Atletico Madrid forward Fernando Torres has called Saturday’s Champions League final with Real Madrid the game of his life as he yearns for a first trophy with his boyhood club.
Torres made his debut for the Madrid team in 2001 after joining their youth setup as a child and later became captain before departing for Liverpool in 2007.
He returned to Atletico in January 2015, missing out on a glut of trophies between 2012-14 and their 4-1 defeat by Real in the 2014 Champions League final.
Although Torres won the Champions League with Chelsea and two European Championships and the World Cup with Spain, he said all those triumphs would pale by comparison to Atletico becoming kings of Europe.
“Without any doubt it’s the most important, special and lovely game of my life,” Torres told a news conference on Friday.
“Anything I can do with the club that gave me the chance to start my career, the team I was a fan of since I was five years old, is different to anything else I’ve won.
“I won things with Chelsea, with Spain, but this is different, this is special,” added Torres. “It’s what I wanted when I was a kid, more than I dreamed.”
Real ruled the Spanish capital when Torres was in his first spell at Atletico but inspirational coach Diego Simeone has cut the gap to their neighbours since taking charge four and a half years ago.
Although the memory of that painful last-gasp defeat in Lisbon in 2014 is difficult to erase, Simeone has earned Atletico a place at European football’s top table, knocking out holders Barcelona and Bayern Munich on their way to a second final in three years.
“The success has been in our continuity and our work. There are very few teams better than Atletico — Bayern, Barcelona and maybe Real but very few others,” Simeone said.
“It’s down to stability, balance, work, enormous competitiveness, internally and externally. That has put us where we are and the only way to keep that going is to keep winning.”
The Argentine also said he felt no pressure about being on the verge of leading the club, founded in 1903, to a first European Cup final victory.
Simeone added: “I love having 113 years of history on my shoulders, I love it.”