One-on-One with Gerardo Torrado: On El Tri, NASL and the path to Europe
FFT: You're 38 and have been playing for 20 seasons. How long would you like to continue to play, and what will follow when you're done?
GT: I'm done. My contract, it's finished in November, and I have decided that I'm not going to play anymore. I will be retiring after the last game I play [this season] with the Indy Eleven.
I'm going to work with the [Mexican] national team as, well, it's kind of a sports manager, being close to the senior team and working some stuff with the youth national teams. I'm excited about it. I just want to enjoy being focused on what's left of my soccer career and trying to give my best soccer to the Indy Eleven team.
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FFT: When you look back on your career — your time in Mexico, especially with Cruz Azul; your years in Spain; 146 caps and three World Cups with El Tri — are you at all surprised by all that you've been able to accomplish? How do you put it into perspective?
GT: Actually, I'm not surprised by all the things I have achieved, because when you work hard day by day and know that you are working to achieve the goals that you always wanted to achieve, you're not surprised about it.
It took me a lot of work. Probably I'm not the best-skilled player in the world — in Mexico, either — but I have that mindset of never giving up and of always trying to do something else that will [help me] become the better player and the better person. During this 20 years of my career, just trying to improve as much as I can in my weaknesses, trying to strengthen my strengths in some way, and trying to help as much I can the team I am playing for.
FFT: Looking back over those 20 years, what stands out for you? What memories do you most cherish?
GT: There are a lot of them. Becoming a professional soccer player was, like, a really big goal to reach, because that's how the dream started. Being a kid just realizing that to start the career and all the dreams that I wanted to accomplish, they were starting to become true. That was a great day and a great goal to reach.
Also, the same for the national team. The first time [in 1999], it was crazy, how fast everything was going, because I wasn't a starter with Pumas in Mexico, and now I have the opportunity to play for my team without being a starter. So it was a crazy idea of the coach [Manuel Lapuente], and I have a huge responsibility on me, knowing that he was betting hard on me. I knew I had to play well, so I could continue to be called for the national team and continue my dream. Those things are important.
The goal I scored in the World Cup [to beat Ecuador, 2-1, in 2002], I mean that was a dream come true. All the feelings that just shooting a ball can create. It was crazy. That was one of the biggest moments I ever live in my life.
There are tough decisions I've had to make. One of them was not going to my sister's wedding. That was a tough position, but I understood that I wanted so bad to improve and to become someone in the Spanish league, that if I didn't play that game — that they were going to watch me, the [Sevilla] sports manager — I never would reach that goal to play in the first division in Spain.
There are a lot of things that made me become a better person, to understand that life is about taking decisions. And sometimes you can think that they're bad decisions, for years after. Then you turn back and see what decisions you made, and it doesn't look that bad. Probably it was a great decision.
It's just a great experience to be a soccer player. I could tell you a lot of things, but those are important.
FFT: When you were 20, that you left Pumas to go to Spain. First with Tenerife in the Canary Islands and then Polo Ejido, also in the second division, and then Sevilla and Racing Santander in La Liga. What was most valuable about playing in Spain?
GT: I had a really good advantage in that I was speaking the same language. Communication with other people wasn't an issue for me, so that helped me a lot. Then the culture is similar — most of the things are similar — and you understood where you were living and you got used to it.
It was tough at the beginning, because it was the first time I was leaving home and I was living by myself and understanding the responsibilities off the field, but that's how people grow and that's how people start living their life and making their own ... movies, you can say it that way.
In the sports way, I just feel that the speed that [the game is] played in Spain is crazy. It's much different than in Mexico, and that made me a better and faster-thinking player, to [make decisions] in a shorter amount of time.