Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres in action during a La Liga match. Photo: REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

MADRID - Fernando Torres believes the Spanish La Liga is some 15 years behind the English Premier League in terms of its standing and popularity around the world.

But the Atletico Madrid striker who has spent a significant part of his career playing in England says his home league is fast catching up.

“I think La Liga is, I don’t know, maybe 10 or 15 years back. But the Premier League is established, they know how to expose the brand.

"Everybody around the world knows the Premier League because they did a great work,” Torres said this week at Atletico’s training ground.

But La Liga are making a concerted effort to get to the same level as their English counterparts. And the striker who was won just about every title there is except a league trophy is confident they will succeed in changing the perception they are nothing more than a two-team league.

“La Liga is starting to do the same (market themselves), I think we have two of the most popular teams in the world and we have some of the best players in the world.

"(But) it will take time (to catch up with the EPL) because it is not easy, but I am sure in a few years (we will be there).

“Right now everyone knows Barcelona, Madrid and Atletico and everybody knows Messi and Ronaldo - the big players and the big teams. Now we have to work hard and tell the people that La Liga is much more than that.

"(We must tell them) that we have many teams to support and we are going to Africa and the Americas (through La Liga partnership projects in those areas) to try and make the league known out there.”

Torres got to realise just how big a league the English Premier League is when he was in South Africa for the Confederation Cup in 2009 and the Fifa World Cup that he won with Spain the year after.

“When I got into South Africa (for the Confed and World Cup) I saw only Liverpool shirts all around and I realised, 'wow Liverpool is a huge club all around the world, the Premier League is so big'. So I was grateful to be able to live that, to play for a club that was huge and the support of the people was because I was in Liverpool.

"It was amazing when I stepped on to the pitch it was great.”

The Star

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