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Diego Godín: Atlético's defensive rock

Diego Godín can make his 100th UEFA club competition appearance this week; UEFA.com gives due respect.

2012 final highlights: Atlético 3-0 Athletic
2012 final highlights: Atlético 3-0 Athletic

A 111%-er in a world where so many settle for 110%, Uruguay captain Diego Godín has marshalled Atlético Madrid's defence superbly since August 2010. How good is he? UEFA.com weighs up the evidence.

The expert testimony
"I'd never let him leave. He has improved so much in every respect; as a footballer, a leader and a person. I appreciate him so much."
Diego Simeone, Atlético coach

"Diego always steps up – every ball, every move, every game. It's difficult to reduce a player to one characteristic, but with Godín I'd say his biggest attribute is his mental strength. He always wants to take on every challenge and come out on top. He represents the best of Uruguay."
Óscar Tabárez, Uruguay coach

'He always finds the right words for everyone'
'He always finds the right words for everyone'©AFP/Getty Images

"Godín is the leader in the dressing room. He finds it easy to talk to the team – I would like to do that but I can't. He always finds the right words for everyone."
Antoine Griezmann, Atlético forward

"Nothing thrills me less than playing against Atlético. They're so annoying and Godín is a nuisance; he's always there next to me, he never leaves me alone."
Luis Suárez, Barcelona and Uruguay forward

"He's a natural leader. When he started he didn't say much but now he deservedly has a great deal of respect in the dressing room."
Diego Forlán, former Uruguay and Atlético forward

The back story
▪ Raised in a farming family in rural Rosario, Godín started out as a centre-forward, switching to playmaker around the age of 12.

▪ Moved to the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, aged 15 to play for Defensor Sporting's youth team, but broke through as a centre-back with Club Atlético Cerro. After a spell with Uruguayan giants Nacional, he joined Villarreal in 2007 and then Atlético in summer 2010, hitting his stride with Simeone's arrival in December 2011.

2012 final highlights: Falcao double helps Atlético to glory
2012 final highlights: Falcao double helps Atlético to glory

The evidence
▪ Godín leads a defence that's on target to concede the fewest goals in the highest-ranked league in Europe for a fourth straight campaign; he was the Liga's defender of the season in 2015/16.

▪ Has adapted to numerous central defensive partners with the Rojiblancos – including João Miranda, José Gimenez, Stefan Savić and Lucas Hernández – but his starting place has never been questioned.

▪ Helped Atlético win the 2012 UEFA Europa League and 2013 Copa del Rey; he then scored the crucial equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Barcelona on the last day of 2013/14 that confirmed his side's sensational Liga triumph. Another commanding display followed as Atlético reclaimed the UEFA Europa League in 2018.

Watch the 2014 final: Godín scores but Atlético lose
Watch the 2014 final: Godín scores but Atlético lose

▪ A man for the big occasion, he also netted in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final and at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

▪ Has now played 378 Atlético games, a club record for a non-Spaniard. Moreover he overtook Maxi Pereira to become the Uruguayan with the most UEFA competition appearances in the round of 16 first leg against Juventus (marking the occasion by notching Atleti's second goal).

▪ If selected against Juve this week, Godín will join Edinson Cavani (59) as the Uruguayan with the most UEFA Champions League appearances (group stage to final).

The take-home quotes
"When I moved to Atlético it was a huge challenge but I had high expectations of being at one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The first year was tough, but once 'Cholo' [Diego Simeone] arrived the club found stability, and the success we are still enjoying came next."

"I always said that playing for Uruguay was my greatest ambition; I dreamt of it when I was little and being captain gives me enormous pride and is a great responsibility."

"I feel proud and happy when the Vicente Calderón chant my name because seeing your fans appreciate you and show you love, with the whole stadium singing, is one of the best things football can give you."