Atletico Madrid was founded in 1903 and has seen a lot of success ever since then. However, not all of the moments have been high points. Let’s take a look at Atletico Madrid’s history, pointing out the five worst moments that fans have had to endure, from losses to rivals to being knocked down to a lower level.
Christian Minchola’s Death
In 2013, a young boy named Christian Minchola joined the Atletico Madrid youth program. Minchola was said to be a rising star, and the striker was netting dozens of goals each year, inching his way to the professional ranks. Sadly, in 2020, Minchola passed away at just 14 years old without a cause of death listed. “We join in the grief of his family, teammates, and friends,” the club announced upon his death. “May he rest in peace.”
Club president Enrique Cerezo added that “We are shocked by the sad news of the death of our player and deeply regret his loss.” As for star player Koke, he took the tragic death hard. “Anger and pain at having to say goodbye to Christian Minchola,” he said. “Life is very unfair. Proud that you have worn this shirt. Much support to colleagues, family, and friends. Rest in peace.”
2016 Champions League Final
One thing that has alluded Atletico Madrid since its inception is the Champions League title. Despite being one of the most prominent football clubs in the world, Madrid has not won the big one, but has come so very, very close. One of the more heartbreaking matches in club history came in May 2016 in Milan at the Champions League final. The club was taking on its biggest rival, Real Madrid, and the match was a battle throughout.
Sergio Ramos got things started scoring-wise when he netted a 15th-minute goal for Real Madrid. It took until the 79th minute for Atletico Madrid to respond, and they did so with a Yannick Carrasco goal. Neither team scored the rest of the way, even in the extra time, and the match came down to penalty kicks. Both clubs made their first three, and Real Madrid went ahead 4-3 thanks to Ramos. Juanfran missed his attempt in the fourth frame, though, and Cristiano Ronaldo scored the clincher to win the Champions League.
There was a period in the late 1990s that was pretty prosperous for Atletico Madrid. The club won La Liga in the 1995-96 season and still finished within the top seven in the following two seasons. However, things took a nosedive in 1998-99, with the club finishing 13th. The next year, things somehow got worse. After three straight losses to open the season, it looked like Atletico Madrid was getting things figured out as they pulled off a few wins.
After defeating Celta de Vigo on matchday 22, though, Atletico wouldn’t win another match until the final day of the season. They lost eight times during that stretch while also drawing another seven times. The win in the final week was too-little-too-late as Atletico had already fallen into the relegation zone, which is something that hadn’t happened in several decades at that point.
In the rare event that a big-name club gets relegated in a top-level league, they usually win the lower league the following year and get back to where they were. That wasn’t the case for Atletico Madrid in the 2000-01 Segunda Division, however. The club won just two of its first 11 matches in the lower level, needing to turn things around quickly just to stay competitive.
After a loss in the 20th matchday to Sporting Gijon, Atletico Madrid got hot. The club lost just three times and drew another four times, winning 15 of those matches. In the final week against Getafe CF, Atletico won 1-0, but they needed a lot more than that. They tied Tenerife for third place in the standings, and a few more goals would have allowed them to be promoted. Instead, they had to wait another year to get back to La Liga.
2014 Champions League Final
We already talked about the heartbreak that was the 2016 Champions League final, but that somehow wasn’t even the worst of it. Two years prior, Atletico Madrid had a shot at winning the Champions League, and once again it was against their biggest rival, Rela Madrid. In the first half, Diego Godin scored the match’s only goal (36th minute), and that proved to be the only goal of the 90-minute match.
However, stoppage time allowed Real Madrid to get back in the game, and Sergio Ramos scored in the third stoppage minute. This sent the match to extra time, and Real Madrid scored three times, including a 120th-minute penalty kick from Cristiano Ronaldo to add salt in the wound.