Atlético Nacional

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Atlético Nacional
Atlético Nacional logo.svg
Full name Club Atlético Nacional S.A.
Nickname(s) Los Verdolagas (The Purslanes),
El Verde (The Green),
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)
Founded 1947; 68 years ago (1947)
Ground Estadio Atanasio Girardot
Medellín, Colombia
Ground Capacity 44.000
Chairman Juan Carlos De la Cuesta
Manager Juan Carlos Osorio
League Categoría Primera A
2014 2nd (aggregate table)
Website Club home page

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. Considered to be one of the strongest clubs from Colombia, it is one of the most consistent clubs in the country.

The club was founded on 7 March 1947 by former president of the league of Antioquia, Luis Alberto Villegas Loper. The club was first placed under the name of Club Atlético Municipal de Medellín. In 1996, the company in which administrated the club, Organización Ardila Lülle, officially acquired Nacional.[1] Many Colombian legends have originated from Nacional such as Rene Higuita, Juan Camilo Zúñiga, Iván Córdoba, Juan Pablo Angel, David Ospina and most noticeably, Andrés Escobar and Víctor Aristizábal, among many others.

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, said 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.[2][3][4][5] 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 that has the same domestic trophies, whereas America has met with Nacional on numerous occasions during league/cup finals.

A strong rich history, Nacional has won 14 league titles, 1 Superliga Colombiana title, and 2 Copa Colombia titles, earning a total of 17 domestic titles, tied 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 5th in the rankings of South American clubs by IFFHS,[6][7] and is ranked as the best Colombian club within the 21st century.[8][9] It is also credited as the best Colombian team in CONMEBOL club tournaments.[10]


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 to that day. 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 fourteen 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, 2013-II and 2014-I. 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.

Atlético Nacional has been home to international stars like Faustino Asprilla, René Higuita, Víctor Aristizábal, John Jairo Tréllez, Andrés Escobar, Iván Córdoba, Albeiro Usuriaga, Aquivaldo Mosquera, Camilo Zuñiga, Mauricio Serna, Juan Pablo Ángel y Juan Fernando Quintero among others. Historical legends of the team also include: Humberto Álvarez, Javier Santa, Gerardo Moncada, Abel Álvarez, Hernán Darío Herrera, Pedro Sarmiento, Victor Luna, Luis Fernando "Chonto" Herrera, Leonel Álvarez, Alexis García, Aldo Leao Ramírez, and Jairo Patiño. The best foreign players in its history include Oscar Rossi, Manuel "Tito" Gómez, Cesar Cueto, Raul Navarro, Sergio Santín, Lorenzo Carrábs, Hugo Morales, and Gaston Pezzuti. The team is currently owned by Carlos Ardila Lülle of Organización Ardila Lülle, and Jaime Restrepo. Restrepo is the only person remaining from the founders (see above); the others sold their ownership to Carlos Ardila. The team wears green and white vertically striped jerseys. Nacional's mascot is Nacho, a tiger with green and white striped shirt. Nacho was created in 1998.

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 three domestic leagues the two leagues disputed in 2013 and the first tournament in 2014. 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.


Main article: El Clásico Paisa

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), but Atlético Nacional has more number of fans than Independiente Medellín within the city of Medellín and in the whole country. 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 in turn have 70, with 81 games tied.


The colors of the team are derived from the flags of the province of Antioquia and the city of Medellín.

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.
Flag Use
Flag of Antioquia Department.svg Flag of Antioquia
Medellín (bandera).svg Flag of Medellín


Further information: Estadio Atanasio Girardot


National honours[edit]

Winners (14): 1954, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2005-I, 2007-I, 2007-II, 2011-I, 2013-I, 2013-II, 2014-I
Runners-up (10): 1955, 1965, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2002-I, 2004-I, 2004-II
Winners (2): 2012, 2013
Winners (1): 2012

International honours[edit]

Winners (1): 1989
Runners-up (1): 1995
Winners (2): 1998, 2000
Runners-up (2): 2002, 2014
Semifinals (1): 2003
Winners (2): 1990, 1995
Runners-up (1): 1990
Runners-up (1): 1989
Winners (1): 2013


Current squad[edit]

As of 7 February 2015

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Colombia GK Camilo Vargas
2 Colombia DF Daniel Bocanegra
3 Colombia DF Oscar Murillo
4 Colombia DF Elkin Calle
5 Colombia DF Francisco Nájera
6 Colombia DF Juan David Valencia
7 Colombia FW Andrés Ramiro Escobar (on loan from Dynamo Kiev)
8 Colombia MF Diego Arias
9 Colombia FW Jefferson Duque
10 Paraguay FW Pablo Zeballos
11 Paraguay FW Pablo Velázquez
12 Colombia DF Alexis Henríquez
13 Colombia MF Yulián Mejía
14 Colombia MF Jairo Palomino
16 Colombia FW Jonathan Copete
17 Colombia FW Rodin Quiñónes
18 Venezuela MF Alejandro Guerra (on loan from Mineros de Guayana)
No. Position Player
19 Colombia DF Farid Díaz
20 Colombia DF Alejandro Bernal
21 Colombia FW Harrison Otálvaro
22 Colombia DF Gilberto García (on loan from Once Caldas)
23 Colombia DF Diego Peralta
24 Colombia MF Sebastián Pérez Cardona
25 Colombia GK Christian Vargas
27 Colombia FW Luis Carlos Ruiz
28 Colombia FW Orlando Berrío
29 Colombia FW Michael Rangel
30 Colombia DF Miller Mosquera
34 Argentina GK Franco Armani
35 Colombia GK Luis Enrique Martínez (on loan from Envigado)
Colombia MF Dayron Mosquera
Colombia MF Dávinson Sánchez
Colombia MF John Sánchez
Colombia FW Marlos Moreno

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Colombia GK Cristian Bonilla (at La Equidad)
Colombia DF Felipe Aguilar (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia DF Felipe Álvarez (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia DF Juan Arboleda (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia DF Deivy Balanta (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia DF Cristian Cassiani (at Leones)
Colombia DF Julián Franco (at Leones)
Colombia DF José Luis García (at Real Santander)
Colombia DF Esteban Morales (at Bogotá)
Colombia DF Luis Muriel (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia DF Jeisson Palacios (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia DF Román Torres (at La Equidad)
Colombia MF Jonathan Álvarez (at La Equidad)
Colombia MF Daniel Arango (at Bogotá)
No. Position Player
Colombia MF Níver Arango (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia MF Víctor Cantillo (at Leones)
Colombia MF Sherman Cárdenas (at Atlético Mineiro)
Colombia MF Rafael Carrascal (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia MF Julián Mendoza (at Real Cartagena)
Colombia MF Félix Micolta (at Marítimo)
Colombia MF Juan Pablo Nieto (at Alianza Petrolera)
Colombia MF Cristian Palomeque (at San Antonio Scorpions)
Colombia MF Santiago Tréllez (at Libertad)
Colombia FW Leonardo Acevedo (at Porto)
Colombia FW Diego Álvarez (at Envigado)
Colombia FW Jhoaho Hinestroza (at Cúcuta Deportivo)
Colombia FW Ángelo Rodríguez (at Envigado)
Colombia FW Fernando Uribe (at Millonarios)

Notable players[edit]


Affiliated clubs[edit]

External links[edit]