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Torres, Fernando

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by Andrew Morris & Dave Usher

Date of Birth - 20/03/84
Nationality - Spanish
Position - Striker
Games - 142
Goals - 81
Club Hons (Lpool) - None
Club Hons (Other) - None
Intnl Hons - Spanish Caps
Other Clubs - Atletico Madrid, Chelsea

Fernando Jose Torres Sanz was born on 20th March 1984 in Fuenlabrada, a large suburban town south of Madrid. Despite this being a traditionally Real Madrid region Torres began his professional football career at close rivals Atletico Madrid.

It was obvious from an early age that Torres was a gifted striker when at the age of ten he scored 55 goals for his first eleven-a-side team Rayo 13, subsequently winning himself a trial with Atletico Madrid. Atletico liked what they saw and he joined them in 1995.

The subsequent four years saw Torres move rapidly through the youth ranks culminating in his first important youth title in 1998 in which an under-15 Atletico won the Nike Cup Europe, competing against youth teams from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Manchester United and Juventus. He was later voted as the best player in Europe for that age-group.

In 1999 he signed his first professional contract with Atletico but bad luck was to strike in 2000 when the young forward broke his leg, not returning to action until December of that year. The first two years of his career with Atletico where fairly unspectacular, netting just 7 goals in 40 games in the Segundo league. After promotion to La Liga in 2002, Torres truly began to flourish.

2002 saw him add the Uefa European under-19 title to the under 16 title he won in 2001. He went on to score 13 goals in 29 games, an outstanding haul for an 18 year old in one of the Europe’s toughest leagues. The following season he was named captain after an impressive season in which he bagged 19 goals. The continuing inability of Atletico to offer him European football through the subsequent seasons finally proved to be the turning point in his career.

At the end of the 2006-07 season Torres was again the subject of much transfer speculation, with all of Europe’s elite seemingly linked with him. The self confessed Liverpool fan however, only had eyes for Anfield. Despite the £26 million fee banded around by the some of the less educated British press, Torres’s real cost was just under £20 million whilst taking a pay cut to join the 5 times European champions.

On August 11th 2007 Torres made his competitive debut at Aston Villa in a 2-1 win. His first Premier League goal came 8 days later against Chelsea at Anfield. It was a pure striker’s goal, an intelligent run, exquisite control followed by a turn of pace which left the Chelsea defence in its wake before a slide rule finish into the far corner.

The sign of things to come? You better believe it. In the years that followed, Torres would prove himself to be arguably the best frontman in World Football. He formed an almost telepathic understanding with Steven Gerrard, and the duo terrorised defences both domestically and in Europe. This was never more in evidence than during a 4-1 win at Old Trafford, in which Gerrard and (especially) Torres absolutely destroyed Nemanja Vidic who was eventually sent off to end his misery.

Torres was the leading light for his country too, as they lifted the European Championship crown in 2008, with the reds' frontman scoring the winning goal in the final against Germany. He was also part of the Spanish squad that lifted the World Cup in 2010, but he'd been reduced to a bit part player due to a troublesome knee injury that had plagued him during the second half of the 2009-10 season.

Speculation on Torres' future went into overdrive during the summer of 2010. The club was stagnating under the ownership of Gillett & Hicks and the likelihood of trophies was deminishing by the day. Torres had been upset about the departure of Xabi Alonso 12 months earlier and seeing Javier Mascherano and Yossi Benayoun also pack their bags and leave did little to persuade him he should stay.

After numerous meetings with club officials, Torres agreed to give it another season but it was clear from his performances his heart was no longer in it. Some of his displays were nothing short of disgraceful. There were some flashes, most notably against Chelsea at Anfield when he scored both in a 2-0 win, but generally he appeared disinterested. Roy Hodgson's sacking coupled with the appointment of Kenny Dalglish gave renewed hope that Torres may recapture his form and interest, but when Chelsea in with a bid towards the end of the January transfer window, 'Liverpool's number nine' made it clear he wanted out and he was sold for the princely sum of £50m, which was immediately used to replace him with Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

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