Youth League: The unexpected passion of Fernando Torres | Sports

The youth team of Atlético de Madrid conclude the warm-up that Fernando Torres (Fuenlabrada, 38 years old), their coach, has followed closely on the pitch. While the kids trot towards the dugout with the same transcendent face as the professionals, the technical neophyte stops on the stairs that lead to the changing rooms to be photographed and sign autographs.

At the foot of the rojiblanco myth that is forged in the same scenarios from which at the beginning of the century emerged as a great promise of Spanish football, several bottles of water rest scattered around the technical area of ​​the main field of the Wanda de Alcalá Sports Center. Minutes later, after giving the pre-match talk, Torres emerges and picks up the containers scattered on the grass one by one. He carries a rolled sheet in his right hand in the manner of American college basketball coaches. He does not get rid of the paper throughout the game, turned into an improvised notebook every time he appreciates a set to be analyzed or thoroughly reviewed with the analysts. Along with these, he will also view the images recorded with the drone that flies over the pitch. Who was going to say it?

Torres never had among his future plans to be a coach. After retiring from him, his new path in football pointed more to the general or sports direction of a club than to the benches. By surprise, one morning he told Bahía, his representative agency, that he wanted to sign up for coaching courses at the Spanish Football Federation. Torres thought that they would be good for the soccer school project that he had in hand and the covid-19 paralyzed.

Neither he himself nor anyone around him thought that the poison from the bench was going to hook him so much until he burned hours and hours to gut the game and his team. “When the course began, he openly said that he does not want to be a coach and that he will never train, that he has retired, that he likes to continue training, but he does not do the math to be a coach,” recalls Israel López, director of the National School of Trainers. “Nobody expected it, he is even obsessive,” says Abraham García, who trained Torres as a youth. They recently met in Majadahonda and he was invited to follow his training. “I saw a lot of normality. He treats his collaborators as equals and is very involved in the dynamics. He pays individual attention to the players, which not everyone does”, says García, who also attended a collection of bottles scattered on the grass of the Cerro del Espino de Majadahonda training ground: “That is Fernando and the values ​​he treats to transmit to the boys”. In his debut last year, in a derby against Real Madrid that ended in defeat (0-1), Torres could not avoid a harangue from Luis Aragonés, his great reference along with Rafa Benítez. “I don’t want nobody on the ground, head up,” he snapped.

“You cut his veins and Atlético bleeds,” says Lauren, a former Mallorca player and the last Arsenal player to win the Premier League. The Cameroonian international is Torres’ promotion partner, like Arbeloa, Duscher, Gorka Iraizoz, Ibagaza or Miguel Torres. “He will be a great coach for any club because he has a great ability to transmit knowledge and knows what he wants. With that it reaches the player very well ”, abounds Lauren, who for a year has been working hand in hand with Arsene Wenger as a football development coach at FIFA. “What caught my attention the most as a student, I think there is one thing that marks Fernando a lot, is that the level of personal demand that he has takes him to the limit, even to the limit. He wants to constantly improve, he wants to constantly put himself out there. We stopped classes, it was time to go eat and he kept going err with erre with his homework”, recalls Israel López.

“I was speaking with him on the phone recently and I perceived him very excited”, says Rafa Benítez, “with things very clear to develop his ideas using technology. He has been very receptive in that line, because now there is a lot of data and not everyone knows how to handle it ”.

In his first season, Torres won the League. In this, his team is the leader tied on points with Real Madrid and this afternoon it will be played in Milan, against the youth rossonero, the second consecutive appearance in the final four of the Youth League. The preparation for the duel prevented Torres from attending last Wednesday the tribute that the club offered to Diego Pablo Simeone for being the coach with the most matches in the club’s history. He recorded a message in his office for his former partner and technician with a whiteboard in the background.

“Fernando likes to analyze everything as he thinks and then listen to our opinion and ask us questions. He is also very passionate, ”says his second, Ricardo Ortega, son of Palito Mínguez, an Atlético winger from the early eighties. Both have known each other since they shared a dressing room in the lower categories of Atlético.

Ortega, like few others, can answer the big question about the main influences that a former player who has a long list of various top-level coaches who directed him can have: Benítez, Ancelotti, Mourinho, Simeone, Aragonés, Bianchi, Del Bosque … “The one who has marked him the most has been Luis Aragonés. He helped him understand football, to train, and with Rafa Benítez he made a quality leap in his career ”.

“More than because of the coaches he had, I think what he had was a clarity about his game philosophy and from there, how he wanted to transfer it and carry it out in his team, both at the level of game philosophy, even by demarcations of what he wanted from each of his footballers. For me, one of his great potentials is the ability for his players to improve football and emotionally ”, warns Israel López.

Torres is in no hurry to make the leap to the professional benches. The normal thing is that next season he will continue in charge of the rojiblanco youth after Luis García Tevenet’s renewal for one year as coach of Atlético B, who plays in the Second RFEF. “In his career as a player, he has always known how to choose the moments well,” warns Abraham García.

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