Fernando Torres dismissed accusations of disloyalty over his controversial move from Liverpool to Chelsea yesterday by declaring that "romance is dead" in football when it comes to players sticking with their clubs and said he did not have the time to wait for Liverpool to rebuild.
In a frank and revealing press briefing, Torres said that he simply ran out of patience with Liverpool and feared that he would miss out on collecting the domestic trophies that so many of his Spain World Cup-winning team-mates have. He denied the allegations of hypocrisy over his previous protestations of loyalty to Liverpool by claiming that the only club he really loved was his childhood side, Atletico Madrid.
Asked whether he had overstated his affection for Liverpool with the club's support, Torres said he had never kissed the badge of his Liverpool shirt and would not be doing it with his Chelsea jersey either. He said: "I was not a Liverpool fan or a Chelsea fan in Madrid. I was an Atletico fan. I still am. Maybe they're the only badge I will kiss."
It was hard to argue with Torres's uncompromising logic that he had to get out of Liverpool to give himself the opportunity of being successful, but that is unlikely to save him from a very harsh reception from the travelling Liverpool support at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
With the likelihood that he will start, Torres said that he would not celebrate if he scored against his former side but that was the only concession to sentimentality he made. He disagreed with accusations that he was a traitor, saying that he had given Liverpool three and a half good seasons as well as generating the club a major profit.
Torres said: "I see some players doing that [kissing the badge] when they join a club, but the romance in football has gone. It's a different thing now. People [players] are coming and leaving. When you are joining a club you want to do the best for yourself and that club, and that's all. Some people like to kiss the badge. They can do it. I only want to score goals and do my job, and achieve all the targets the team has.
"I took the decision to leave Liverpool because I heard about Chelsea's interest. They were pushing hard, which means they really wanted me. I really wanted to leave Liverpool, so I told them straight. Everything was clear. At the end of the day, it's about being fair and honest with everyone.
"When I'm 40 or 45, I'd like to look back and see pictures of me as a champion. I was lucky to be involved in the Spanish team winning the Euros and the World Cup, but I want to see that I've done that at a club."
Torres did not duck any of the difficult questions about his decision to leave Liverpool in spite of the pledges of loyalty and affiliation he had made to the club. Instead he said that when he learned of Chelsea's interest he approached the Liverpool owner, John Henry, and told him that he wanted the club to accept Roman Abramovich's offer.
He said that he had thought for the last two years that his future might lie away from Anfield. "Especially [the situation] with the [former] owners," Torres said. "I think when the new owner, John Henry, came and brought his team with him, the club was moving in the right direction. They have ambition and they know how to do things and go back to the way they were.
"It is my opinion, though, that they need time for that. Maybe they need the time now – but I'm at my best age to play football. I explained my situation, my feelings, and was honest with everyone. I told everyone, face to face, my feelings and that I wanted to leave for Chelsea. They didn't hear that in the press. They heard it from me. That was maybe 10 or 12 days before the window closed."
The dawning realisation this season that it could be a relegation battle rather than a title race that Liverpool found themselves in was, said Torres, the clinching argument. He came back from the World Cup finals with a winner's medal – albeit "I wasn't happy with my performance" – and realised soon after that Liverpool were also heading in the wrong direction.
"I don't think it's fair [to be called a traitor], but it's an opinion. I will never talk badly about any ex-Liverpool players or staff. They can say what they want. I think 'traitor' makes no sense. I played three very good seasons there, left massive money there, lots of goals, good performances. I helped the sale process as well.
"I'm very happy with everything I did there. I understand it's a difficult situation now, especially in the transfer window, but I have to think about my career as a footballer. It's a step forward, everyone agrees."
There was further evidence from Torres that Abramovich will spend again in the summer to add to the signings of the striker and David Luiz, the Brazilian defender from Benfica, who was back in Portugal yesterday and returns to London today. Manager Carlo Ancelotti said he was not yet sure whether the £21.5m signing would be available tomorrow.
Torres said that Abramovich made "a big effort" to sign him. "The value of players is going down in football at the moment, but he paid big money for me because he has confidence in me. I know the plans, the ambitions for the future. I'm happy to be here because I think in the same way. I want to be involved in that future.
"[He is] building a great team to keep competing with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, fighting to be the biggest club in England and the best in Europe. That's what I want. I like new challenges. This is a new one, and one I like."
The only part of Torres's argument that was hard to believe was his claim that he thought he would get a fair reception from the Liverpool fans tomorrow. "I don't know – they will not really know what to do," he said. "Maybe it's too soon to ask for a good reception. I'm not expecting that. But it would be a surprise for me if I get a very bad reception from them."
Torres said that Steven Gerrard had not tried to persuade him to stay at Liverpool but had simply said that he must make the best decision for himself and his family. As for Jamie Carragher he said: "I'm sure he understands my decision. I'm sure he wanted me to stay, but it's the same for me when [Xabi] Alonso or [Javier] Mascherano left Liverpool. I understood why they did it, for a new life. Plenty of my ex-team-mates have congratulated me for this move."
What price loyalty?
Maybe they taste nice. What other explanation can there be for those players who run to the fans and kiss the club badges on their shirts with such enthusiasm, then eagerly accept a transfer to another club? Kiss the badge, then make them cry.
Rooney's loyalty is well-known. Ask Evertonians, who know that the phrase 'once a blue, always a blue' is not worth the shirt it is stencilled on. He wouldn't do that to Manchester United though? Hmmm, the contract dispute earlier this season suggests otherwise.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
The Dutch striker averaged 30 goals a season in five years at Old Trafford, but then his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson broke down. Van Nistelrooy may have loved United, but neither man would back down so the player headed off to Real Madrid.
Arsène Wenger rescued Henry from his exile on the wing at Juventus, and Arsenal supporters adored him. So when Barcelona approached in 2006, Henry said no, and agreed a huge new contract. A year later he said yes, citing the exit of director David Dein as the reason.
At least some players can be relied upon. As the banner at Stamford Bridge reads: Captain, leader, legend. Having come through the ranks Terry is approaching 500 games. Just don't mention the summer of 2009 when he kept quiet while Manchester City bid for him. A pay rise confirmed his loyalty.