From Spain to Japan: 9 instances when Fernando ‘El Nino’ Torres took our breaths away

By Nazmus Saquib

Flowing blonde hair with a hairband holding it altogether, an ever glowing smile & eyes as dark as midnight. At a glance, Fernando Torres looked like someone girls would define as ‘What dreams are made of’.

Indeed, he was a dreamy man. A man who realised many of his dreams, and made millions dream with him. Besides playing for his boyhood club Atletico Madrid, ‘El Nino’ also became their captain at just 19. From then on, it was a journey of only upwards & onwards. He went on to conquer the English Premier League with Liverpool, was named in the top 3 of the FIFA Ballon D’or alongside the two extraterrestrials, Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo.

Torres was one of the most influential characters of the all-conquering Spanish side of the last decade. Torres also played in Italy with AC Milan. And when his journey around Europe was over, ‘The Kid’ returned home to Atletico Madrid.

After 3 years, he’s leaving again, this time, for Japanese side Sagan Tosu. It’s only fitting that after what he’s achieved throughout his career, the curtain will close in the land of the rising sun.

Today, we look back at 9 instances when Torres, as a devastating ‘Number 9’, showed us exactly what he was made of. Instances that made us fall in love with him even more.

1. Predatory instincts, even in his teens

Fernando Torres 2002

In 2001, Torres participated in his first international tournament in the U-16 European Championships. ‘El Nino’ immediately grabbed the opportunities by both hands as he went onto score in every knockout match of the tournament, Bagging the golden boot as a result. With Torres firing on all cylinders, Spain also went onto to win the tournament that year.

2. Taking the Premier league by storm

After rejecting two bids from Chelsea, Atletico were finally compelled to sell Torres to Liverpool at 20 million euros, a then club record fee for ‘All Reds’. First season in EPL, Most expensive player of the club- nothing could faze the striker even once. Torres immediately proved his worth, scoring 24 goals in his debut season and becoming the first player since Robbie Fowler back in 95-96 to score 20+ goals in one season for Liverpool. Since then, there was a sense that the Premier League has seen a true predator arrive.

3. Consecutive hat-tricks in his first season in England

Within just 7 months of his arrival in England, Torres bagged his first EPL Player of the month award. Before that, he scored a brilliant hat-trick in front of the Anfield faithful against Middlesborough. Just 10 days later, Torres replicated his heroics against ‘Boro’, with West Ham being the victims this time. This quite brilliant feat made Torres the first liverpool player in 60 years to have scored back to back hat-tricks in home games.

4. *THAT* goal in Vienna against Germany in the Euro ‘08 Final

Spain & Germany met in Vienna in the Euro 2008 final. It was the first time in 44 years that Spain were in the final of a major tournament. In a tightly contested final, Spain were looking for a momentary brilliance from someone to unlock the stubborn German defence. And it was Torres once again. Who stepped up when his country needed him the most. Receiving a through ball from Xavi, Torres kept his cool despite the pressure from Philipp Lahm & chipped an onrushing Jens Lehmann. Torres was also named man of the match as he led his country to their first silverware in 44 years.

5. Manchester United & Real Madrid conquered within two weeks

In the 08-09 Champions League, Liverpool & Real Madrid faced off in the round of 16. Liverpool won 1-0 at the Bernabeu with the return leg resulting in a 4-0 thrashing of the Los Blancos. Torres opened the scoring on a famous European night in Anfield & was a constant threat to the Real Madrid defence. After the international break, Liverpool went to Old Trafford to face their bitter enemies Manchester United. Despite Ronaldo giving the ‘Red Devils’ the lead; Liverpool came home with huge 4-1 win, with Torres scoring one & terrorizing Nemanja Vidic the entire match in which the Serbian was sent off in the second half. In these two matches; Liverpool, thanks to their ‘Hitman’, conquered two of their greatest adversaries within a month.

6. Knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League

After beating Barcelona 1-0 in Stamford Bridge, Chelsea faced a huge task of withholding the immense pressure from the catalans in the Camp Nou. Barca drew first blood, making the tie all square. As if that weren’t bad enough, John Terry was sent off for the Blues with Andres Iniesta giving Barca the lead. Just before the half-time whistle, Ramires scored to bring Chelsea back on terms & going through to the final on away goals. With Barca pushing hard for a winner, an Ashley Cole clearance in the dying embers of the match fell to Torres who rounded off Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes and took Chelsea to the final. Chelsea went onto win their first Champions League title that season.

7. Decisive, despite not being himself

When Chelsea paid 50 million pounds to Liverpool, they thought they’d acquired services of the best striker in England. In return, they got a Torres who looked nothing like his predatory self. But that didn’t stop him from proving decisive in Chelsea’s biggest matches. Roman Abramovic’s team qualified for the 12-13 Europa League final against Benfica. With the scoreline dealdocked, Torres showed a deadly combination of pace & strength to escape from the pressing of Benfica defenders Garay & Luisao before rounding off keeper Artur to give Chelsea the lead. Even though Branislav Ivanovic scored the winner, it was Torres who was decisive once again.

8. Taking apart his city rivals in their backyard

After returning to his boyhood club Atletico Madrid, Torres started the first leg of the Copa Del Rey Round of 16 tie first leg where Atleti won 2-0. But it was the return leg in the Bernabeu where he really made his mark. Scoring in the very first minute, Torres all but killed any hopes of a Real comeback. He again scored in the start of the second half as Atletico progressed 4-2 on aggregate. Even at 31, Torres proved he’s still capable of performing at the highest level.

9. Proving his worth, even when he’s down the pecking order

Despite not being an undisputed first choice for Spain for most period of the 2010 World Cup, Torres didn’t take his foot off the gas. If anything, he only excelled in his own merry way. Spain won the Euro 2012 & Torres won the golden boot as he finished being the top scorer of the tournament. He repeated goalscoring exploits next year in the FIFA Confederations’ Cup. Spain finished as runners up but Torres won the golden boot again, scoring 5 goals in the process & once again reminding the Spanish federation exactly what he’s capable of.