"It's about effort, sacrifice, fighting and belief," Fernando Torres told UEFA.com as he talked about the values instilled in him as a lifelong Club Atlético de Madrid fan.
Article top media content
Club Atlético de Madrid won a Spanish double not long after Fernando Torres first joined them aged ten. Now back with his first footballing love after seven and a half seasons away, the 31-year-old is hoping more celebrations lie ahead, in domestic football and the UEFA Champions League.
UEFA.com: How would you explain your connection with Atlético?
Fernando Torres: You can't really explain it – I have been a fan since I started to play football. I was lucky to come and train with Atlético at the age of ten. We won the double – the championship and the cup [in 1995/96] – and they were great moments. Then we went through mediocre times, including relegation to the second division. But with hope and passion the fans and the team managed to stick together.
You grow up at a club and you develop as a person. The club shows and teaches you its values, and that is what we follow and defend day in, day out – in our daily lives too. It's about effort, sacrifice, fighting and belief. All that has helped me in all aspects of life. I always felt when I was abroad that I could return to a place I consider home, which made leaving and now coming back home easy.
UEFA.com: What was it like breaking into the first team and then becoming captain aged 19?
Torres: Well, it depends how you look at it. We were playing in the second division then, which reduces your options to sign players, so you look to the youth team and players from there. It wasn't just me, but others like Antonio López and David Cubillo who got into the first team to try to get us back into the top flight. So our opportunities were increased and I was lucky that everything went well. I took my chance and stayed in the first team the following season after we managed to get promoted.
Later on, there was a lot of change in personnel and it was me, Carlos Aguilera and José García Calvo – we were the captains of the team, and I was just 19 years old. That's an age where you don't necessarily become captain, but it was the way the club was back then.
UEFA.com: What makes Diego Simeone such an effective leader?
Torres: It's his character as a player and his character as a coach that drives the team. He knows we are a team that need to know what we are about – our weaknesses and our strengths, but above all our weaknesses so we can then implement our qualities. He did that as a player, as a team-mate and as a captain, and now is doing it as a coach. We don't have the options that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern or Chelsea have – we cannot drop points and make up for them later. We are a team who play at their limit. That's how he was as a player, that's how he was when I first met him, and as coach he is just like he was on the pitch.
UEFA.com: How far can Atlético go in this season's UEFA Champions League?
Torres: Well, the higher the level you reached the season before, the higher the expectations are – but obviously they are very difficult to achieve. Last term other teams wanted to be drawn against us, but this time people are not so sure if they really want to play Atlético. We are a hard team to beat in the knockout rounds. So we have to use that in our favour.
UEFA.com: Do you have any personal targets for your second spell at Atlético?
Torres: I would like to play a lot of matches, score a lot of goals and enjoy my second spell here, at home with Atlético. And I hope I can experience the same emotions I did when I first got here – when Atlético won the double.