Fernando Torres has said that he is delighted to be back at Atletico Madrid after 45,000 fans turned out to welcome him at the Vicente Calderon.
Seven years after leaving the Spanish capital for Liverpool, the 30-year-old is back with his boyhood club and determined to rediscover former glories. Torres built his reputation as a blistering frontman with Atleti, and transferred that to Liverpool where he ran up a tally of 65 Premier League goals alone.
That triggered Chelsea spending £50million on him in 2011, but despite winning the UEFA Champions and Europa League with the Blues, he scored just 45 goals in 172 games – just 20 of them in the league – and was shipped out on loan to AC Milan.
The indifference towards him has not reached Atletico, though, with the club’s fans turning out en masse to welcome him back to the Vicente Calderon.
“Just over seven years since we parted, today we are here at last and for me this is a very special and exciting day,” Torres said at his unveiling by the La Liga holders.
“I know that I have come to a team of champions. This team is very competitive; I have enjoyed the victories from the outside. Last season (winning the title) is an example of what this club is. I am delighted to be back because it is always nice to come home.”
Torres added that feeling wanted was crucial to his return.
“I thank everyone who made it possible, (president) Enrique Cerezo, (chief executive) Miguel Angel Gil and (coach) Diego Simoene,” he said. “They have made me realise that I am wanted, that I am a major player.”
And, despite his differing fortunes on his travels, Torres believes he is returning home a better all-round package.
“Personally I am more mature and happy. I have my family and that’s the most important thing to me,” he said.
“On a sporting level I left as a boy aged 24; I needed to leave for the club and myself to grow. It was the hardest decision of my career but thankfully time has proven us right. We have grown, the club has won titles and I have got the titles I sought. But I am looking forward to being here because I have many things to win.”
It will be interesting to see how Diego Simeone uses Torres, and whether he can get him back to anything near his Liverpool form.