Teenage Atlético cantera product Óliver Torres is creating quite the buzz among the Colchonero faithful.
An in-depth interview of the 17-year-old that appeared in Marca on Sunday is just another testament to the attention he has commanded on the back of his dazzling play in the recent U-19 European Championship with title-winners Spain – coupled with his superb displays in early pre-season action with Atleti.
A shy young boy, ‘Oli’ has revealed that it’s been somewhat uncomfortable dealing with the shine of the spotlight, though he assures he is living out his dream.
Below is an excerpt from the interview conducted by Marca’s Luis Aznar on Sunday, the entirety of which can be found here.
“My dream was to debut with Atlético’s first team and finally, I’ve been able to achieve that,” he told the Madrid-based paper.
“Plus, I’ve even played in the Calderón. Hopefully one day I can do it in an official match. I hope I never wake up from this dream.”
On all the media attention
“My life has changed for the better, but also, in some areas, for the worse. I don’t like to appear on TV or in the newspapers, but I know these are things I have to get used to. I’m very happy about everything that’s happening to me. Not so long ago at all I was on my Juvenil team, we had won the league, but I was a nobody. Now, I’ve won a European [Championship] and I’ve been called-up to Atlético’s first team.”
When asked if he’s stopped on the street by fans, the youngster responded: “The truth is that no. People still don’t know who I am. I hope one day they do because I have done something, because I still haven’t done anything important.
“I want to gain promotion with the reserve side, but if things go well and ‘El Cholo’ feels it’s better for me to be on the first team, then I’ll be there hopefully.”
On his arrival to Atleti as a young boy
“I left my home at a very early age, without my parents or anything. I’m very happy though for the decisions I made at that time, because they are the ones helping me fulfill my dream. I was only 11 years old and didn’t know anything. Now I think about it and I say to myself: ‘What was I doing there by myself if I spent the nights crying and I didn’t know anyone?’
The family I stayed with treated me incredibly. That being said, when my parents came to visit, you can imagine, I would cry for hours until they would leave and I would ask them to stay. My parents would act strong when we’d talk on the phone, that’s normal, but I know they didn’t like it at all that I had decided to leave; but because they are my parents and they love me, they accepted what I wanted even though I was only 11 years old. In the end, look, everyone’s happy because of what I am experiencing now.”
The midfielder recalled the first time he trained with the senior Rojiblancos, shortly after Simeone had replaced Gregorio Manzano as head coach.
“It was curious because I had never trained [with the first team],” he said.
“One day, we were playing an exhibition match against the first team and, while we were playing, Cholo stopped the practice and said: ‘Óliver, get over here with us’. I was surprised and got home very happy. The next day, Carlos Aguilera called me and told me that I had been called-up to the first team against Betis. Imagine how I felt.”
When asked about how it felt to be on the bench for that official game in Sevilla, Oli said:
“I was nervous but at the same time very excited. You get to feel what it’s like to be in the dressing room with everyone. I didn’t know what to do but Cholo calmed me down and told me that if I play, to play as if I were with the Juveniles and to just enjoy it. The truth is I enjoyed it even though I didn’t play and despite the match not being a very good one for the team.”
The following clash, a critical one in our Champions League qualification fight, was at our home stadium—an encounter that Torres also suited-up for.
“To arrive at the Calderón is incredible,” he reminisced.
“The biggest reward a player can have in football is for the people to love you, and in those moments, you feel loved. What is felt on the football field is something that cannot be explained, you just have to experience it for yourself. It’s spectacular.”
The starlet elaborated on his quick rise to the top following his acclaimed performance and crucial role in Spain’s title-winning UEFA U-19 European Championship campaign, arriving to pre-season in Majadahonda as the big man on campus and even immediately featuring as a starter in some of our summer friendlies.
“Right now, I’m getting closer to some of my team-mates and I try to feel as if I were one of them, respecting our distances, of course,” he said.
“I am trying to learn the most from all of them to get to where they are. Canteranos are the ones who have approached me the most, such as Mario or Gabi, for example. But even the very Falcao pumps us youngsters up a lot, not just me.”
Óliver admitted that having Saúl and Kader around helps him to “not feel alone”.
“When I came back from the European Championship and people knew who I was I didn’t know what to do,” he said.
“I was stunned. Then came my debut, with the people yelling my name, that was another great feeling. It was incredible. I have no words. I framed the shirt from that day. It’s at my house. The other two, from the first call-ups last season, I also took home with me but I did not play with those so it excited me more to frame the one I actually sweated for the first time. It’s more special.”
Asked if Simeone has spoken to him about his future, specifically, whether or not he will remain with the senior team from the start of the upcoming campaign or simply be promoted to Atlético B, Oliver said:
“I am very happy with everything that is happening and, if these matches offer Simeone a chance to monitor me, well, that would be even better. He hasn’t told me anything, but I know this is a reward for me and I am aware of what my role is. Things like this give you the hope you need to continue working day-to-day to be able to experience this every day of your life.”
On rejecting offers to go to the Premiere League
“When I began in the Infantil A category at Atlético, it was an incredible feeling,” he said.
“My whole family wanted me to be here and to triumph at this club one day, so, I spoke to my agent and I told him that what I wanted now was a good project like the one I have been offered here.”
The teen made it clear he’d rather stay at Atleti this season as opposed to joining another Primera División outfit on loan.
“If it’s up to me, I want to stay and triumph here at Atlético, but I am an employee of the club and if they feel that I need to [go out on loan] then I will do it. Either way, those are the types of decisions that must be made by those at the top, not by me.
“It’s clear. My goal right now is to start on the first team in an oficial match.”