Fernando Torres has admitted that winning a first European Cup has made up for the toils he has endured since swapping Liverpool for Chelsea for a British record fee of £50m, though the striker tempered that sense of relief by stressing he will not be satisfied with a bit-part role in the side next season.
The forward, who will travel to Ibiza on holiday on Monday before the announcement of Spain's squad for Euro 2012, has added FA Cup and Champions League winners' medals to the World Cup and European championship versions he has claimed with his national team. Yet Torres has played second fiddle to Didier Drogba in Chelsea's two finals this term, coming on after 84 minutes against Bayern Munich having been an unused substitute against his former club, Liverpool, at Wembley earlier this month.
The 28-year-old was ecstatic in victory yet conceded his omission from the starting lineup at the Allianz Arena was "the biggest disappointment" of his life, with the striker further irked at not being asked to take a penalty in the shootout even if the triumph secured by Drogba's spot‑kick offered considerable consolation. "In the end I was able to play a bit and help the team but there was huge disappointment when I saw the starting lineup, maybe the biggest disappointment of my life," Torres said. "This season I felt things I had never felt [before]. I felt they have treated me in a way I was not expecting; not in the manner for which the club brought me here.
"We have had many conversations and, now the season has finished, we will have more talks to see what happens because this is not the role for which I came. I'm not happy. All this makes up for it, of course, but as far the future is concerned, well, football has been fair to me. Right now I do feel it's all worth it but the truth is I've gone through some very bad moments.
"The worst moments of my career have come during this season and I am not willing to relive those moments. There have been ups and downs, and moments where I've felt lost and didn't know what to do or where to be. I want to thank my family, the club's owner, who's always supported me and backed me, and, above all, the fans. If it wasn't for the fans many times this season I would have thrown in the towel."
This was Torres's first full campaign at the club and, while he showed flashes of his pedigree – a hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers catching the eye, together with his stunning late goal at Camp Nou in the Champions League semi-final – it had become clear long before the season's finale that he was very much an alternative, rather than partner, to Drogba.
The Ivorian has now managed nine goals in nine cup finals as a Chelsea player and, in the system preferred by Roberto Di Matteo, his selection was always likely to leave Torres initially on the bench.
It remains to be seen whether Drogba will be retained at Stamford Bridge beyond the expiry of his contract next month, though Chelsea's policy – either in the transfer market or in contract negotiations – will now have implications for Torres. The European club champions have already been linked with Radamel Falcao of Atlético Madrid, Hulk of Porto and Napoli's Edinson Cavani, meaning it would arguably take a change of formation to accommodate Torres in a first-choice lineup. Realisation of as much will prompt him to seek assurances.
"The ideal for me for next season is if someone tells me what's going to happen," Torres said. "What role will I have in the team? What function? What is expected of me? And then I have to evaluate if it is worth it. You will see me in London celebrating with everyone and then on Monday in Ibiza. I'm waiting for the announcement of the Spain squad hoping I will be in it feeling better than ever and with greater desire than ever.
"I came to this club to win the Champions League. I've now won the Euros, the World Cup and the Champions League. Right now I have next season a very important game for me emotionally, the European Super Cup against Atlético Madrid and I am already counting the days for it to arrive. But to have won this makes us all so happy. For the players, the people and because this club had the ambition to win this trophy and finally did it."