Reflections of a legend | Chapter 1
Fernando Torres: "Nothing is impossible, but Madrid was"
Fernando Torres hosted AS in a suite in the Hotel Imperial in Tokyo ahead of the main press conference to bid farewell on his exceptional career.
In Fernando Torres' announcement on Friday that he would be retiring from football, he stated that he would add more meat to the bones in a follow-up press conference. And AS were fortunate enough to sit down with the former Atlético Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea, Milan and Sagan Tosu player.
Here is the first part of our interview with the Spanish striker affectionately known as 'El Niño'...
How did you arrive at your decision that surprised everyone in Spain while they had their breakfast on Friday?
It was a decision that took plenty of thought. When other teammates took their own similar decision, it made me sad. I remember when [Steven] Gerrard retired. It left me cold, I thought, 'that's it, it's over, I'm not going to see him play anymore, that which I have enjoyed with him, the things that I have not said to him'.
It is a decision that feels like it will never reach you, until it does, and then by weighing up many things, you believe it's for the best. Just as I did with Atleti, I wanted to find an iconic moment, a good farewell. It is a considered decision of which I am one hundred percent sure about.
Did you suddenly get homesick of Spain?
No. I am very much enjoying life in Japan with my family and it has been a fantastic experience. We have got to know an incredible country, noble people who have taught us many things. But I notice that football for the level that I demand for myself will soon be at an end, and I prefer to be honest and say goodbye before that moment arrives.
Has your performance in Japan influenced the decision?
No, I have been more guided by feelings than performances, more mental than physical. I didn't have any expectations when I came here. I came to for an adventure and that's how it has been.
Did you like the Japanese league?
It's a league with huge potential and they have a lot of great players. It can be molded and there is a tremendous margin for improvement. It's a culture shock and they can improve things, but the raw material is good and the potential is great.
Have you thought about what you're going to do in the future?
For now, rest. I will continue working with Sagan Tosu, trying to use my experience to help the growth of the club, to keep their image in the world. They want to grow in Japan and internationally and I would like to help them in that sense.
Other than that, I don't have any short-term plans. I have earned myself some time, although not sure how much, to rest, be with my family, enjoy the fruits of my labour over the years, and also prepare for what may come.
Are you interested in management?
In recent years, I've considered coaching. It was something that hadn't previously crossed my mind, but in the end you see that it is the closest way to be on the pitch. I have had the good luck of having very good coaches from whom I learned a lot.
So, in recent years I've thought about being a coach, but I guess it's something vocational. Once I finish I will see if I can get the qualifications, and see where my life takes me. Maybe in the end I don't have this option.
It is assumed that you will return to Atleti. Did Cerezo and Gil Marín open any doors to you when they were in Japan recently?
There was nothing concrete. We discussed various internal matters and they know they can trust me and I have always given them my advice from what I understand is in the best interests of the club. In the end they are the ones who decide. It's a situation that is taken for granted, but Atleti is my family, Atleti is my life. It is a passion behind what football really is, a feeling that you cannot explain. I had that especially in my two stages at Atlético.
Fifteen years at the elite level winning so much. Is there anything missing from your CV?
I always moved thinking about titles and what was important. I miss the finals because I had them in my grasp. The one in Milan is of unparalleled pain that can never be filled, and in the Champions League I have another. I lost a Club World Final against Corinthians with Chelsea, a Community Shield against City, a European Super Cup against Bayern, I have never won a league. Of course you can ask for more...
Some hypothesising now: If you'd had accepted Madrid's offers, what would have happened?
I don't like to talk about hypothesis. But that would never have happened. It is said that nothing is impossible, but that was impossible, it would never have changed my mind.
If you had not gone to Liverpool and instead stayed at Atleti...
It is difficult to remember what Atleti was like at that time, it is very complicated. The fans who lived through it have a hard time going back and thinking that it was real. Who knows what would have happened?
If you had not gone from Anfield to Stamford Bridge ...
I left my home, Atleti, to win titles, among many other reasons. And when I left Liverpool for Chelsea I was still pursuing the same thing, so I do not regret it.
Read Part II of this interview now where Fernando talks about his favourite managers, Hazard, Neymar and Griezmann transfers, his moves from Atleti to Liverpool to Cheslea, and so much more...