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The highs and lows of Torres' glittering career

Pin Torres scored the winning goal in the final of Euro 2008. EFE
Torres scored the winning goal in the final of Euro 2008. EFE

The highs and lows of Torres' glittering career

Tom Cunild by Tom Cunild @besoccer_es - 0 3,412

Every few years, a player comes around who defines a generation: a pacey, strong striker with unnerving finishing ability in his prime, Fernando Torres was one such player. After 'El Niño' announced his decision to hang up his boots at age 35, we take a look at the best and worst moments of his 18-year career.

Fernando Torres will go down as one of the finest strikers in modern football history. He has represented Atlético Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea, AC Milan and Sagan Tosu at club level, winning a whole host of trophies to add to his two European Championships and World Cup successes with Spain's national team. However, it has not been all plain sailing for the man from Fuenlabrada, who has also suffered from various injuries and crises in confidence during his near two-decade spell among football's elite.

High - Breakthrough at Atlético

After originally starting his youth career as a goalkeeper, a wise coach of his decided it just might be better to move Torres further up the field, and he joined Atlético's youth academy as a striker aged 11. He would go on to sign his first professional contract at his boyhood club aged just 15, before making his debut as a 17 year-old in May 2001. 

'El Niño' scored his first Atlético goal a week later in an away win against Albacete and never looked back. He went on to score 83 goals in all competitions during his first spell at Atleti, being named club captain aged 20 and earning a 28 million Euro move to Premier League side Liverpool in 2007.

High - Lightning start at Liverpool 

Torres immediately found his feet at Liverpool, scoring on his Anfield debut against Chelsea and bagging 33 goals across all competitions in a stunning debut season that quickly saw him become a fan favourite. He would follow this admirable debut season with two more impressive campaigns, forging a seemingly telepathic connection with Steven Gerrard that has led him to describe the former Liverpool captain as his "favourite teammate".

The mere sight of Torres during his first three seasons at Liverpool with his trademark blonde highlights, hairband, white ankle tape and Nike T90 boots was enough to strike fear into even the Premier League's best defenders. He struggled with injuries and form at the start of the 2010-11 season, however, before sending shockwaves through the football world as he completed a hugely controversial 58 million Euro move to Chelsea in January 2011. 

This brought about a bitter end to an otherwise near-perfect love story that saw the Spanish forward score 81 goals in 142 games for 'The Reds'.

High - Spain's world domination 

'El Niño' formed a lethal partnership with former Barcelona striker David Villa up front for Spain, and the two helped fire Spain to their first international trophy in 44 years as Torres scored the winner against Germany in the final of Euro 2008.

This would be the first of an unprecedented three straight international tournament wins for 'La Roja', as they went on to triumph in the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euros. Torres finished Euro 2012 as the Golden Boot winner with three goals and one assist, and in total scored 38 times in 110 appearances for his country.

 

Low - Chelsea goal drought and open goal miss

The Spaniard failed to hit the ground running at Chelsea, looking a shadow of the player that had dominated the Premier League at Liverpool. Torres took 903 minutes to notch his first Chelsea goal, and this would prove to be his only one in his debut season at the club. He did eventually somewhat get going, ending his career at Chelsea with 45 goals in 172 games.

Many will also remember his time at Chelsea for a rather embarrassing open goal miss against Manchester United, which made him the butt of endless jokes and memes for some time to come and no doubt did little to boost his already fragile confidence.

High - Barcelona goal and Champions League win

Although his time at Chelsea was mixed at a personal level, he did indeed add some much-needed silverware to his collection as he won the Europa League, the FA Cup and, most famously, the Champions League at the London club. His contribution to Chelsea's 2011-12 Champions League win was particularly telling, as he scored a late goal at the Nou Camp to seal his side's place in the final and send Gary Neville into a state of pure euphoria in the commentary box (sound on for below video).

Low - AC Milan loan

After falling out favour at Chelsea, Torres joined AC Milan on a two-year loan deal in the summer of 2014. However, his spell in Italy would prove to be rather brief as he struggled to make any impact whatsoever. He looked out of sorts and unhappy during what turned out to be a wasted six months in Milan, scoring just one goal in 10 appearances before returning to his boyhood club Atlético in January 2015.

Speaking to AS about the move, the World Cup winner hinted at broken promises at the 'Rossoneri', saying: "The situation was so – I went with an expectation and with an idea which, later, was not met,”

High - Fairytale Atlético return

Footballing returns can often be disappointing affairs, with the player coming back to his former club and somewhat clouding the legacy they worked so hard to build with below-par performances in the twilight of their career.

Many thought that this could be the case with Torres' return to Atleti, especially considering he was coming off the back of a fruitless spell in Italy and was out of the picture completely at Chelsea.

However, the return of the prodigal son to the Vicente Calderón was far from a failure, with the striker bagging a brace at the Santiago Bernabéu to knock bitter rivals Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey just days after rejoining 'Los Colchoneros'.

He would go on to score 121 goals in total over his two spells at Atlético, including this audacious bicycle kick against Celta below, before saying an emotional goodbye at the end of the 2017/18 season on a high as Atlético won the Europa League. This finally saw Torres win some silverware with his beloved Atleti, before he headed to Asia for his Japanese football adventure.

Tom Cunild

Tom Cunild

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