Fernando Torres said on Sunday that he has returned to Atletico Madrid to rekindle his competitive spirit with his boyhood club.
Torres was presented to tens of thousands of fans at the packed Vicente Calderon Stadium while waiting for his loan from AC Milan to become official when the Italian transfer market opens on Monday.
Torres, who left Atletico in 2007 for Liverpool, said "I was missing something to motivate me, something that I could only find here."
Nicknamed "The Kid," the now 30-year-old Torres hails from the Madrid suburb of Fuenlabrada, and despite his decline in form he is still wildly popular among the Atletico faithful.
After his presentation with club president Enrique Cerezo, Torres changed his somber suit for his new No. 19 shirt and soaked up applause from supporters. He autographed footballs and kicked them into the stands while making laps around the pitch.
"When I was 24 I understood something that was very hard for me, that I needed to leave so the club could grow and so I could also grow," he said.
"That was the most difficult moment of my career. The club has grown and won important things. I too got the titles I was looking for, but I was missing something. I want to win them here."
"I have been dreaming for so long that that one day this could be a reality. It is difficult to believe it now."
Torres debuted for Atletico in 2001 at the age of 17 and went on to play in 244 games and score 91 goals before going to England in 2007 to play for Liverpool and Chelsea, where he won the Champions League, Europa League and the FA Cup.
He returns to Atletico on loan from AC Milan, where he struggled with only one goal in 10 appearances since Chelsea loaned him to the Italian club.
Torres, a World Cup and European championship winner with Spain, has yet to recover his pace and scoring ability after being hit by injuries that included a right knee operation in April 2010.
He will form part of a consolidated Atletico squad that won the Spanish league title last season under coach Diego Simeone, who Torres played with at Atletico when Simeone was a midfielder. Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann have filled in well for now Chelsea striker Diego Costa, meaning Torres will likely have to improve to find a permanent spot in the starting lineup.
"(Simeone) was very important for me," Torres said. "I know him and how demanding he was as a teammate. I hope I can go out there and do what he needs me to do. I am here to do my part."
Torres’ first game could be a big one.
Atletico hosts crosstown rival Real Madrid in the first leg of their round-of-16 Copa del Rey tie on Wednesday.