The reason why Fernando Torres decided to play in Japan. (2ページ目)

  • text by Yoichi Igawa
  • photo by Kenzaburo Matsuoka

"It was a completely different lifestyle from what I had experienced before," he said. "If you compare life in Europe and Japan, it is totally different - culture, custom, the way of thinking etc. For example, I was very surprised to see elementary school kids go to school by themselves. My children made a lot of friends in Japan and learned important values here, which I think they will keep in their minds.

"We've also discovered many things in this country. I traveled with my family to Miyajima, Takachiho, Fukuoka and so on, and found many beautiful places. It was nice to visit serene temples and be tranquil, something which is difficult to do in big cities. Our days in Japan were very positive. That's why I want to keep my contacts here and come back as much as possible."

Torres' idol in his youth was famously Tsubasa Ozora of Captain Tsubasa (called Oliver in the Spanish version of the animation, Oliver y Benji). Was the popular Japanese show another reason he came to Japan? Actually, it was even more fundamental than that for the World Cup winner.

"It was not the reason for coming to Japan," Torres said, "it was the reason I started playing football. When I was five or six years old, I played football on the streets, almost no television channels showed football matches. And very young children didn't have many chances to go to the stadium either. Then came Oliver.

"We were watching it so passionately every time. The story goes that one guy moves to another place where he makes friends, gets used to his new surroundings, and kicks the ball everyday. Oliver faces many obstacles and overcomes them all, becoming a professional footballer, being selected for the national team, and playing at big tournaments. The story gave me a dream to become a professional footballer, and taught me what it is like. In other words, it gave me hope. I loved that cartoon."

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