The Career of Fernando Torres: Celebrating a Legend of the Game
(Getty Images/Jasper Juinen)

The Career of Fernando Torres: Celebrating a Legend of the Game

On the 23rd of October 2019, Spanish striker Fernando Torres played his final career game at the age of 35.

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Fernando Torres' career has not been short of both ups and downs since breaking through at his boyhood club Atletico Madrid in 2001.

However, when the Spaniard was firing, he found himself in the conversations about the best striker in the world. 

As he crafted his trade all over the world for 18 years, 'El Nino' won almost every knockout cup there was to win, as he starred for both club and country. 

The Early Days

After being voted Europe's best 15-year-old in 1999, Torres earned himself a professional contract with his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid.

As he nailed down a starting place in 2001, his goal tally began to gradually improve throughout the seasons, as he netted 21 and 20 goals in back-to-back seasons between 2003 and 2005.

Naturally, his rise towards the top of the goal-scoring charts attracted attention, however, the now Spanish international elected to remain at 'Los Rojiblancos' for another two seasons.

International Breakthrough

Torres' big break for the national team came as he was selected to represent his country at the 2006 World Cup Finals. 

After scoring seven goals in qualifying, he started upfront for Spain throughout the tournament, getting three goals in what was ultimately a disappointing tournament for his country.

Despite the disappointment, Spain had found themselves a deadly duo up top for years to come, as David Villa joined 'El Nino' upfront, and was always full of praise for his partner.

"We complement each other very well. We get on well on the pitch, and very well of it. We're a good partnership."

Arriving at Anfield

As Fernando Torres became a global name, the striker made the long-awaited move to England and chose to join Liverpool for £20 million in 2007.

Immediately, the Spaniard hit the ground running in the Premier League, scoring on his home debut against Chelsea.

With 24 league goals throughout the campaign, Torres became the most effective foreign player in a Premier League debut season and became the first Liverpool player to score 20+ goals in 11 years. 

The nine goals Torres added in cup competitions helped the Reds to the Champions League semi-final, where they fell just short of back-to-back finals.

Despite getting off to a scoring start in 2008-09, Torres' next three seasons at Anfield were plagued with a plethora of injuries, as he never made more than 24 appearances in the league again.

However, the personal accolades began to come for 'El Nino', as he was nominated for the World Player of the Year award, eventually finishing third. As well as this, he quickly became a hero to the world-renowned Kop, and spirited performances against Manchester United in the coming years secured his place as a fan favourite.

International Glory 

Torres was again named in the national squad for the European Championships in 2008 and again worked well with David Vila as Spain searched for their first international glory.

They made their way to the final against Germany, and 'El Nino' wrote himself into the history books as he scored and was named man of the match in a 1-0 win, as Spain announced themselves as an international powerhouse for the coming years.

Despite mostly appearing from the substitute's bench in the 2010 World Cup, the era of Spanish dominance on the world's stage continued, as they became world champions following a 1-0 win against the Netherlands.

Torres began to repay the faith put in him by manager Vicente Del Bosque, and was selected for the Euro 2012 squad. As the Spain dominance continued, 'El Nino' scored in yet another final and picked up the golden boot for the tournament.

Chelsea get their man

After handing in a transfer request in January 2011, Fernando Torres finally got his move to Chelsea for a then British record fee of £50 million.

It took over 900 minutes for the World Cup winner to get his first goal for Chelsea, as he dug the ball out of the soaking Stamford Bridge turf against West Ham, much to the delight of his teammates and fans alike. 

This was a sign of the troubled times which were coming for Torres, as his next couple seasons were littered with goal droughts and mistakes, with an open goal miss at Old Trafford highlighting his horror period.

The Chelsea fans stuck with their number nine throughout his spell at the club, as he found himself in and out of the team. 

Despite all of this, 'El Nino' will always have a place in the hearts of Chelsea fans for his role in the 2011-12 Champions League triumph. 

With 10 men and backs to the wall against a dominant Barcelona side, Chelsea were holding on to go through to Champions League final for only the second time in the club's history.

With the pressure becoming almost too much to deal with, Torres latched on to a desperate clearance before rounding Victor Valdes to secure the Blues the victory in the tie, as they went on to secure the trophy on a famous night in Munich.

The Spaniard also shone in Chelsea's Europa League triumph the next year, as he found the net in the final against Benfica which finished 2-1.

As Jose Mourinho made his return to Stamford Bridge, Torres fell firmly out of favour for the Blues, as the Portuguese manager publicly stated his criticism of his striking options. 

Despite this, he had one more famous moment left in him, as he scored an injury-time winner against fellow title contenders Manchester City in 2014, sending Stamford Bridge into raptures.

The Bridge says goodbye

Whilst goals weren't always there for Torres in West London, no fan of Chelsea could doubt the man's heart and desire, as he gave his all to try and replicate the form produced in earlier seasons.

At the end of the 2013/14 season, the Spaniard joined AC Milan on loan, where he scored once before making his return back home to Atletico Madrid.

Here, he saw a partial return to goal-scoring form, finding the net 37 times in four seasons back home.

To round off his career, Torres played for Sagan Tosu in Japan, coming up against former international teammates David Villa and Andres Iniesta in the final game of an illustrious career.

Overall, Fernando Torres will be remembered as one of the greatest strikers of his generation. His electric pace and deadly finishing had defenders terrified at his peak, and the striker proved his dominance on the international stage, an arena where some of the worlds best have fallen short.

 

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