Milan (AFP) – Fernando Torres is dreaming of eclipsing his Champions League triumph with Chelsea and making history for the second time in the competition by leading Atletico Madrid to victory over Real Madrid on Saturday.
Torres won the elite European title with the London side in 2012 when they beat Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties to add their name to the trophy for the first time.
But on that occasion the Spanish marksman played only a bit part, and it wasn’t with the club where he spent his entire childhood.
Torres came through the ranks of Atletico, spending seven seasons in La Liga before signing for Liverpool in 2007, then Chelsea three years later.
The 32-year-old returns to familiar ground having spent an ill-fated loan spell with AC Milan in Serie A two seasons ago. Although it was his “hard work” that got him here, Torres admits he owes a debt to coach Diego Simeone.
“The club and Simeone gave me a chance to come back to my childhood club. It’s been hard,” said Torres.
Kept on the bench by then Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo for the 2012 final, Torres only appeared six minutes from the end when he replaced Salomon Kalou and did not take any of Chelsea’s penalties on the way to their spot-kick victory.
Now considered one of Atletico’s veterans, Torres put his situation into perspective when he said: “Koke and Saul (Niguez) were only kids at the club when I was playing for Atletico’s first team.”
Although he has scored only one of Atletico’s 14 goals in the competition this season, as opposed to the seven-goal haul of French teammate Antoine Griezmann, Torres has been hugely influential.
Four years on from Munich, Torres is ready to do it all again — although this time the Spaniard is expected to start.
“There’s no doubt, it’s the most important game I am ever going to play,” added Torres.
“With Chelsea and the Spanish national team I’ve won a lot of titles, but this is really special for me. To me, it means everything. It’s the game of my life.
“To me it means everything. I’ve played for great teams… this one is special, it’s different. It’s maybe the biggest thing I dreamt of as a kid.”
He added: “Obviously I know this stadium and I have many friends here. I’m sure tomorrow they will be behind Atletico Madrid.