When his name is sung at the Emirates, supporters tend to shave a few inches off Lucas Torreira’s height but thankfully, the diminutive Uruguayan isn’t too fussed. He’s already proved this campaign that when it comes to being combative on the field of play, how tall you are doesn’t matter nearly as much as how much desire you have.
From the moment he signed from Sampdoria for £26.5 million last summer, the midfielder’s bite has made him a fan favourite. Now, at the end of a long debut season that has seen him rack up an impressive 49 appearances, he’s eager to finish on a high, by winning the Europa League.
“This season has been all very new, with a new coach as the previous one left after 22 years. That’s never easy,” he told the Mirror on the eve of the final in Baku.
“But it has been a very good season and, if we win the Europa League, it will be a chance to play in the Champions League next season and compete with the best teams.”
Tonight’s final will be the biggest of Torreira’s fledgeling career so far. He left Uruguay as a teenager to try his luck in Italy’s Serie B and following a move from Pescara to Sampdoria found himself attracting the attention of Europe’s big boys inside a few years.
A solid work ethic – something the Arsenal coaching staff have picked up on – has helped him stand out.
“I like to fight for my dreams, I work very hard and I invest an incredible amount of time into doing what I love,” he said.
“I don’t think height is something that impedes players from being good footballers. Think about Leo Messi, for example. He’s one of the greatest players in history and I don’t think he’s very tall.
“When you’re on the field, the most important thing is your movement, your confidence and your desire to achieve big things.”
Having not had a chance to return home during the season, Lucas will be relishing the chance to visit Frey Bentos this summer. Especially as the locals are now wearing Arsenal shirts in his honour.
“You see kids, not just in my hometown of Fray Bentos, but all across Uruguay with Arsenal tops on now.
“At the moment, I am the only player from Uruguay left in the Europa League or Champions League, so I’m well aware that I’m going to have the whole country following the final and I’m really proud to be able to represent them.”
Here’s hoping they, like us, have something to cheer later.