Though he went on to win the 2013/14 La Liga title and help end Real Madrid and Barcelona’s dominance, Toby Alderweireld did not enjoy the most productive of times at the Vicente Calderon.
Under Diego Simeone, the 30-year-old failed to nail down a regular spot in Atletico’s starting XI, forcing him to pursue a move elsewhere after just one season at the club.
So when the chance to play in the Premier League at Southampton came knocking, he had no choice but to accept.
Years later, and it is a career decision Alderweireld will undoubtedly be glad he made.
At St. Mary’s, the Belgian quickly became one of the leading centre-backs in English football’s top flight, helping him to later earn a permanent move to a Tottenham side on the rise under Mauricio Pochettino.
Admittedly, it has not always been plain sailing at White Hart Lane and Wembley for Alderweireld.
Injuries have seen him miss some big games, while interest from other clubs and an uncertain future (Daily Mail) have also produced similar consequences for the Belgium international.
Should the Tottenham man manage to help guide his side to Champions League glory, however, all of that will be forgotten.
And with Ajax the only club standing between them and that final at the Wanda Metropolitano, the above is certainly something Alderweireld and the rest of Pochettino’s men are capable of achieving.
Albeit short, Alderweireld’s spell at Southampton was truly a significant one to say the least. Because of it, the former Ajax man could now go on to become a European champion after establishing himself as one of Europe’s top centre-halves.
Southampton fans, what are some of your standout memories of Alderweireld’s brief time at St. Mary’s? Join the discussion by commenting below.