Originally formed in 1903 as a Madrid base for supporters of Athletic Bilbao, Atlético de Madrid became a totally independent club in 1920, becoming inaugural members of the Spanish league in 1928.
After having worn blue and white stripes for the first few years of its existence, in 1911 the club changed its colours to the red and white stripes it wears today. The perhaps apocryphal story behind the change of colours is that the directors bought red and white material because it was used to manufacture bed mattresses and was therefore plentiful and cheap – hence the club's strange nickname of Los Colchoneros – or the mattress makers.
The first few years of the club were not especially successful and it wasn't until after the Civil War, when the club lost many personnel, that Atlético merged with the team representing the Spanish Air Force and won the league title in successive seasons, 1940 and 1941. It repeated this feat ten years' later – having reverted to its original name in 1947 – and since then the league has been won five more times; the most recent occasion being in 1996 – a famous year in which the Copa del Rey was also won.
The club has qualified for the European Cup or Champions League on seventeen occasions – reaching the final in a replayed match against Bayern Munich in 1974. Also twice runners-up in the European Cup Winners' Cup, the club's only major European success was to win that competition in 1962 when they defeated reigning champions Fiorentina, again after a replay, at Hampden Park.
Some famous and familiar names have represented Atlético through the years – players such as Diego Simeone, Christian Vieri, Hugo Sánchez, Quinton Fortune, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Bernd Schuster and, of course, Luis Aragonés and Fernando Torres. Managers have also included Fred Pentland – the Englishman being their first League manager – Ron Atkinson, Colin Addison and Claudio Ranieri.
Atlético de Madrid Fixtures