Ahead of his big money move to Manchester City on Tuesday, Ferran Torres spent an hour in conversation with Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.
In anticipation of his transfer being rubberstamped this week, the former Valencia attacker lifted the lid on everything from his upbringing, family and footballing philosophy.
Torres also discussed his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo, his favourite position and his close relationship with his sister.
Balague’s media team have supplied Tribalfootball.com with a complete transcript of the interview and we’ve picked out the best bits below:
GROWING UP IN VALENCIA
Guillem: What is Foios like?
Ferrán: It’s a small town in the northern side of Valencia, I was raised there, have all my friends there and the truth is I feel very much at home there.
G: What was the street where you ran and played football in like?
F: Well the truth is is was quiet so I could play there but the truth is I didn’t go out to play there that much because thank God, we lived in a house that had a lower level and it was there that I had my goal, and my dogs who acted as defenders and I could play there and pass the time away very well.
G: So you had your own garden where you would play with the ball, all hours.
F: All the time. I also had a dog whose sole intention was to try to get the ball off me, and that also helped.
G: What were the street games like?
F: I began by playing indoor five-a-side football at my school. It was only for about a year but you learn a lot because it was different to what 7-a-side and 11-a-side football is, and it helped me a lot. I didn’t play a lot in the street because I am a child of the 21st century and things now are much more modern.
G; I guess that in the street you learnt things even before you arrived at Valencia that stood you in good stead when you finally got there and that you are still aware of these days.
F: At the time you don’t think that you going to become a first division footballer but I believe that we all begin more than anything because we like to be with our friends, to play with them and have a good time. But of course there are moments from those days that stay with, that you never forget. The fact is I enjoyed a very happy childhood.
G: Share with us some of those moments.
F: They were mainly anecdotes of things that happened with my mates when we were small and playing games and teasing each other about who was going to score more goals and who was going to create most of the goals and I think it was for that reason at school we had our best ever year and scored more goals that any other year in the history of the school.
G: Where did you play?
F: I just wanted to score. I wouldn’t even pass the ball
G: Was it you that used to bring the ball?
F: Yes, the presents I always got were footballs, shinpads or boots. I didn’t want anything else. My first boots were a present from my mother from a shop called Base Sport in Torrente. I will always remember them. I was seven years, and it was just when I had just signed for Valencia. I used to go to school wearing my boots with the studs in and I started a trend. I went to school wearing my football boots and the following week other kids would also come to school wearing them. Why are you wearing those, I used to ask them, if you don’t play football?
G: And what did they say?
F: They did look at me a bit strangely.
G: Football was clearly in you right from the beginning. But why do you think? Do you come from a footballing family?
F: My father was never a footballer, and even less so because of having his son around him ..it was my mother who was a real football fanatic, she loved watching football. My uncle played at quite a good level but never made it to professional standard but there was never a professional footballer in my family before.
G: When you made the jump were you thinking that this was not how you were going to earn your living but rather, “I’m good at this?”
F: I will tell you an anecdote. When I was 12 years old that summer I grew 12cms. What happened? I arrived at Valencia pre-season and I couldn’t even control the ball, I was clumsy, and I was falling over when running by myself and it was at this point that I was convinced that this was the end of football for me… that I was no good. That same year I caught glandular fever, and from that moment on once I got better I started to make my way up. They kept putting up a level, then another, then another, until I got to where I am today.
G: How old were you when you joined Valencia?
F: I was seven years old, even pre-Benjamin (football clubs’ youngest age groups). I went there for a bit of an adventure. After I played a game at school they asked me to go for trials to Valencia. It was a trial which was a small game with people that had already been signed and they also signed me on.
G: What are trials for a boy of seven years old like?
F: I went there aged just seven and thought ok then. I didn’t think about it and wasn’t aware of the implications. My mother told to go there, that I had nothing to lose and it ended well and it is her I need to thank for taking me.
G: You understand that you are a point of reference to you people. Personally, it would frighten me if I was a point of reference to anything at the age of just 20. But you carry it well, no?
F: Yes, I do carry it well. The truth is that I do.
G: Who is, or are, your references?
F: From an early age I had two main references, one when I was very small and he arrived at Valencia and that was David Villa. Villa and Silva the duo that took Valencia to such great heights. But for me, Cristiano above all is a great reference not just because of the way he plays his football but also because of the way he carries himself away from football. It is worthy of admiration and I would like to follow his steps.
G: You know that he went through many difficulties, that he left a place that it was very difficult for him to leave, that he went out to conquer the world, and that at the age of just 18 he lived in Manchester without fear..I guess you know all about that and that you also admire him. No?
F: Yes it’s what you say; he went out to eat the world and I believe he has eaten it.
G: When he arrived in Manchester they laughed at his accent, in fact when he left Madeira to go to Lisbon they laughed at his accent because it was a very strong Madeiran accent. A bit like you speaking Valencian in Catalonia. But when he left Portugal and went to Manchester they laughed at his accent and his answer was to say, “how many languages do you speak?” because the person he was speaking to only spoke English. From the start he had to fight people’s perception of him that he was a boy from a village, deal with people’s envy of him and he spent more time on the training ground than anyone else. Does that ring any bells with you?
F: Yes, it has always been instilled in me that when people that are jealous or speak badly about you it’s because you are obviously doing something well.
G: And what about doing extra work in training. That as well?
F: With me it’s always been a case of arriving before everyone. Before training has begun, and later if necessary I will stay but I am also a believer in the necessity of resting well.
G: He is also a believer in this. But one of the things he would do afterwards in the summer in temperatures of 42 degrees in Funchal is put weights on his ankles and goes running. I don’t know if you have seen Funchal but it’s like this [your hand indicates that it is very hilly]. This lunacy to get better is what those that strive to be amongst the elite bring with them.
F: Some will have it more, some less but I believe that every player has to have this if he wants to make something of himself in football. If you want to be just one more of the rest then you don’t put yourself through these sort of things.
G: Have you ever done any of these crazy sort of things?
F: The truth is I am a very stubborn person and I enjoy training and I did not enjoy resting but wanted to get better all the time. I thought I could do it and sometimes they had to put the brakes on me.
G: Was it the coach or did you realise that not like this…?
F: I noticed it myself on occasions.
G: Cristiano would jump over fences to be able to get into gymnasiums that were closed so he could lift weights without knowing what he was doing. Have you been done this road?
F: No nothing so heavy because in the end…
G: …it’s a lunacy.
F: Of course
G: But the reference is also with the way of playing I guess.
F: Yes players on the flanks, power house. Yes
G: But wingers… I have the feeling that in your case you will not finish on the flanks because you have so much to your game and so much potential that the chances are you will end up playing in the middle very much like has happened to him.
F: Maybe my best position at the moment is on the flanks but with the passing years when I get a bit older and perhaps lose a bit of speed and the power that I am known for then maybe I will finish playing inside because I have played there in the past.
G: But you like playing on the wing.
F: Yes and something else they have instilled in me since I was small is that the more positions you can cover on the pitch then the more possibilities you have to play and the more you can contribute.
G: I have always had a doubt about those that play on the wing. The white line, is it a friend of an enemy?
F: Well for me it is an enemy because sometimes you are left without a pitch.
G: But it is a reference point, the end of the line, and you almost establish a relationship with it. Is that right?
F: Yes because in the end players like me are always open and practically our closest companion is the sideline because we are practically always on top of it.
G: And the ball? Do you talk to it?
F: No but I hug it, I go to sleep with it in my bed but I don’t talk to it. I’m not that mad.
G: Who told me that? Roberto Carlos talked to the ball. He picked a ball up and started talking to it.
F: Mama mia, every one has his…
G: … His own thing. But he was very grateful to the ball and to football because it had taken him to many places and he had done many things. I think you are on the same road to being thankful to football.
G: And finally, while you were hugging the ball as a youngster, what were you dreaming of?
F: Firstly about being a footballer, but in being the best footballer in the world. That is my dream.
G: What’s the age difference between you?
F: Six years.
G: I have seen you speak together and she seems like a very mature person.
F: Very much so.
G: Why is she such an important reference for you?
F: She’s been through some very difficult and complex times and she has confronted them and come through them and she has her own career, her masters degree and that has a great merit. She has always been super protective of me.
G: Is she your best friend?
F: Yes, my confidante.
G: Explain the tattoo to me.
F: We have a tattoo on our ankles which is an anchor in which are the words, “I refuse to sink” because we have gone through difficult times together and we have always come through them and moved forward.
G: Why is it in English?
F: I don’t know, I think it looks better in English.
G: Where did you get the phrase?
F; I think it’s from a song that I can’t remember at the moment, but I think we first saw it on Instagram and my sister sent it to me and when we saw it we knew we had to have a tattoo of it.
G: Arantxa is the person that knows your secrets, is your confidante. Is she the first person you ask “what shall I do” when you are faced with various options?
F: Yes I think that the reason I get on so well with her is because she knows how to stay on the margins, not to smother me, and I know that if I want something I can go to her. She will never ask me, but when I have any doubts about anything or any type of problem, the first person I always go to is she.