Fernando Torres at Esquire España
Previously, Fernando Llorente and PF Juan Mata shared their musings, and now Esquire España has given us Fernando Torres. It’s much too football- (and club) centric for me; I wished Fernando had talked more about other things! But since I know several of you will enjoy it, here it is.
My childhood idol was always Kiko. When I debuted with Atlético’s first team, he was still there. We shared a locker room and spent a year together. It was the closest thing to a dream come true for me. From that time on, life has taken us down different roads, but we’re still in contact. I can say that we’re good friends. Un crack.
We Spanish players have taken a step forward. It’s evident that we weren’t afraid to go abroad. Real Madrid and Barcelona have also placed their bets on national players, which helps a lot. Now the national team draws not only on players from the Liga BBVA, but also from the Premier. The team has acquired another dimension. If you manage to have a good number of players who know the football of different countries, the richness, variety and competitiveness of the team multiplies.
Everything began with Luis Aragonés. As the national team coach, he was the one who was brave enough to call up los pequeños, to play them together, to conform to a style. It functioned and from that time on, Spain has had a style, something that it never had before. People always talk about la furia and la pelea. But now Spain is something else. It’s a team that wants the ball, that plays well and beautifully, and it shows that’s how it wins. My goal in Vienna? That was only one step on a long road of successes.
Rafa Benítez has been the most important coach in my career. It wasn’t easy for me to leave Atlético, to go to England and to find a style of football that was much more rapid, dynamic and with a greater physical presence than that of the Liga. Rafa has been the only one who has known how to help me improve individually. His base is the collective, but adapting the conditions of each one to the team. That’s the secret. And to achieve that, he maintains a permanent, personal and direct dialogue with each player. He taught me many things and thanks to him I grew a lot as a professional. There’s no doubt about that.
Liverpool and Chelsea are completely different clubs. They have no similarity, neither in their past nor in their present. My adaptation process for each has been completely distinct. Chelsea is in London, a huge city. I come from Madrid, also a great European capital, but this is much more of everything, for good and for bad. It’s been difficult for me to adapt here compared to when I arrived in Liverpool, a more comfortable place, smaller, where I was surrounded by Spanish teammates. In the end, the important thing is to try and organize yourself as quickly as possible. That’s what I’m doing…
I’ve passed through three teams throughout my career: Atlético de Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea. What I haven’t changed is my sponsor, Nike. I’ve been with them since I was 14. The relationship started when I played for Atlético’s cadete team, precisely in the 1998 Nike Cup in Italy. The best player of the tournament was given the option to sign a contract and Real Madrid’s Tello and I were chosen. Sadly, he hasn’t had the same luck in his career as I have. One’s destiny in football is always unpredictable.
The most expensive Spanish footballer? That’s just a number. The only thing I know is that opportunities such as the one Chelsea offered me cannot be turned down. The important thing is the confidence they have in me. Liverpool was going down a strange path. Personally, I believe the departure of Xabi Alonso to Madrid was a clear message that something was changing. I have the ambition to improve and Chelsea could offer me what every footballer desires: titles.
In England, sports are experienced in a special way. Football is to be enjoyed in detail, and English people are the only ones to to do this. It’s not that they’re better or worse than those in Spain, it’s just different. We have distinct cultures. If we try to apply this philosophy to our country, it probably wouldn’t fit with how we are. It’s a way of watching football, of understanding it and of admiring the players on your team that Spaniards don’t do.
Everything that surrounds football in Spain conditions your way of life. In England, you can live after the training session or the game, enjoy the city where you reside, go to any place, train without cameras, get to your car without anyone stopping you… Here, there are no press conferences or mixed zones. When I was in Madrid and the team lost, people would constantly remind me of it, no matter where I was that week. It’s as if I had to always show that I deserved to wear this escudo. In England, the players that wear the shirt of a club are untouchable for their fans. When they criticize you, when you’re playing badly, when you’re sent off, when you miss an easy goal… that’s when they support you the most. And that’s how you improve. That’s something that we can learn.
I can’t say that what I’ve achieved is like a dream come true, because I never dreamed of getting this far, or to where I am today. Everything that football has given me has been un extra permanente. I give thanks for that.