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‘For a defender there’s no better place in the world to be’ – Trippier

Madrid (AFP) – Kieran Trippier had just finished his Atletico Madrid debut and while all the other players had gone, he stayed on the pitch a little longer.

He had his first victory, a clean sheet, and an assist too, swinging in the cross for Alvaro Morata’s winner.

As he walked off, Trippier pointed at someone in the crowd, applauded and threw a clenched fist above his head, the gratitude visible on his face.

“There was this one Atletico fan, I could hear him non-stop for the first 45 minutes,” Trippier said in an exclusive interview with AFP.

“He was shouting at me, in a good way, in Spanish and English. He was speaking so fast I found it difficult to understand him but every time I took a throw-in or when I was walking I could just hear this one voice. I wanted to say thank you.”

Trippier has played three games in La Liga for Atletico, thrown straight into the starting line-up after signing from Tottenham for 22 million euros ($24.14 million) in July.

That debut meant a lot, given where he had come from, a disappointing final season for Spurs, and what he had come into, a defence regarded as the most steely in Europe over the past decade.

Yet moving to Spain was the biggest leap. Trippier is the only Englishman playing in La Liga this season and the first to play for Atletico in almost 100 years.

“Every decision I’ve taken in my career has been a brave one,” he says. “Football is about taking risks.

“I’d always fancied playing abroad so I had discussions with Tottenham and said I wanted a new challenge, a new chapter for me and my family.

“To play in Spain was an amazing opportunity, I didn’t want it to slip away. No regrets.”

– ‘I’ll try to fit in’ –

“No regrets”, something Trippier repeats and a mantra that seems to guide his all-in approach to life in Spain. There are still adjustments to be made.

“It is difficult eating later than in England, I get hungry,” Trippier says with a smile. “And I’m not a big tapas fan yet, I don’t like sharing! But it’s okay, I’ll try to fit in as much as I can.”

He is learning Spanish, with two-hour lessons on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Already he understands instructions on the pitch.

“Learning is difficult at first but it’s essential, that’s a given,” Trippier said. “You want to interact with everyone, from teammates to fans to staff, everyone at the club. I feel like I’m doing that already.”

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