Departing Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres said he would like to return in an off-field role in the future after scoring twice in an emotional farewell in his last game for his boyhood club.
Torres, 34, was welcomed onto the pitch at the Wanda Metropolitano — along with the 2017-18 Europa League trophy, secured last Wednesday — by a banner reading “From Child To Legend” before scoring both goals in a 2-2 draw against Eibar.
After scoring 129 goals in 404 games with Atletico, Torres said it was difficult to know he would never put on the shirt again, but that he believes his connection to the club will continue at some point in the coming years.
“When I left [the first time], I dreamed about returning, and I had the chance to come back to Atletico,” Torres said. “As a player, I won’t be back again. The most difficult [thing] is that this is over, I will never put on this jersey again.
“What the future holds, I cannot say. When you are so connected to a club, the normal thing is that we find each other again. I hope I return. With my experience, I can help in the club’s global growth. I don’t know if I will be prepared. I need some time to reflect, but it would be magnificent to help in whatever way I could.”
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) May 20, 2018
On the final whistle, Torres addressed the fans from the centre circle, accompanied by his family, and gave an emotional speech before ending by joining the crowd in singing the club’s anthem.
“I’m very proud to have been part of this group,” Torres told the crowd. “For sure, you are going to achieve what we all want. I give thanks to all the Atletico family. It has been a privilege to wear this jersey more than 400 times [and] it is very hard to know this is the end.
“You’ve made me the happiest person in the world. I’m going to ask one more thing of you: to sing our club anthem, the loveliest song in the world.”
It was also an emotional afternoon for many of Torres’ teammates. Antoine Griezmann, Atletico’s top scorer and a player who may also leave in the coming weeks — possibly to join Barcelona — posted a photo on Twitter of the two players embracing with the caption “A day to enjoy.”
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