Atletico's Fernando Torres: UCL final is my most important game
Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres says that Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid is the most important game of his life.
Torres, 32, came through the youth ranks at Atletico before moving to Liverpool in 2007 and went on to win the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League with Chelsea, and the Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 titles with Spain.
However his only medal during either of his periods with Atletico was the 2001-02 Segunda Division, when as a teenager he captained his boyhood team through one of the darkest periods in its history.
Now, the final at Milan's San Siro stadium brings a chance to win the biggest club trophy of them all with Atletico, fulfilling what has always been a dream for Torres.
"This is the most important game of my life," he told BeIN Sports. "The chance to fulfil a dream I have had since I was a boy. I prefer not to think too much about it ahead of the day itself. Then what you feel in the moment can be even greater."
Torres said that his career, along with that of younger teammates Koke and Saul Niguez, who are also homegrown, would inspire another generation of Colchoneros youth players break into the first-team.
"I was a kid at the Calderon, went through all the youth ranks, and then had the chance to play alongside my heroes," he said. "Now what I feel is responsibility more than anything else.
"To be an example, like what is also happening now with Koke and with Saul. They were kids when I came into the first-team, and now they are idols for the young fans. Maybe those kids watching us today will come through to the first team, win trophies, and keep this club up at the top."
Torres is out of contract this summer, as the complicated two-year loan deal involving Chelsea and AC Milan which took him back to the Vicente Calderon in January 2015 expires.
This means the Champions League final against Madrid could possibly be his last ever game for Atletico, however he said he remained hopeful that both parties would agree for him to stay a long time more.
"I first hope to win the final, and then we will see what happens," he said. "When all involved want the same thing, there should be no problem. I hope to be here many more years."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan