juvenile to cadet); eight the competition (six and two, cadet and youth); five the pre-elite (with the Junior Division of Honor and the subsidiary in men and the Feminine B and C).

The man to whom Atleti owes Mrs. Rushmore sits with an athletic red folder that he wields with a father’s smile: in its interior the strategic lines, all the numbers, of what is called Academia and which is the rojiblanca quarry. It is Emilio Gutiérrez, its director since the club remodeled it and went even beyond its original and fundamental ambition, the training and players ‘from home’ in the first team. The quarry as the root of that brand in the world, Atlético de Madrid. The club years ago left behind the saw teeth, the ups and downs in the table that followed the descent to Second. Today it is an ocean liner led by Miguel Ángel Gil and piloted by Simeone, match by match, looking straight at Barça and Madrid, Bayern and Liverpool, without losing their values. That way of life. “Knowing how to get up,” Torres, a footballer who represents him like no one else, once said. Also quarry. Because there is nothing better than mirroring a solid club model that identifies and lasts over time than the foundation itself.


  • Athletic
  • Midfield player
  • Spain

Under this premise, the Academy was remodeled in 2015. Atlético was always from the quarry. Abel, Ruiz, Marina, Julio Prieto; Torres, Antonio López and Gabi are examples. With the remodeling of 2015, “and the confidence of the CEO,” says Emilio, the model extended its arms, with an international vision, presence in China (with Wanda), India, Mexico, Canada, Pakistan and strong ties at home, Madrid Spain. “There is nothing more rewarding than discovering talent,” says Emilio as he opens that folder that keeps the secret. Today 1,235 boys and girls. 66 teams, 49 men and 17 women. 175 coaches. 1,309 matches. 245 tournaments. From prebenjamin, seven years old, to the subsidiary, adults. Budget of 16 million. Those are the numbers. Those of the largest Federated Academy in the world. With a lot of staff behind. 22 physical trainers. 12 analysts. 27 delegates. 12 goalkeeping coaches. 46 in medical services. 10 in the warehouse. Hands, heads, people with a thought. Do Kokes, Towers, Gabis.

3% reach the first team. Many others, to live from professional football, even if it is far away (De Gea, Rodri, Theo, Lucas, Thomas, Óliver …), leaving money in the piggy bank of a quarry that works in the search of the next Koke, Amanda. Footballers who with their mere presence already respond to that phrase: “Dad, why are we from Atleti?”.

The residence of Atleti in Madrid: pillar of its quarry

“Every child who is in the (male) residence has to study, not just play”. The phrase is the dogma with which Javier Valleros coordinates the Atlético Residence in San Sebastián de los Reyes. Opened seven years ago to a high sports performance and rigidity in the studios in its four plants. “Have a plan B.” In case football fails. Let the elbows be.

Under the dogma announced by Javier Valleros, eleven people work in its four plants, all with an educational profile, with resident players, 72 in this 2021-22, aged between 11 and 19 years. There are psychologists, teachers, psychopedagogues. With daily study control, permanent contact with schools (Liceo Europeo and Estudiantes Las Tablas) and families. With support teachers, homework control and sports development that is breathed in their habits: study plus food and rest.

A piece of furniture in its reception, 24 hours a day, summarizes the rules: in it children must deposit their mobile phones, forbidden to those under 16 except for half an hour a day to call families. Those under 15 cannot have networks. “Nor go out alone until they are 16. If they go out, a major must accompany them,” Javier explains. That deepens the brotherhood. The team, the pineapple, the football. A reception that is on the first floor. In the second, the leisure room, with billiards, table football and projector, with the dining room and the library. Third and fourth rooms, with the Atleti not only in dreams also in sheets, bedspreads and pillows.

145 players have already been through it this time. With names like those of Joaquín Muñoz, Montero, Álvaro García, Cedric, Soriano, Garcés, Mollejo, Valero or Toni Moya. Once residents. Today already in elite football.

A fluffy network of scouts

Talent grows because of that castro in which the Atlético quarry is organized, but it also comes from abroad. Dozens of eyes watch. Your scouting team is divided into three. The pre-elite phase, directed by Andrea Berta, after the restructuring last season, to bring the stages closest to professional football even closer to the first team; the pre-baby and baby phase (7 to 10 years old); and the rest, with scouts per stage. 13 in Spain, eight in Madrid, which is actually 138, because each youth soccer coach in each game is also a captor. More then that. International expansion. Those hundreds of children who, in China, India, Mexico, Canada and Pakistan, already play for the red and white. A fluffy net for fishing for talent. That Athletic grows and sows.

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