Chelsea striker Fernando Torres has defended the importance of the Club World Cup, expressing his desire to win the competition.
The 28-year-old has flown out to Japan with his team-mates ahead of their first game against Monterrey on Wednesday, with Rafa Benitez’s side handed a bye in the first round and they will enter the competition at the semi-final stage.
The competition has attracted criticism in the past, often being cited as little more than FIFA PR exercise leading to its importance has being brought into question.
Nevertheless, Torres has defended the competition, arguing that both fans and players alike take it seriously and that the side want to use this as an opportunity to erase the hurt felt by the 4-1 hammering suffered at the hands of Atletico Madrid at the start of the campaign in the European Super Cup.
"How many people don't take this tournament seriously, or don't think it is like the real World Cup?," Torres told reporters.
"It is for the clubs. You ask the South American people. David Luiz showed me a video of Corinthians fans at the airport, it was full of fans cheering the team and travelling to Japan to support, so it is important.
"In Europe maybe we don't give it as much attention, and to some people it might not mean much, but to me it does, so this is not a holiday or a break, this is a World Cup.
"It's nice to be involved, and maybe to be able to say you are a world champion. The European Super Cup was just as important to us and we lost, so we don't want that disappointment."
The Spain international also revealed the significant role that a Japanese cartoon played in leading him to become a footballer as a child, hailing it as an influence on him early on.
He added: "I remember when I was a kid, we couldn't find the signal really well on TV, but everyone in school was talking about this cartoon about football, from Japan.
"It was a series called Oliver y Benji in Spain, and in Japan it was Captain Tsubasa, and these two young players started as youth team players, got into the national team, won the World Cup, and moved to Barcelona and Bayern Munich, then moved to Europe, so it was like a dream.
"I started playing football because of this, and because my brother forced me, and I loved the cartoon. I wanted to be Oliver, because he played out on the field and Benji was the goalkeeper. That was the first contact I had with Japan."