Behind every elite sporting success is a snarling trainer with a whip. In the case of Atlético Madrid, they have Óscar Ortega, known as ‘El Profe’, ‘The Professor’. He is a short, 60-year-old Uruguayan and he has been vital to all of the club’s successes since Diego Simeone took over as head coach.
As Atlético’s fitness coach, Ortega is the man responsible for making sure that Simeone’s team are able to last a whole demanding season. Given that the club’s financial resources pale in comparison to some other clubs, Atleti must compensate by being able to run an extra few hundred metres per game. Additionally, their style of football sometimes sees them play predominantly without the ball, a position in which elite fitness is necessary to maintain team structure and to still have the energy to break when opportunities arise.