Fernando Torres has told Marca he is delighted Atletico Madrid have moved on from when he captained the struggling Spanish side as a teenager, and is enjoying watching former teammate Diego Simeone succeeding as Los Colchoneros’ coach.
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Torres joined Atletico’s youth ranks aged 11, and came into the first team as a youngster at a time when the club was involved in bitter legal battles off the pitch, and even played two seasons in Spain’s Segunda Division.
The Chelsea striker revealed that he still watches his former side play whenever he could, and is happy to see them challenging near the top of the Primera Liga standings and competing in the Champions League.
“I watch all the games I can, of course,” Torres said. “And after so many years of suffering… we suffer the same now, but we come out satisfied. It is a big difference. We used to go down Melancolicos [street] with our heads down and now we have our heads up.
“There have been lots of years of work, of fighting, to change things. After the judicial intervention everything was an uphill battle, we are talking about a time dedicated to survival… that was achieved and the present is magnificent.”
Torres recalled how odd it had been when at just 19, he had actually captained a side with the grizzled veteran Simeone in midfield.
“Imagine!” he continued. “Me [as] captain, and Simeone, who had played everywhere and won everything, just one of the private soldiers… ha! I was the captain, but I was the one who had to learn, they showed me what football is.”
The Spain international left for Liverpool in summer 2007 and spent three-and-a-half seasons at Anfield before joining Chelsea for 50 million pounds in January 2011.
Torres is still occasionally linked with a return to the Estadio Vicente Calderon club, but his current salary at Stamford Bridge and Atletico’s huge debts make such a move unlikely.
And when asked if he would like to work under Simeone at some point in his career, the 29-year-old was non-committal.
“Well, like all the coaches I have had, I am thinking about Rafa Benítez, [Jose] Mourinho himself now…,” he said. “I learned a lot with El Cholo as a teammate; I can imagine the type of coach he would be, the one he is.”
Simeone's side sit just three points behind Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid, and are confident of reaching the quarterfinals of the Champions League after a 1-0 first-leg victory against AC Milan at the San Siro last week.