Yokohama, Japan – Chelsea star Fernando Torres has revealed the inspiration behind his medal-laden career – not Pele, Diego Maradona or Johan Cruyff, but a Japanese cartoon called Captain Tsubasa.
The Spanish striker, who has a World Cup, two European Championships and a Champions League title to his name, said his love for the game owes its origins to a popular manga animation he watched as a boy.
“I remember when I was a kid, we couldn't find the signal really well on TV, but everyone in school was talking about this cartoon about football, from Japan,” he said.
“It was a series called Oliver y Benji in Spain, and in Japan it was Captain Tsubasa, and these two young players started as youth team players, got into the national team, won the World Cup, and moved to Barcelona and Bayern Munich, then moved to Europe, so it was like a dream.
“I started playing football because of this, and because my brother forced me, and I loved the cartoon,” he added in comments published on the Chelsea website.
“I wanted to be Oliver, because he played out on the field and Benji was the goalkeeper. That was the first contact I had with Japan.”
Torres's Chelsea will take on Monterrey in the semi-final of the Club World Cup in the Japanese city of Yokohama on Thursday. – Sapa-AFP