Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Villarreal defender Pau Torres opens up about marking Cristiano Ronaldo and idolizing Virgil van Dijk

When Pau Torres slammed his penalty against David de Gea in the Europa League final last May, it could have been his last kick for Villarreal. There was interest from a host of Premier League clubs and an offer from Tottenham on the table.

He stayed because he is the first top-tier player to come out of the small town on the east coast of Spain and no amount of money would keep him from playing for them in the Champions League.

“It was a dream come true to play in this competition with the team of my childhood,” he says before Manchester United’s visit on Tuesday night.

Pau Torres (above) is the first top-level player to leave the small town of Villarreal

Pau Torres (above) is the first top-level player to leave the small town of Villarreal

No amount of money was going to deprive him of playing for them in the Champions League.

No amount of money was going to deprive him of playing for them in the Champions League.

No amount of money was going to deprive him of playing for them in the Champions League.

Whatever happens on Tuesday night, he will be the first player at home after the game. He is not just one of a small group of Villarreal players with a medal, he really is the most famous son in the city and while the rest of the squad lives in nearby cities or coastal towns, he has stayed, even buying a property there. .

He set a trend when he turned down the start because coach Unai Emery stayed too, even though Saudi Arabian money was ready to lure him to Newcastle on the day of Villarreal’s final group match against Young Boys.

“We were all together on the morning of the game and the story came out,” Torres recalls. You always talk about these rumors with your colleagues and this one affected us directly. The coach made it very clear to us that the game was the only thing that mattered that night. We are delighted that he stayed – he is our leader. ‘

That decision to reject Tottenham last summer and the subsequent Champions League draw saw Torres with a double header against Cristiano Ronaldo.

He is just one of a small group of Villarreal players with a medal after the Europa League victory.

He is just one of a small group of Villarreal players with a medal after the Europa League victory.

He is just one of a small group of Villarreal players with a medal after the Europa League victory.

The Spain defender is Villarreal's most famous son and rejected Tottenham's summer advances

The Spain defender is Villarreal's most famous son and rejected Tottenham's summer advances

The Spain defender is Villarreal’s most famous son and rejected Tottenham’s summer advances

Last month at Old Trafford was the first time he faced him. He doesn’t accept the idea that, at 36, Ronaldo is now just a goal poacher.

“It is true that he had a chance and saved it, but while people tend to notice it only when he scores, he spends the entire game making moves to get away from defenders.

When you move so much, it is normal that at some point your companions find you. He’s there the full 90 minutes trying to help his team.

‘He gets into positions to receive the ball, tries to open passing lanes, tries to escape the markers to be ready for the crosses. He is always looking to run behind you or get in front of you.

He has faced Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese scored a spectacular winning goal against Villarreal in September.

He has faced Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese scored a spectacular winning goal against Villarreal in September.

He has faced Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese scored a spectacular winning goal against Villarreal in September.

“The fact that he always seems to deliver, a lot of that is down to his sheer persistence.”

Torres was talking to Sportsmail before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked, but highlighted the ‘individualities’ of the rival in the first leg, sometimes above what they knew how to do as a team.

‘I don’t see them training so I don’t know what idea they have, but maybe with a little more tactical order …’ he said. “It is true that in the first semester his press broke quite a bit. They have great players to get positive results from now on ”.

Spanish international Torres, who played in both of his qualifiers when they reached next year’s World Cup last week, wants to test himself against the best. And also study the best.

Torres played in both of Spain's qualifiers, as they made it to next year's World Cup last week.

Torres played in both of Spain's qualifiers, as they made it to next year's World Cup last week.

Torres played in both of Spain’s qualifiers, as they made it to next year’s World Cup last week.

Torres, 24, wants to test himself with the best, but he also studies the best

Torres, 24, wants to test himself with the best, but he also studies the best

Torres, 24, wants to test himself with the best, but he also studies the best

His role model is Virgil van Djik of Liverpool and he has no doubts where he rates him.

‘He is the best center-back in the world at the moment. Due to his physical condition, it does not matter if the opponent is fast, he can still give him room to run and know that he is going to arrive.

You have to look at the best and see how they deal with certain defensive situations. It is interesting to see that he manages to be outnumbered, because it is a team that plays with many people at the top of the field and has many meters behind it. Seeing how it positions itself against these counterattacks is a real education ”.

Van Djik’s Liverpool is another of the clubs that follow Torres, will he move to the Premier League once he has tasted the maximum European competition with Villarreal?

“I still have years left on my contract (it ends in 2024),” he says. ‘I made a decision thinking about what is best for me right now. I really wanted to play this competition with this club because you don’t know when the opportunity will appear again. Now let’s see how far we can go. ‘

His role model is Virgil van Djik of Liverpool and he has no doubts about where he rates him.

His role model is Virgil van Djik of Liverpool and he has no doubts about where he rates him.

His role model is Virgil van Djik of Liverpool and he has no doubts about where he rates him.

At Old Trafford he traded shirts with De Gea; He could have done it after last season’s finale, but he wanted his own jersey to recall such a historic night, and De Gea was probably in no mood to change after his penalty was saved. Villarreal victory.

“I have a good relationship with David and I never would have imagined throwing a penalty against him.”

Torres was the last outfield player to shoot a penalty after the previous 19 players scored on the dramatic penalty shoot-out.

“It’s a situation that doesn’t happen often, where the whole team shoots a penalty.

At Old Trafford he exchanged shirts with David de Gea, with whom he maintains a good friendship

At Old Trafford he exchanged shirts with David de Gea, with whom he maintains a good friendship

At Old Trafford he exchanged shirts with David de Gea, with whom he maintains a good friendship

‘At first you think that with those first five it is going to be done and then you see that nobody fails, the sixth comes, the seventh, we looked at each other, those who are not habitual penalty shooters, and we thought: Oh man, it could come to us !

“ He was clear about one thing: he could not fail. I’m the only one in town and there were a lot of people at the booth that I knew. When he came in, a weight was lifted from me.

He brings it home when he says that. “As much as the club grows, this is still a city with 50,000 inhabitants,” he says proudly. “It is not normal for such a small place to have a club that is doing so well.”

Torres was the last outfield player to shoot a penalty in last season's Europa League final.

Torres was the last outfield player to shoot a penalty in last season's Europa League final.

Torres was the last outfield player to shoot a penalty in last season’s Europa League final.

.