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Divided loyalties as Spaniards go clubbing

Stiker Torres believes regionalism is carrying up the team's fan base.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 11:07 IST
DPA

Fernando Torres is the bright est hope in Spanish football since Raul came on the scene. The 2006 World Cup has arrived just as he, at 22 years old, is beginning to mature, which is why he has no doubts, “I would like to return home as world champion and also hope that the team can at least once demonstrate that it belongs among the greats.”

Historically, Spain is synonymous with “Furia” (the fury, nickname for the team). At present, it is synonymous of what?

I believe that Spain is melancholic. It wants to return to being "the fury", but in these last years it has lost this a little. I believe that with the arrival of Luis Aragones this 'fury,' which always made Spain one of the favourites, has been returning little by little. I believe that it is possible to return to it without losing quality and good play. It is all psychological.

Why do think that the fans have stopped identifying themselves with the idea of a “Spanish team”?

I believe that in Spain, what is important are the clubs. Here you go to see Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia. They have the best foreign players in the world and it is these who make the La Liga so great. But we do not have these foreign players in the National team. I don't believe that the fans can separate their clubs from the National team. They cannot put to one side their local teams and see the National team as a whole as they do in Argentina, where if doesn’t matter which club the players belong to.

Is there a political background to the regionalism that prevents identification with the National team?

There are parts of Spain where the National team’s games are never watched. Perhaps, in Catalonia or the Basque Country this is the case.

Are the players representing Spain not so involved as when they play with their clubs?

No. I believe that the players are indeed involved. In my case, the National team is all that matters. Ever since I have been here, I have never seen anybody who does not want the best for the team.