Fernando Torres was presented with his Golden Boot for Euro 2012 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday afternoon, but stressed the importance of team goals when discussing the award.
The striker netted three times in just 189 minutes of action as his country lifted their third successive major championship in Ukraine in the summer, and he is now faced with the task of overcoming that country’s best team as we look to maintain our Champions League assault.
The pressure is on, but Torres draws strength from past experience as he considers what is to come in west London this evening.
‘These games are difficult and everyone is worried, you can feel it with the fans, but these are the games you always want to play in,’ said the 28-year-old. ‘It’s nice to play football, but when you have to play with pressure, to win something, to stay alive or go through, this kind of game is where you see the good players, and I am sure you will see people like Mata, Oscar and Hazard shining. That’s why they are top players, and you will see it.
‘Pressure is just a normal thing for us. I played my first game at 16, I didn’t feel the pressure then because I didn’t understand the importance of football. When you are like that it is much easier to play, the main thing is just playing football. It is when you start to realise and understand everything you start to think too much and that can be a problem.’
So the emphasis tonight is on simply winning. As it was for Spain in the summer, when Torres had to frequently take a back seat while his team-mates progressed to the Final against Italy, where he came off the bench to score one and create another for Mata. Clutching his Golden Boot, he looks back not on the individual achievement but what it signified for the team.
‘This kind of award is not the one you are going into a tournament for. We didn’t go looking for an individual award, it came because the team was great and we got to the Final,’ he explained. ‘As a striker I have more chances to score goals, but it isn’t something I was looking for. It’s like something as a present from the tournament.
‘To be a part of this Spanish generation is amazing and I don’t know if we can do much more. From the first Euros to the World Cup and the last Euros, these last years together were amazing, and we have more or less the same squad. Maybe there is still time to be even better.
‘We suffered a lot before we won the first Euros. Everyone was blaming us after the Germany World Cup, even before the Euros in 2008 we played the friendlies before the tournament and we were being booed and whistled.
‘The manager was being asked if we could go through the first round, nobody believed in us, but now it looks like everyone was with us and we were amazing from the beginning, but we had to build the team and now we have to enjoy it because difficulties will come again. We learned what the word’ unit’ means in that situation.’
Chelsea, too, know the benefits of teamwork. Without it we would not have reached, or indeed triumphed, in Munich last May. Now it is crunch time again.
Fernando Torres has also been speaking to Chelsea TV ahead of tonight’s game. A clip can be viewed above with the full interview available now via the channel’s online access.
Chelsea TV will be on air tonight with Match Night Live, and here’s what’s coming up in the show:
• 6.30pm – Chelsea TV’s Gigi Salmon and Pat Nevin will be joined by special guest and Dutch footballer Bolo Zenden and they will all be on hand with exclusive build-up ahead of the game, including interviews with first team players and team news first. We will also be in and around the stadium bringing you all of the pre-match atmosphere from the home of the Blues.
• 7.45pm – Listen to the game LIVE wherever you may be – On TV, online or mobile.
• 10pm – Our presenters will be back in the studio for post-match reaction and a phone-in where you can share your views on the team’s performance against Shakhtar Donetsk.