Exclusive interview: Crawley Town’s Argentinian star Sergio Torres
Sergio Torres is an Argentinian footballer who currently plays for League One side Crawley Town. His former clubs include Wycombe Wanderers, Peterborough United and Lincoln City.
The midfielder’s never-say-die attitude has helped the West Sussex side secure back-to-back promotions in successive seasons, as well as causing many upsets in cup competitions against higher-ranked teams such as Derby County, Bristol City and Hull City.
Torres (pictured) played in Crawley’s fairytale 2011 fixture against Manchester United, where they narrowly lost 1-0 to the team they share their Red Devils nickname with.
The midfielder did make sure he didn’t leave empty handed by taking a part of Old Trafford home with him... literally.
Total Football’s Glen Walter spoke to Sergio Torres to find out more.
Is it true that you took some of the grass from the pitch at Old Trafford after your FA Cup fifth round tie with Manchester United a few seasons ago?
Yes, I’ve become quite famous for that. I don’t know what I was thinking, it’s not something I had thought about before. As I was walking off the pitch I thought to myself ‘I’ll never be here again so I must take some grass,’ and as I bent down and got the grass I remember thinking ‘I’m going to frame this when I get home.' I’ve still got it here but it’s getting a bit dry now!
Crawley have had so much success with back-to-back promotions and a great start to life in League One - it must be difficult to not get too carried away with it all?
Yes, because we’ve had such a good few years in the League and in the cup. Being in League One is such an achievement for the club and for myself as well. It’s amazing to be promoted two seasons in a row, back-to-back. I’m so happy to be playing in League One. We have started the season really well and everybody is happy around the club.
Realistically, what can Crawley achieve this season?
I personally think we can finish around mid-table or in the play-offs. If we can make the play-offs that would be an amazing achievement for the club. In the league we’re fourth in the table and we’ve won three games and lost just one. We lost to Swindon but that was the hardest game and they’re a good team, they’re going to be up there. We all like to work with the new manager, he likes to play football the right way.
Of course we know we’re not going to win every game, so we have to be prepared for when we start losing a few. The manager says good teams don’t lose two games in a row, so it was good that after we lost against Swindon we bounced back straightaway and beat Doncaster away.
In your opinion, who is the best player in the world at the moment?
Messi. I enjoy watching Barcelona and the amount of goals he scored last season was unbelievable! I’ve never seen so many goals and assists as well, he makes so many assists. I’m a big fan of Iniesta as well. It’s close between Messi and Iniesta. I’ll go for Messi because he’s Argentinian.
Would you say he’s the best player ever?
I’m not sure. Maradona is up there for me. I was really young but I still remember watching his games and he was unbelievable. In Argentina it is like he is God to us. So I would say Maradona but Messi is very, very close.
So, who is the best player you’ve played against?
I would say Rooney but he wasn’t very good when he came on against us when we played Manchester United. The best player I’ve played against would be Didier Drogba. When I was at Wycombe, we played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the semi-final of the Carling Cup and Chelsea played with all their stars when Mourinho was their manager. Lampard, Ballack and everyone played, and I thought Drogba was a different class that day.
Being a footballer is most young kids’ dream. Is it really glamorous or can it sometimes be a challenging lifestyle?
No, in the Premier League when you are earning thousands of pounds a week, you can allow yourself to do glamorous things but in the lower leagues it’s nothing like that.
It’s just like another job but I absolutely love it. My dream since I was young was just to play football. I’m just so happy and every day I wake up and think, I’m so lucky to be doing something that I love and so many people want to do what I am fortunate enough to do.
My life is just a normal life. I have a wife and a baby and after I play matches, I can’t wait to get home and see them.
We often just chill out at home and every now and then we go for dinner. We live in Brighton so we like to go for walks by the seaside and to the park with the baby. It’s just a normal life.
How is football in Argentina different to football in England, and what attracted you to move so far away from home?
I was 22 when I came over and in Argentina if you’re 20 or 21 and you’re not playing for any first team in the top division, it’s really hard to reach the top level.
In Europe I knew it was very different and you can become a professional when you get older and I also wanted to see the world, so it was a great opportunity for me to do that.
When you’re young you don’t really think ‘I don’t speak the language, I’m going to struggle, I’m going to miss my family and friends’, I just thought ‘yeah, I’ll give it a try, why not?’
When I got here, I just loved the way English people played the game and that everyone gives 100 per cent.
When I got here I realised I had to work a lot harder to get into a team because I went to a few clubs, who said I was good but I was not strong or quick enough.
That’s the difference, the game is a lot quicker here and in Argentina, it is more technical and you have a lot more time on the ball.
If you weren't a footballer, what other job would you like to do?
I’ve always loved sport so it would be nice to stay in sport. I was training to become a PE teacher but I left that after two years when I came to England.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m starting a Sport Science course through Manchester University, so when I retire I can hopefully stay involved with football. I’m really interested in the fitness side of football, so maybe something to do with that.
You’ve written a book about some of your experiences as a lower league footballer, how did that come about?
Yes, with the help of an Argentinian journalist. It was his idea because he interviewed me for an Argentinian newspaper and it was the second most read story of the week, after the death of the President, so he said people must like my story and I should write a book.
First of all I said no because people don’t know me in Argentina like people know Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard over here. He said I had nothing to lose and that he would help me write it if I just wrote down all my experiences.
What can we expect from the book and who is it aimed at?
I think it might be quite interesting for football fans to read because it’s nice to read about how Gerrard or Lampard lived their dream, but I’ve also lived my dream in the lower leagues and I’ve had to work really hard and go through a lot of difficult things to achieve what I wanted to achieve.
It might be especially good for a young person to read, who wants to become a professional footballer or a professional in other sports, because they may think it’s not going to happen for them but they can read how I was in a similar position and it eventually worked out for me, through persistence and hard work. Hopefully it might motivate kids to keep trying.
When will we be able to buy a copy of the book?
We’ve finished it now and hopefully at the end of next month it’s coming out in Argentina. I’m now looking for a publisher and translator here in England so it can be released here as well. I’m really hoping it might be ready for Christmas, before the end of the year.
If you had a fantasy football team this season, which player do you think is a must-have?
Carlos Tevez. I knew it from the beginning of the season. He was looking so sharp. I know his quality because I am a big Boca Juniors fan and I’ve followed him a lot and know what he’s capable of. If he’s happy in England now and he has his family here, I think he’s going to have a great time this year.
What do people in Argentina think of all the Tevez controversy in recent times?
People know it has been difficult with his family so far away, so it’s good now if he’s happy off the pitch. Back home people absolutely love him. They know he will always give you 100 per cent.
Everytime he puts the national team shirt on he gives you absolutely everything and people appreciate that.
You are currently injured so have missed some action at the start of the season. When can we expect you back?
I got a dead leg about 10 days ago, so at the moment I’m injured but hopefully I’ll be fit for the Portsmouth game on Sunday.
That will be a big game, especially because it’s on Sky Sports.
Yes, of course, everyone wants to play when the game is on television but I just want to get my leg better first and see how it goes. Everyone has been playing so well, so it will be hard to get back in the team again.
By Glen Walter - Follow me on Twitter @GlenWalter27
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