MADRID - Chelsea striker Fernando Torres considers it a “spectacular prize” just to get back into Spain’s squad for a World Cup friendly, but has vowed to fight to secure a ticket on the plane to Brazil.
The 30-year-old, who last played for Spain almost a year ago at the Confederations Cup in Brazil, was named by coach Vicente del Bosque in the national squad for a warmup game against Bolivia on Friday.
The announcement gave a sliver of hope to the 50 million pound ($84 million) striker, who suffered an alarming slump after becoming one of the world’s most feared goalscorers at his peak.
“I am delighted to be here after almost a year since the Confederations Cup. Delighted. Keen to get started,” Torres told reporters at the squad’s Madrid training ground on Monday.
Del Bosque has put off naming the full World Cup squad until at least May 31 to check on the fitness of key players at Real and Atletico Madrid after their Champions League final clash.
Team doctors are particularly worried about Atletico’s Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa, who left the pitch after just nine minutes because of a hamstring problem.
Team doctors say Costa will have to rest for at least two weeks, taking him perilously close to the opening Group B match against the Netherlands on June 13.
But Torres knows he has only made the list for Friday’s Bolivia friendly, so far.
“I am going to take advantage of this week and enjoy it,” he said. “For Brazil, being here is a big step but not definitive.” Del Bosque brought in Torres for the friendly while omitting rivals Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo and Juventus’s Fernando Llorente.
Torres, known as “El Nino” – The Kid – said the past year had been “strange” with lots of changes at Chelsea.
“It’s been a disappointing year because we did not win anything after many years in a row of achieving titles. On a personal level, too,” Torres said.
“So it has been a spectacular prize to be able to be here and forget the clubs and focus on the World Cup. A World Cup that is around the corner. And to fight to be on the definitive list and be able to go to Brazil.” Torres said he knew anything could happen.
The forward said he was happy to hear Del Bosque praise his recent performances.
“Maybe that is what enabled me to be on the list for the Bolivia game and have a chance to be in Brazil,” Torres said.
“I knew I might be in or not. I was not expecting anything specific. I was just waiting to hear the list and hoping to hear my name.” Torres said his performance in the European Championship and Confederations Cup may have helped swing the decision his way for the Bolivia friendly.
“It is true that I have played a less than half the minutes of last season, so hopefully that could help me to be in good form physically. I feel good, very strong in my last games so we will have to see if that carries on.” Torres has played 106 games for La Roja, scoring 36 goals. Although he had a barren season with Chelsea in 2011-12, Torres made Spain’s 2012 European Championship squad where his three goals earned him the tournament’s Golden Boot award.