Los Verdolagas (The Purslanes), El Verde (The Green), El Verde y Blanco (The Green and White), Rey de Copas (King of Cups), El Verde de la Montaña (The Green from the Mountains), El Verde Paisa (The Paisa Green), El Siempre Verde (The Evergreen)
Club Atlético Nacional S.A., also known as Atlético Nacional, is a professional Colombian football team based in Medellín, that currently plays in the Categoría Primera A. They are the current league and cup champions. Considered to be one of the strongest clubs from Colombia, it is one of the most consistent clubs in the country.
They play their home games at the Atanasio Girardot stadium, with a capacity of over 40,000. They share the same stadium with local bitter rivals, Independiente Medellín, which by rivalry is known as El Clásico Paisa. Infamous for its aggressive background, it is considered to be the most important derby in Colombia, as well as one of the most important in South America. All while being recognized by FIFA as a 'classic' match-up. Nacional is also known to have rivalries with Millonarios by the El Clásico de la rivalidad regional derby, and America de Cali. Although these rivalries are based on rivaling success; with Millonarios being the only club superior to Nacional in terms of domestic trophies, whereas America has met with Nacional on numerous occasions during league/cup finals.
A strong rich history, Nacional has won 13 league titles, 1 Superliga Colombiana title, and 2 Copa Colombia titles, earning a total of 16 domestic titles, second only to Millonarios. It is also the first Colombian team to win the Copa Libertadores de América in 1989 thus marking the era of Colombian football. They also have the most international titles of any Colombian club, having won also the Copa Merconorte twice and the Copa Interamericana twice, having a total of 5 international trophies to their name. They are also one of the only 3 teams to play every first division tournament in the country, with the other two teams being Millonarios and Santa Fe.
Due to their success, Atletico Nacional is ranked 13th in the rankings of South American clubs by IFFHS, and is ranked as the best Colombian club within the 21st century. It is also credited as the best Colombian team in CONMEBOL club tournaments.
The club Unión, now known as Club Atlético Nacional, was founded in 1947 by Luis Alberto Villegas Lopera, Jorge Osorio, Alberto Eastman, Jaime Restrepo, Gilberto Molina, Raúl Zapata Lotero, Jorge Gómez Jaramillo, Arturo Torres Posada and Julio Ortiz. Atlético Nacional was the first Colombian team to win the Copa Libertadores de América, which they did in 1989. They were also runners-up in 1995. The winning of this cup was done in a special manner, since all of the team's players were Colombian; thus Atlético Nacional earned the nickname "Puros Criollos" (All Creoles). The late 1980s to mid-1990s teams are considered as the best individual teams of all time in Colombia, partly because of contributing to forming the framework for the teams that disputed the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups, considered the best Colombian national teams of all time. The club is the most successful team of the short tournaments, first instituted in 2002, with six titles out of twenty one that have been played to date (2013-II).
The team has won the Fútbol Profesional Colombiano thirteen times, in 1954, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1991, 1994, 1999 (when there was only one champion per year), 2005, 2007-I, 2007-II, 2011-I, 2013-I, and 2013-II. For fifteen years, from 1989 to 2004, the team was the only Colombian team to win the Copa Libertadores (until Once Caldas defeated Boca Juniors). Until 1999, it was the only Colombian team to win any major international tournament (when América de Cali defeated Independiente Santa Fe in the Copa Merconorte). The team is also the only Colombian club to reach the final stage of the Copa Sudamericana, losing against Argentina's San Lorenzo in 2002. Regarding the Copa Libertadores, it was the first out of only four South American teams representing a country with a Pacific Ocean coastline to win the tournament, followed by Colo-Colo from Chile in 1991, Once Caldas in 2004 and LDU Quito from Ecuador in 2008.
The team is the only Colombian squad that has won the two domestic short-format tournaments twice, awarded in 2007 and 2013, as well as the only one that has achieved two consecutive titles since the format was changed in 2001. America de Cali also has consecutive titles in 2000 and 2001-I, but the 2000 tournament was held with the long format.
Nacional's head coach since 2012, Juan Carlos Osorio, has proven to be a successful yet controversial steersman, as he uses a rotatory system that varies with each match that is played. As such, and for the first time in the team's history, there is not a definitive main team nor there are permanent subs. With this system, he has achieved a Copa Colombia and a Superleague in 2012, and two domestic leagues in 2013. It has been controversial, since as such, the team does not resort to individual talent or flashy displays of football. Veteran and seasoned players like Colombian international striker Juan Pablo Angel do not have a permanent place in the main team.
Atlético Nacional has had a long rivalry with Independiente Medellín. When the two teams face each other it is considered one of the most important matches in Colombia. Both teams share the same stadium (Estadio Atanasio Girardot), and both teams have about the same number of fans within the city of Medellín. The rivalry increased in the early 1990s as Independiente Medellín was growing stronger year by year. Currently both teams are considered among the top teams in Colombia. Independiente is sometimes referred to having a Green Star since in the 2004-I tournament they won the only final the two have ever faced. Atlético Nacional has 104 wins over Independiente Medellín, who have 70, with 81 games tied.
The club's main nickname, Verdolagas was coined early in the club's history, with association to the purslane plant, endemic to the Paisa region since pre-Columbian times though very few people make the association. The plant blooms a diminutive yellow, white or red flower; the white variety is the most common in the region, giving the color scheme to the team. It is also noteworthy that Antioquia has a great tradition regarding the planting of flowers, most notoriously during the Festival of Flowers. The nickname is also associated with the Argentinian club Ferrocarril Oeste, that shares the same color scheme.
The purslane plant or verdolaga; the white variety is associated with the club's color scheme.