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Fernando Torres: "Leicester are like Atletico - they are willing to die for one another"

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He might not have made the cut for Spain’s Euro 2016 squad, announced earlier this morning, but it’s perhaps testament to the career rejuvenation of one Fernando Torres that the striker's omission will be met in some quarters with surprise.

Deemed a flop following his £50m transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea (despite a Champions League win) and also on loan with AC Milan, now back at hometown club Atletico, the 32-year-old has proved he's not finished at the top yet, rediscovering the sort of electric form which saw him entrance the Kop on a regular basis. If rumours are to be believed, he might be signing a new two year deal. 

Scoring 10 La Liga goals (his biggest league tally for the first time since 2009-2010 with Liverpool) as Atletico took the title race to the wire, the Spaniard has also been playing a deeper, more selfless role as the front man in Diego Simeone’s defensive-minded side, and now finds himself preparing for a Champions League final in which Atletico will be hoping to avoid a repeat of 2014's final against local rivals Real.

Before that though, it's likely the striker will have one eye on tomorrow's Europa League final, which sees his former club Liverpool vying for another special European night. In fact when ShortList catches up with the striker, it's clear he still has an affinity with the Reds, claiming he misses the city and even finding time to champion current Anfield hero Daniel Sturridge, who he also believes could be England's biggest threat at Euro 2016.

A competition he knows a little about.


It’s another all-Spanish Champions League final – why do you think Spanish teams are continuing to dominate in Europe?
The top Spanish teams are very strong at the moment. These things often go in cycles, and at the moment La Liga is very strong. It will be a close game.

Are you looking forward to possibly facing Leicester in the Champions League next season?
It’s a great story. They have won the league this season because they have deserved to, and it will be interesting to see how they do in the Champions League.

Many similarities have been drawn between Ranieri’s team and Atletico’s counter attacking non-possession style – do you see any similarities?
We have a very distinct style at Atletico, but I do see similarities in their work ethic and how they play for each other. We are willing to die for each other on the field, and I saw that with Leicester.

Which English players do you think could cause the biggest threat at the competition?
Daniel Sturridge can be such a dangerous player. I know what it is like to suffer with injuries, and when he has stayed injury free he looks one of the most dangerous strikers in England. After the season he has had with Tottenham I also think Harry Kane can cause a lot of teams in France problems.

1

Scoring vs Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg

Do you think England could win Euro 2016? Why do you think England have struggled in previous tournaments, as Spain did not so long ago?
They can do well, they showed that in qualification.  Maybe like Spain before Euro 2008, the block is in their head and not down to talent.

What do you miss about England? And what don't you miss about England?
Liverpool was a special city that took to me, I will always remember how special that place was. I obviously don’t miss the rain.

You still have many Liverpool supporters who hold fond memories of you – have you been following their Europa League campaign? Been impressed with what Jurgen Klopp is doing?
I have been very impressed with some of the football they have been playing this season. Liverpool Football Club belongs in the Champions League, and I hope that is where they are very soon.

You ultimately won the Champions League with Chelsea but do you regret moving to Stamford Bridge from Liverpool in hindsight?
I am so happy and playing with such confidence right now, that I am not willing to relive any bad moments at all.

Why do you think Jose Mourinho struggled so badly this season?
I don’t know, it’s been a disappointing season for Chelsea, but I am sure next season they will come back stronger. 

Diego Simeone seems like a crazy character. What’s he like to work with – any fun stories about him?
Every game we play is like going into battle for him. Not just Champions League Finals or when we play Real Madrid or Barcelona, every game is like a war for him. 

Do you think it helps that opposition coaches/players are scared of him? He looks like a mafia hitman.
[Laughs] I’m not so sure about that! Not scared so much, but they all respect him.

Torres

With current coach and all-round badass Diego Simeone

You’re 32 now – what’s it like coming up against a number of teenagers in the professional game?
They are full of energy, but you hope that experience can get the better of them. We have some young players at Atletico and I offer advice, but also I am learning off them. You can feed of their energy.

What advice would you give a young striker entering the game now?
Talent is not enough now. Players are getting faster, stronger, fitter all the time. If you want to make it at the top level now you need to live right, talent is not enough anymore. 

Will you be disappointed if you don’t get a recall for Spain soon?
You always want to represent your country, but the way that happens is by performing as well as you can for your club. That is all I can do.

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