TORRES: HOPING FOR BETTER

Posted on: Fri 13 Apr 2012

The last time Fernando Torres played at Wembley, his Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory.

Unfortunately for the Blues forward, the goal ensured England ran out 1-0 winners against Torres's Spain, and while Lampard and Ashley Cole left the field of play delighted at overcoming the world champions, Torres, and fellow countryman Juan Mata, were left to rue a host of missed chances, while undergoing a verbal battering on their return to Cobham.

This Sunday, rather surprisingly, Torres makes his first appearance at the iconic venue as a club player, when the Blues take on London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-final, and while he is desperate to inspire the Blues to a more positive result than he endured on his last visit, the Spaniard could barely contain his excitement at returning to the stadium so soon.

'Wembley has so much history, English teams have a couple of chances every season to play there and it's massive,' he told the official Chelsea website.

'All the players want to play in those games, it's my fifth season in England but this is the first time I'm going there. It's very exciting because we have the chance to reach the final in a London derby, so it will be very nice to be there and to play, so I'm looking forward to it.

'I'd never played against England at Wembley before that game, I'd played against them at Old Trafford, which was nice, but Wembley is so famous. All the Spanish supporters were excited and taking pictures, even the players were taking photos in training the night before.

'If you like football, you want to play at Wembley, I had the chance with Spain, but obviously they're not very good memories from that day as we lost, so hopefully on Sunday it will be better.'

As a club, our record in the competition, particularly in recent years, speaks volumes. The game on Sunday marks our fourth semi-final appearance since 2007, and on the previous three occasions we've gone on to lift the trophy, most recently in 2010.

In the modern era, the FA Cup doesn't always get the level of respect it deserves, with league aspirations, largely due to financial implications, taking priority.

Torres, though, since arriving in the country five years ago, has nothing but admiration for the esteem in which the tournament is heldon these shores, particularly given the way other European countries treat their own domestic cups.

'In Spain, the domestic cup is not as important as the FA Cup is to English teams, it's more of a minor competition,' he admitted. 'It's nice to see in England that the tradition is still there and the FA Cup is very close to the league in terms of significance.

'All the fans are very excited, the players want to play in the final and it's nice to see the importance which is given to the competition in this country. The Carling Cup is a little bit further behind, but it would be fantastic to add the FA Cup to your record.'

With both of this weekend's semi-finals taking place at Wembley, some argue that the achievement of reaching the final is somewhat diminished.

Torres, however, while sympathising with the view of the romantics, is simply delighted at having the opportunity to represent the Blues at the famous old stadium, and if he gets to do it again early next month, you certainly won't hear him complaining.

'It gives you an idea of how big the semi-finals are, I think it's going to be massive, a game with great intensity against a great team,' said Torres.

'If the semi-final is that big, obviously the final is even bigger. It will be great for the Chelsea fans and players, we have players here who have played at Wembley loads of times, but for some of us it's the first time and so it will be more special for us.'