Span­ish star Tor­res dreams of Cup glory


FRESH from set­ting a new record at club side Liver­pool, hav­ing racked up 50 Premier League strikes quicker than any other player in the An­field out­fit’s his­tory, Fer­nando Tor­res re­mains as fiercely am­bi­tious as ever.

Still known as El Niño (The Kid), though he is now a fa­ther him­self, the 25-year-old spoke to about his fine cur­rent form and his goals for the fu­ture at club and in­ter­na­tional level. Fer nando, last month you were in­cluded in the Fifa/Fifpro World XI 2009. How did it feel to know that over 50,000 pro­fes­sional play­ers voted?

Fer­nando Tor­res: It’s a real source of joy and sat­is­fac­tion as well a huge priv­i­lege. Re­ceiv­ing this kind of recog­ni­tion from your fel­low pro­fes­sion­als is some­thing very spe­cial, which fills you with pride. The fact they ad­mire what you do spurs you on to keep im­prov­ing, to try and con­tinue form­ing part of this XI. What’s your ver­dict on 2009? Be­ing in­cluded in the World XI without hav­ing won any sil­ver­ware makes me even more mo­ti­vated. What I mean is, though col­lec­tively we’ve not had the best of luck, on a per­sonal note the bal­ance is right and I’m do­ing my job well. I have to keep that go­ing. We just need a lit­tle more luck as a team to be able to win a tro­phy.

Things have not gone well for Liver­pool so far this sea­son. Is the club ca­pa­ble of turn­ing things around?

Un­for­tu­nately this sea­son is not turn­ing out how we’d wanted, but our best is still to come. Let’s hope that we can put a string of good per­for­mances to­gether come the endof-sea­son run-in and the most piv­otal mo­ments, and that we can put right what we’ve not done so well up to now. And who knows, in May we might well be talk­ing about how good a sea­son it’s been. We’ve still got ob­jec­tives to aim for.

In that case, is there con­fi­dence in the man­ager and within the squad?

Of course. We’re ex­tremely con­fi­dent that we can re­gain the po­si­tion (in the ta­ble) that we de­serve and that it’s still in our hands. We’re vir­tu­ally the same team that fin­ished sec­ond in the League last sea­son and we’re go­ing to do ev­ery­thing we can to im­prove our sit­u­a­tion.

With Spain, on the other hand, things are go­ing ex­tremely well, with La Roja winning all ten of their 2010 Fifa World Cup qual­i­fiers. In your opin­ion, what was the high­light of the year for Spain?

I think that the most pos­i­tive thing was how we bounced back af- ter los­ing in the semi-fi­nals of the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup. In a way, that de­feat did us good by help­ing us re­alise that the road to the World Cup wasn’t go­ing to be easy, but that we had to stay on track. And what bet­ter way to do that than winning ten games in a row in qual­i­fy­ing. We’ve re­cov­ered any con­fi­dence that we may have lost that day against the United States. What mat­ters is we’re head­ing into the World Cup un­beaten and we want to fin­ish it that way, without los­ing to any­body. Do you think de­feat against USA has made you stronger?

The squad’s al­ways had its feet on the ground. Hu­mil­ity is the hall­mark of this na­tional side. But we’ve re­alised that any­body can have a bad day and that a bad day puts you out of the World Cup. That was made very clear to us at the Con­fed­er­a­tions! But we now know what we have to do so it doesn’t hap­pen again. South Africa 2010 is our big chance and we don’t want to waste it.

Spain have been drawn in Group H along­side Switzer­land, Hon­duras and Chile. How do you rate your group ri­vals?

As I was say­ing, the de­feat against the USA taught us that any team can make life hard for you. You have to have a lot of re­spect for ev­ery op­po­nent.

Our goal is to take each game as it comes and fin­ish top of the group. Who­ever we face in the Round of 16 will be fear­some, whether we fin­ish first or sec­ond, be­cause there are some of the best teams in the world in Group G.

But if you want to be world cham­pi­ons you have to be ready to take on any na­tional side.

Your winning goal in the fi­nal of Uefa Euro 2008 clinched Spain’s first tro­phy at se­nior level since the 1964 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship. Can you see your­self re­peat­ing the feat in a few months’ time?

We all dream of winning an­other fi­nal, par­tic­u­larly at a World Cup which is what ev­ery foot­baller aims for. I think that at one time or an­other we’ve all pic­tured our­selves be­ing pho­tographed lift­ing the World Cup.

Let’s hope that it hap­pens this time round. We know it’s dif­fi­cult, but we’re go­ing to give ev­ery­thing we’ve got be­cause we’re in good form and we may not find our­selves in a sit­u­a­tion like this again.

Pele has said that the cur­rent Spain side re­minds him of the Brazil team which tri­umphed at Mex­ico 1970. What is more, that Seleção also went into the World Cup fi­nals af­ter winning all their qual­i­fy­ing matches.

When a foot­ball leg­end speaks, you just have to lis­ten. It’s an added mo­ti­va­tion for us. How­ever, that’s also a warn­ing shot for our op­po­nents and will make them more de­fen­sive against us. Let’s hope that once the World Cup is over we can say that Pele was right. What’s your wish for 2010? Just as ev­ery year, my wish is that we’re lucky with in­juries. Not just me, but all my team-mates too be­cause there are some very big matches com­ing up and that way we’ll be com­pet­ing on a level play­ing field.

If that’s the case, may the best team win. –

EL NINO: Spain striker Fer­nando Tor­res seen here in action against Bafana Bafana dur­ing the FIFA Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup last year.

SOUL­MATES: Brazil leg­end Pele has likened the cur­rent Spain side to the great Brazil team of 1970.

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