Fernando Torres claims to be a 'better player and better person' for Chelsea woes


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The Independent Football

Fernando Torres today declared he was a "better player and better person" for his turbulent first 18 months at Chelsea but admitted he would not want to go through it again.

Torres insisted he would "change nothing that happened" to him last season because it made him "stronger than ever" and categorically denied threatening to walk away from Stamford Bridge if he was not guaranteed first-team football.

That was certainly the impression the Spain striker gave after May's Champions League final, when he revealed the depth of his despair since his record-shattering £50million move from Liverpool a year and a half ago.

Torres' fortunes have transformed dramatically since then, the 28-year-old winning the Golden Boot at the European Championship and - with Didier Drogba now out of the picture - starting this season on fire in front of goal.

He looks certain to lead the line again against former club Atletico Madrid tomorrow in the UEFA Super Cup and speaking in Monaco today, he said: "I would change nothing that happened to me last season.

"That taught me a lot of things. I learned a lot about a lot of people, in both ways. I learned a lot of things last season - good, bad. It made me a better player, a better person, and I'm stronger than ever now."

He added: "In these 18 months, I've become a better player. I have played in a different way to that I played at Liverpool.

"I can play more outside the box, associating more with my team-mates. I gave a lot of assists last season. I can mix it more."

Torres admitted that last term he felt like a teenager having to prove himself all over again.

"I'd never been on the bench like eight games in a row," he said.

"I started to understand everyone in the team. When you're playing, you don't think about these things.

"But when you're there, you understand what people go through on the bench. It was a new experience. I learned a lot of things about that, which made me a better team-mate.

"I always tried to be a good team-mate, as I was as captain in Madrid. But I lost that at Liverpool, when I was never captain.

"[At Chelsea] I went back to when I was 17 or 18, having to fight every day for my place.

"I never want to go back to that situation again."

Torres was the most expensive player ever transferred between British clubs and is likely to remain so for some time.

"The money Chelsea paid for me was never something I was worried about," he said.

"It didn't make me play badly. It was just a difficult change from Liverpool to Chelsea. The adaptation took more time than it should.

"But all these things are in the past. Let's think about the present. The future can be brilliant, even better."

He added: "You know you're going to play, or think you are, and that gives you more time to play your football.

"That's the main difference between this and the previous one-and-a-half seasons at Chelsea.

"I'm playing more minutes and the confidence is back."

Torres has doubtless been helped by Chelsea's summer signings and he was looking forward to a bright future.

"Let's enjoy now. The team is playing really well, the new players are settled and doing well, and we're in a good run now," he said.

"Let's go about winning the first trophy of the season for Chelsea tomorrow. If we do that, there'll be more to come for Chelsea."

Torres may not want to relive the recent past but was happy to reminisce about his time at Atletico, who he will face for the first time tomorrow since leaving five years ago.

"It couldn't be more special for me. Since my time at Atletico, I've felt the support of their fans," he said.

"They know I was and am one of them. I've been more than 12 years of my life there.

"It was not only my former club, but the club I support. Tomorrow is so special and I have to leave all those things apart.

"My only commitment is to win this cup. We have to beat Atletico so it's going to be about separating myself from these feelings I've had all my life.

"After the game, I'll go back to being the Atletico supporter I've always been."