"EL NIÑO, THE KID, IL BAMBINO" - Part 1And then, all of a sudden, Fernando Torres signed for A.C. Milan. What was your first memory of the club?I was seven or eight years old when my sister went to Italy for a school trip. She got me a Milan shirt as a gift.There’s someone at the club who I’m sure perfectly understands what being a striker is all about, Filippo Inzaghi.Inzaghi was a great goal scorer, and I am convinced he will know how to get the best of me. He will teach me and guide me through this new adventure, I’m convinced.One thing is clear. Milan’s interest in you goes way back. They’d set their eyes on you when you still played for Atlético.A very, very long time ago now. It’s as if destiny had this in store for me and was hoping to see me play at San Siro sooner or later.You arrive to Italy after spending six seasons in Spain and seven seasons in England. Do you feel like you’re an english footballer now, more than anything?I feel like an international footballer. It’s very hard to remember how it was like playing in Spain sometimes, and La Liga’s changed so much, there’s so many contrasts now. The difficult situations many clubs are facing at the moment, compared to where Barcelona and Real Madrid are… even though Atleti’s managed to make a difference. The good thing is that it’s not considered unusual for a spanish player to play aboard nowadays. I remember that when I was starting out, people used to complain a lot about the foreign players in La Liga. And when the country began having financial difficulties, they understood. They realized that there was no reason to be scared to leave.Do you feel like it was a privilege having played in England for so long?Yes, England’s football culture is very pure. The whole thing is so well-structured, so thoroughly planned, in every way. They’ve managed to handle the whole T.V. rights situation fantastically, and there aren’t 40 football television programs out there, but one or two, that everyone watches religiously. And of course the schedule is very convenient when it comes to getting people in Africa, Asia or the United States to watch the games. They also get the Stadiums to be at their full capacity week in and week out, because people actually want to see their team play! There’s so much left to do in that sense in Spain, specially where Barcelona and Real Madrid are concerned, both being the most popular clubs in the world. They should sort out the T.V. rights situation and get the other clubs to have as much visibility as those two, and maybe then the league will start being more competitive.You were already an english speaker back in Fuenlabrada, because of your older brother Israel’s music taste…I’ve always been, and still am, a big, big Nirvana fan because of my brother. I grew up listening to their music because when I was little, there was only one music tape at home, and my brother always called the shots as he was the oldest. I read a book about Kurt Cobain’s life very recently: when he was a kid, he liked to listen to music in other languages because he felt very connected to the melodies, while not necessarily to the lyrics. Now that I actually understand his lyrics, perhaps I don’t feel as identified as I did before, but it’s the music I grew up with, and the one I still listen too. Lots of rock and roll, lots of punk-rock.At Atleti, you carried a big responsibility on your shoulders. You were a home-grown player and the team’s captain. At Liverpool, you were considered a legend despite not winning any titles, and at Chelsea, you won almost every title there was to win, yet we didn’t get to see the best version of you. How’s that for an evolution?They were three different stages in my life, and in each of them I had different roles, and in each of them there were good and bad moments. Everyone dreams about having an important role in the clubs they play, and about winning everything at those clubs, but that doesn’t happen very often. In fact it rarely does. I was lucky enough to be able to make my debut as a professional football player for Atleti, at the Calderón at that, which had been my dream since I was little. But beyond that, I never actually thought that I’d get anywhere. I wasn’t expecting any of this to happen. Beyond that, everything’s been a gift. Of course I would’ve liked to have won everything at Atlético, but I couldn’t do it. It’s still a thorn in my side that perhaps will stay there forever, but I will always be proud of the fact that I played my heart out for that shirt. It’s because of that that the people at the club and the supporters still remember me with affection, and I value that more than any title. I had to leave because in that moment, I didn’t feel like staying would do anything for my career, and I felt like we were growing apart, our paths were going in different directions. At Liverpool, everything was perfect at a personal level, but ultimately, I left the Calderón to win titles, and I wasn’t getting them at Anfield either. And then I decided to take another step forward and Chelsea seemed like the better option. However, at Stamford Bridge my role as player became much more secondary, and I had less of an impact than I did at Liverpool or Atlético, but when it came to winning titles, the club gave me everything. If I had the chance to somehow unify these three experiences and have them all in one club, I would, but that’s impossible isn’t it?To have won everything so soon, to be that good that young, do you think it’s affected people’s perception of you?But I hadn’t won anything then! At 25 I still hadn’t won a thing, club-wise. I talked about it with Puyol once, and he told me: “Niño, I was 28, I played for Barcelona, and I hadn’t won anything”. And then in a matter of three years he lifted every trophy there was to lift, three times each. It’s all about spells, periods, winning streaks. When things are going well, you have to take every bit of advantage you can, and when they’re not, you can only work harder to get better, because the opportunity to do so will come. And you have to be ready. In a matter of two years I was able to win all those trophies I hadn’t even come close to winning the years before. And it’s not just me, look at Atleti, for example. They hadn’t won anything in 18 years, and look how much they’ve accomplished in recent times. If you had told that to a fan four, five years ago, they would’ve laughed in your face. The same goes for clubs like Chelsea, or Manchester City. (x)
i think this is one of the best pictures i’ve seen of Zack.
Favourite pictures of Vic Fuentes live
Our brains may lie to us, but our hearts never do.
Rock am Ring 2014