‘I cannot hide where I come from’: Fernando Torres delighted to rejoin Atletico Madrid

'I am so happy' Fernando Torres told Gary Meenaghan on Monday in Dubai after the completion of his move from AC Milan, 'there is a time for everyone to go back home'.
Fernando Torres left Atletico Madrid for Liverpool in 2007. Felipe Trueba / EPA
Fernando Torres left Atletico Madrid for Liverpool in 2007. Felipe Trueba / EPA

DUBAI // Fittingly, Fernando Torres grinned like a kid at Christmas. The 30 year-old Spanish forward, nicknamed El Nino, sat on stage smiling at the Dubai International Sports Conference on Monday as Miguel Angel Gil, the president of Atletico Madrid, announced a loan deal taking the player from AC Milan back to his boyhood club.

Torres will on Tuesday fly from Dubai to Madrid to link up with the club he has supported all his life seven and a half years after leaving to join Liverpool. As part of the 18-month loan, Atletico’s Italian striker Alessio Cerci will move in the opposite direction.

Read more: Gary Meenaghan reports from Dubai International Sports Conference on Michel Platini’s organisational vision

“I am so happy because I cannot hide where I come from,” Torres said. “It has always been a privilege and honour to represent the club I supported as a kid. The day I left in 2007 was because we both understood it was the right decision, but there is a time for everyone to go back home. I had the chance to play [for them] when I was 17 and now I have the chance to go back again.

“I’m really looking forward to meet with my teammates, start training, playing and enjoy again the best football place in the world. It is a dream come true.”

Torres won the Fifa World Cup in 2010, but has endured a bittersweet few seasons since. After hitting 81 goals in 126 starts for Liverpool, he joined Chelsea in 2011 for £50 million (Dh285.6m), yet struggled to hold down a place in the team. He won the Champions League in his first season at Stamford Bridge, but was an 84th minute substitute in the final. He left Chelsea on loan in August having managed only 20 league goals in 110 appearances.

“Chelsea gave me what I was looking for when I left Liverpool: trophies,” Torres said. “I will always see [my time there] as a success because they gave me what I always wanted. When I made the decision to join Milan it was because I need a new challenge. They needed me and wanted me and I was going to be an important player, but after a few months the situation was different.”

Torres made just seven appearances for Milan under coach Filippo Inzaghi, scoring once.

“The reality was that I thought I could be important for Milan and I was not, so I had to find my happiness and there is no better place than Atletico for that,” Torres said. “Atletico wanted me and, for me, there was no doubt.”

Torres will return to the Vicente Calderon Stadium having scored 84 times for Atletico in 200 appearances between 2002 and 2007. The team he joins, however, have enjoyed great success since the Spaniard left, winning the La Liga title last year as well as a host of domestic and continental titles. They reached the final of last season’s Champions League, losing to Real Madrid.

“It’s not going to be the same,” Torres said. “I have jumped out of the sofa with each success of the club and now I have the chance to be involved on the pitch. Nobody should have any doubt about what I will feel when I wear the shirt. I have extra motivation and responsibility now.

“I know they are all excited for my return, but my aim is to be better than the first time I was there. Of course, it is a long time since I left and many things have happened since, but the passion to play for Atletico was always there in my head. I have been waiting many years, but now it is here. It is difficult to explain in words what I am feeling just now.”

And El Nino’s smile may yet grow grander. By a quirk of fate, his first game for Atletico could be at home against bitter rivals Real Madrid, who they face on January 7 in the Copa del Rey round of 16.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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