Here’s the scenario: you are playing FIFA 12; you are Chelsea. You are deciding which strike force will be the most appropriate to crucify your opponent’s back four with. There’s Drogba, there’s Sturridge, there’s Anelka (for now), and then, there’s El Nino. Liverpool paid over £20 million for him – Chelsea paid 50. Yet these days, FIFA players (much like AVB as the Chelsea manager) may opt to leave Fernando Torres waiting in the dugout. Now 27 years of age, the Spanish superstar is not displaying the lethal form he once did. However, he still remains one of the deadliest strikers in world football.
A glorious career in front of goal began at youth level in 1995 for Atletico Madrid, the first of three professional clubs Torres has played for. At the age of 14, he led an Atletico youth side to the Nike cup, proceeding to sign a professional contract with the club a year later. By 2001, Torres had played and scored for the first team. By 2004, he had scored 32 goals in 64 La Liga appearances and was named Atletico Madrid captain at the age of just 19. Torres was then selected in Spain’s Euro 2004 squad, as well as making the squad for the 2006 World Cup, where he finished Spain’s joint top scorer. The Spaniard’s talents were now on display to a global audience, with his aerial ability, speed, strength and clinical finishing reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Chelsea and Newcastle.
…capture their number one target.
In 2007, Torres did make the move across the Atlantic, but he was to become neither a Londoner nor a Geordie; in a high-profile, big money move, Anfield became Fernando’s new home as Liverpool paid a club record transfer fee to capture their number one target. It wasn’t long before he had endeared himself to the Kop and struck an unstoppable partnership with Steven Gerrard. Torres became Rafael Benitez’s golden boy, promptly breaking the record for the number of Premier League goals scored by a foreign player in his debut season. In the next three and a half years, Torres underwent a love affair with Liverpool, demonstrating his class by pumping fear into the veins of defenders across England and Europe.
International success soon followed for Torres, with Spain proving victorious in Euro 2008. It was El Nino who scored the winning goal in a 1-0 win over Germany in the final. By now, Torres had become one of the best forwards in the world, with a first touch that rendered nearby defenders obsolete. Though, a long list of injuries had perturbed an illustrious career, eventually preventing him from contributing notably to the 2010 World Cup, (but Spain won regardless). Soon after, injuries weren’t Torres’s only problem as poor form and a reluctance to adapt to a changing regime at Liverpool sparked an end to his time at the club.
…stark contrast to the sublime finish…
In January 2011, Torres moved to Chelsea for a mammoth fee of £50 million. Though, since his move, the Spaniard has only been a shadow of his former self. His current Chelsea form is best summed up by his open-goal miss at Old Trafford in September, in stark contrast to the sublime finish that helped Liverpool win 4-1 at the same stadium seasons earlier. The 2011-2012 campaign so far has brought few starts an even fewer goals. Having been sent off once and rumoured to be available for less than half of his Chelsea transfer fee in January, Torres is clearly frustrated and lacking in confidence.
Nonetheless, El Nino is still a master of his trade. Backed by his former boss, Benitez, to deliver the goods eventually and publicly described as “not for sale at any price” by Andre Villas-Boas, Torres may still have life in him yet. Whether he can regain his place in the Spanish national team remains to be seen. For now, Torres will be concentrating on taking his chance to shine for Chelsea in January, as well as supporting his wife and two kids during his time off the pitch.
Image courtesy of Nigel Wilson