Fernando Torres is a man reborn playing in the red and white of his hometown colours. El Niño has embedded himself seemlessly into Diego Simeone’s playing system, working tirelessly as the spearhead of Atleti’s attack.
Torres and Atletico’s collective efforts have earned Los Rojiblancos another shot at claiming Europe’s biggest prize on Saturday, an achievement Torres would describe as the best moment in his footballing career – surpassing the Spainiard’s 2010 World Cup win and 2012 Champions League triumph with Chelsea.
Despite the former Liverpool star’s impressive medal haul, the 32-year-old says nothing would top victory over Real Madrid this weekend. The homegrown Madrid talent has been outspoken in his criticism of his former employers, expressing that winning the Champions League with Chelsea left him with a hollow satisfaction:
“Nothing would beat winning the Champions League with Atletico,
“I won it with Chelsea, but I was not in a good place. I did not feel I was being treated well at the time – I felt lost.”
Torres’ memories of Stamford Bridge clearly form a period of the striker’s career that he’d rather forget:
“I don’t want to talk about those moments. My career is going so well at the moment, and I feel so at home and full of confidence that I do not want to relive those days.”
It may well be harder for Torres to forget some of the more harrowing episodes of his career in a Chelsea shirt:
Atletico take on their great city rivals Real Madrid inside Milan’s San Siro stadium on Saturday, and although he was not present during the two side’s last final meeting, Torres believes his side can take revenge for their defeat at the hands of their rivals in the Champions League final of 2014:
“We know Real Madrid are a great team, with some of the best attacking players in the world, but there is a lot of confidence here. I have never played in a team with such spirit.
“I have never been happier. I love being back here and hope I can stay. I am one of the senior players now and give advice where I can, but also I am learning from the younger players. You can feed off their energy.”
Torres credited Atletico’s turnaround in recent years to boss Diego Simeone, who has already won three major trophies as the Vicente Calderon club’s manager and showed faith in the Spaniard when he first returned to the club.
If Atletico can secure the Champions League trophy at the expense of their biggest rivals, the rebirth of Fernando Torres will have played an integral role, unlike his victory with Chelsea where he was never truly a valued member of the squad.
As is so often the case when a player suffers a poor run of form, it takes the unwavering support of a loyal coach and fanbase to get them back on track. Torres has found that back at Atletico Madrid, where he never would have found it at Chelsea.
Fernando Torres’ goals and tireless performances have put him on the cusp of European glory once more. Chelsea fans will surely be wondering what player they might have inherited, if the mounting pressure hadn’t forced him out the door.