'I just had an aeroplane ticket and a lot of hope'

First published in Sport by

SERGIO Torres will prepare for tomorrow's promotion six-pointer against Chesterfield in the same way that he prepares for every game - with a long distance phone call to his parents in Argentina.

He will tell his dad that, in his opinion, the sixth-placed Spireites are the best team Wanderers have faced this season and tell him that he and Wycombe will have to be at their best to beat them.

After the match, he will pick up the telephone again to disect the match with his dad, 7,000 miles away in Mar Del Plata, the city Torres left behind four-years ago to carve out a career in England.

Not that the Wycombe midfielder hasn't thought about going back.

Just 13 months ago he was feeling so low that he was ready to return to Argentina.

The reason - he was suffering with a tendon injury and couldn't play football.

His dad and his mum, who had originally begged him not to come to England, persuaded him to tough it out.

Torres said: "I couldn't see the positives any more but my family came over in December and they really helped me.

"I'd had four or five months in the physio room and didn't seem to be getting anywhere. I was thinking about leaving and going home because I was so down but my family really helped me and talked me round."

Family is hugely important to Torres. His sister Rosana is getting married in June and Sergio is buying her wedding dress.

He said: "I had to tell her not to get married in May just in case we were in the play-offs.

"It would be the best feeling in the world to go back for the wedding having won promotion."

It was a massive wrench for him to leave his family behind four years ago to take up the offer of a trial with Brighton.

He said: "When Carlo Tevez moved over here he came with his whole family. But I wasn't able to do that, I had to come on my own.

"I just had an aeroplane ticket and a lot of hope, I didn't know much English. I could say, hello my name is Sergio and I'm from Argentina, I knew the numbers and the colours but it was very hard to understand people and I didn't know what the people at Brighton were talking about."

Brighton sent him packing and Torres can see why.

He said: "When I was on trial at Brighton I only played when I had the ball at my feet. I never tackled and didn't work hard.

"Mark McGhee manager told me I wasn't strong or fit enough for English football and that motivated me. It gave me more encouragement and I thought maybe you're right now but I will get myself fit enough and strong enough.

"I have changed my game now and I'd love to get promoted so that we can play Brighton next year. I know he's not the manager any more and it's not that I want to prove Brighton wrong because they probably weren't at the time."

Much to his mother's dismay he stayed in England, got a job working in Boots and signed for non-league Basingstoke.

He said: "I thought Basingstoke was my level and I was really happy playing for them and working in Boots."

But a stunning performance against Wycombe in a pre-season friendly persuaded Wycombe boss John Gorman to sign him.

But even then the transformation to a professional wasn't easy.

He said: "I didn't have much money, when I was at Basingtoke I cycled to my job at Boots.

"But when I moved to Wycombe, John Gorman wouldn't let me cycle to training because he said I'd be too tired. I had to catch two buses from my house in Totteridge. It used to take me ages. It took me three years for me to get enough money to get my Renault Megane and it's much better now."

And life is much better for Torres now. He has been one of the mainstays of Blues side this season featuring in every league game and he's hoping Wanderers will offer him a new contract when his current deal expires in the summer.

He said: "I thank God that I stayed here. Playing against Chelsea last year was the best day of my life. I was interviewed in the big national sports paper Ole in Argentina and when I go home to Mar del Plata the local paper always does an interview with me about my time at WWFC.

"I'm very proud of myself for what I've achieved and I'm proud because I have made my family proud of me.

"I love it in England, I love the football and Wycombe Wanderers but I hate the weather. We have a lovely beach in Mar Del Plata and my parents ring me from there and all I've seen here for two weeks is rain and more rain."

Now Torres, who was born in 1981 - the year Argentinians Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricky Villa were winning the FA Cup for Spurs - is looking to extend his career in England.

His Wanderers contract expires in the summer and Torres is hoping it will be extended.

He said: "The club have looked after me and the fans really seem to like me and when they sing my name it is the most beautiful feeling.

"I'm not thinking about playing for another club because I am so happy here. I am ambitious like every other player but I haven't heard of anyone being interested in me."

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