Antonio Ruiz, also known as ‘Antoñito’, is a sports journalist for Tiempo de Juego and El Partidazo from Cadena COPE and El Golazo de Gol in Spain. He is one of the main referents in journalism and covers his beloved team Atlético de Madrid.
He admits to not know a lot about the new social media world and he teases about the fact that the lights did not even exist when he started his career, but on his social media bio he describes himself as a fanatic of live and smiles, which is something that he shows instantly when talking to him, even though there is a screen in between. At the beginning of the interview, he allows us to call him ‘Antoñito’, the loving nickname that his family and friends game to him at a young age.
Tell us how did you start in journalism
Antonio Ruiz: I studied at the Complutense University in Madrid and I also played football (soccer) at the same time. I used to play at the academy of CD Badajoz, in Extremadura, and I signed for Carabanchel at the age of 18 when I moved to Madrid.
I did not go too much to class because I was a footballer, so my classmates would then let me have their notes. In fact, they just missed making my exams (kidding). In my second year, newspaper Marca opened up some workship for summer and that is when i started my journalism career and quit football. You have missed a great central defender.
Maybe even Ibai Llanos calls you up for the next Kings League’s fixture…
Antonio Ruiz: I have a very high release clause… I got injured from my hamstring, very typical in football, and so I quit playing football a couple seasons ago.
What do you love the most from journalism?
Antonio Ruiz: First of all, I want to make clear that I consider myself a reporter. I love to be in the streets and tell stories. That is why I have always loved to cover events such as a World Cup or EURO and be anywhere in the world with a microphone telling stories.
“I feel a reporter”
I am lucky enough to work along my friends, because I have spent my entire career with Paco González, Manolo Lama and Pepe Diomingo Castaño. Actually, we are brothers.
What differences do you see in journalism from when you started to today’s?
Antonio Ruiz: Everything has changed, it is like a new job. Back in the days, when you worked at a radio station, you were allowed to be a sideline reporter when covering LaLiga, but about a decade ago, TV’s that hold rights are the only ones allowed to access that area.
As a result, that possibility of interviewing players right away for the radio has been faed away, and so now we see ourselves forced to make more debates as programs in the radio.
From my point of view, the most important aspect of this job is to be consistent, and then to take care of what you say.
Who do you have as your referents?
Antonio Ruiz: My workmates, because I have been lucky enough to work my entire life along with the best sports journalists in Spain, Manolo Lama and Paco González.
They are not only the ones that stand out the most but also the most humble ones. There are many people that they think they are untouchable in this work and they have done nothing for it, but Manolo and Paco have always made it clear that no one should think that he is better just for having a microphone.
You have always covered Atlético de Madrid
Antonio Ruiz: Yes, I have, but not because I support Atlético. I started following the team for Brazilian top talented defender Luis Pereira. I have always covered Atlético because that is the team I started with and I have been able to keep my contacts along my career to report the right news.
I began with this club when Paulo Futre signed for Atlético. Back in the days, he would let me go to his house to make interviews. To have that kind of close relationship with such top players like him nowadays seems totally impossible.
What do you think of the rise of new platforms such as Twitch and YouTube? Do you see them like competitors or a complement to the traditional kind of media?
Antonio Ruiz: I do not seem them like competitors. This job is changing a lot in aspects such as freedom to make interviews and so it all gets spread out in new platforms. I have nothing against them, I am actually attending this interview with you guys right now (kidding).
I am an old school guy for some things, but I also try to stay updated to the new technologies. I never say no to anything related to communication, I just think that everyone can get his space.
What do you think of Atlético’s season up to this point?
Antonio Ruiz: I always like to wait until the end of the season, but so far there has been a huge setback, which was to not make it to the round of 16 in the Champions League. Now it is time to accomplish Atlético’s natural goal, which is to qualify for the next Champions League. If they pull it off, it would be a decent season.
Do you think that Cholo Simeone’s time at Atlético is over?
Antonio Ruiz: I know Cholo Simeone well and I feel like in the football industry and in life, people tend to forget too quickly. Cholo has brought back to life a death team and has made turned it into a competitive squad that is respected by everyone.
“Sometimes memory is too short in football. Cholo has brought back to life a death team and has turned it into a competitive squad that is respected by everyone”
It is true that any relationship can worn out after eleven years, that is normal, but that should not turn into lack of respect to the person that has beaten every record at Atlético de Madrid.
My information is that if Atlético qualify to the Champions League, Cholo will stay, and if then not, he might leave. At any case, he should be farewell the way he deserves.
Atlético have not finished any game against Real Madrid with 11 players this season. What do you think of this fact?
Antonio Ruiz: These kind of things always happen when playing against Real Madrid. I do not think that there is any referee that goes against Atlético, but yes indeed there is pressure on them when they have to make calls at the Bernabéu Stadium, and we have seen that multiple times throughout history.
“Referees always have extra pressure when making calls at the Bernabéu”
However, that should not happen with the VAR anymore, as any mistake like the other day’s Correa red card should be fixed inmmediately. That is what I do not understand.
Do you think that they would have made the same call if it had happened the opposite way?
Antonio Ruiz: Absolutely no.
And do you agree with the club posting statements that question the referee’s decisions?
Antonio Ruiz: Of course, they are free to do so as a private company in a free company. That is freedom of expression. Real Madrid already did that back in 2019 and 2020 and nothing happened. The thing is that Real Madrid might not need to take this kind of actions that often because they already have most of the media on their side to do that for them.
And what do you think of Atlético being considered ‘The people’s team’?
Antonio Ruiz: I love it, because rooting for the people’s team is not about how much you pay your coach, but instead supporting a team with values that represents a way of living for their people.
“To be the people’s team is not about how much you pay the coach, but it has to do with what it represents for their fans”
And what do you think of the atmosphere at the Metropolitano this year? How would you take care of the shield issue?
Antonio Ruiz: I do not like to see the Atlético crowd divided because those fans have won games together. In the end, the main harmed is Atlético. I would try to gather up the main representatives from the club to end with this situation.
“I do not like to see the Atlético crowd divided because those fans have won games together“
Regarding to the shield issue, that theme is not being studied at the social commission that the club set up recently. I also love the old school shield, the one I felt in love with when I was 14.
Do you think that it is time for a generational change? Is it time to let Simeone go and look for a new style?
Antonio Ruiz: Just as Simeone can’t be discussed for his success, those who do not like him criticize him for his style. The style that Cholo Simeone has set up at Atlético has returned it to the top elite and has allowed it to win all the titles except the Champions League, where he has played two finals. That was unthinkable before he joined in.
“Just as Simeone can’t be discussed for his success, those who do not like him criticize him for his style”
Do Atlético currently have enough players to display Simeone’s playing idea?
Antonio Ruiz: A good player can rely on a single style. A good player must know how to get used to ny context. From my point of view, Reinildo is the best defender of LaLiga and Simeone himself told me recently that he wants to improve offensively in order to provide the team with more resources when playing as a full back. This way, a first level player who plays for Atlético de Madrid should not use the style as an excuse for his low performing, as João Félix did.
He has an incredible talent, but I think that he has not understood what it means to play for Atlético de Madrid because someone who has not won anything at all in his career can’t just demand his coach and teammates to play a specific way for his own benefit, neither for the price they paid for his signing.
“A good player can’t rely on a single style”
He should have shown the humbleness that Griezmann has had. He is World Champion, he made a mistake when he decided to leave, and then when he came back he realized right away that he couldn’t act like a star anymore in order to be forgiven. He is the best palyer of the team and also the one he works the most. The style is a lie that use those that are unable to accept the success from others.
Atlético have several players on loaned in LaLiga such as Samuel Lino at Valencia, Rodrigo Riquelme at Girona and Sergio Camello at Rayo Vallecano, who are all standing out this season. Do you think that they should earn a spot at Atlético’s squad towards next season?
Antonio Ruiz: They certainly should, but I am not sure they will. There are excellent players in the Atlético’s academy that should leave early if they notice that they do not get enough opportunities in the first team, because otherwise they are just wasting time.
What does it mean to be ‘Cholista’?
Antonio Ruiz: To be ‘Cholista’ is not only about a football idea, to be ‘Cholista’ is a way of life. To not negotiate the effort, never give up, never stop believing in what you love and always fight until the end.
The ‘game by game’ motto
There is nothing smarter than that. Just focus on building your present.
Quick answers to finish
Revelation team of LaLiga
Disappointment team of LaLiga
Sevilla and Valencia.
Revelation player of LaLiga
Disappointment player of LaLiga
A signing for Atlético towards next season
There is no money… Atlético are looking for a good striker that they can afford. I love Lewandowski.
Who do you nominate for a next interview at ELXIIDEAL?
That way, we would be able to have all of you who comment the videogame FIFA , as Manolo Lama and now you have both already been to ELXIIDEAL
I will take care of it.
Thank you Antoñito, it has been a pleasure.
I have loved to be with you guys, and I want to end with an advice. If you really love journalism, never give up.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.