Patience reaping rewards for Atlético's Emre

Continuing to win the confidence of Club Atlético de Madrid coach Diego Simeone, midfielder Emre Belözoğlu tells his sights are set on European and domestic glory.

Emre celebrates scoring his first goal for Atlético in the win against Académica
Emre celebrates scoring his first goal for Atlético in the win against Académica ©Getty Images

As he continues to settle in at Club Atlético de Madrid, midfielder Emre Belözoğlu told his ambition is to "finish a fantastic season" by helping the Rojiblancos retain their UEFA Europa League title.

The scorer of a points-clinching free-kick in the 2-1 Group B home victory over A. Académica de Coimbra on matchday three – his first goal since joining Atlético on a free transfer from Fenerbahçe SK in May – Emre already has his sights set on the knockout stage.

"I think we are close to qualifying from the group," said the former Galatasaray AȘ, FC Internazionale Milano and Newcastle United FC playmaker. "We have nine points and we want to continue on this path. We face Académica away in our next match and I think we can beat them again. We are very strong tactically."

Following his success in the competition with Galatasaray at the beginning of the decade, the 32-year-old won his second UEFA Super Cup on his Atlético debut in August. Following that late substitute appearance in the 4-1 Monaco victory over Chelsea FC, though, Emre struggled to become a regular starter.

His impressive 75-minute display against Académica last week, however, ensured Emre was rewarded with only his second Liga start in Sunday's 3-1 home triumph against CA Osasuna. That result kept Diego Simeone's men level on points with FC Barcelona at the top of the domestic standings.

"When I signed for this club, I saw there was a fantastic atmosphere in the squad – it's like a family," the Turkish international said. "If one player plays and another doesn't, it isn't a problem. We are all working very hard under a fantastic coach who is like a friend to us – that is a very important thing to have in a team. I am very happy here, especially after scoring for the first time in an Atlético shirt."

Suspended for Galatasaray's 2000 UEFA Cup final penalty shoot-out triumph against Arsenal FC, the five-time Turkish Super League winner is keen to make up for that disappointment by giving himself an opportunity of playing in next May's showpiece in Amsterdam.

"Last year we won the UEFA Europa League and we want to win it again," he said. "We have a great team and we are going well. If we can continue progressing, we can achieve our goals and hopefully finish a great season in Spain."