Happy Birthday Fernando Torres! The striker turns 34 today.
Born in Madrid, Spain he made his progress through the youth ranks at Atletico Madrid after joining them in 1995. He starred for Spain in the 2001 European Under-16 Championship and scored the only goal in the final against France and finished as the leading goal scorer with seven goals in six games and was voted play of the tournament.
The following season Torres scored six goals in 36 matches as he established himself in the Atletico team that won promotion to La Liga. He was again voted player of the tournament the following summer at the Under 19 Championship and was again top goal scorer.
He scored 13 goals in 29 games in his first season in the top flight, but it was in the 2003/04 season when Torres became a 19-year-old superstar. He scored 19 league goals in 35 games and made his full international debut on 6th September 2003 against Portugal. He had been a key player at underachieving Atletico Madrid all his career and wanted a new challenge. Rafa Benitez and Liverpool’s new American owners showed their intent for the 2007/08 season by splashing out a club record fee of £20.2 million for the Spaniard. A lot of responsibility was placed on his shoulders during his time at Atletico, but at Liverpool he wasn’t the only one responsible for the success or lack of success. He announced himself to the Anfield public by scoring a great goal against Chelsea.
He was involved in 33 of the 38 league matches and although he didn’t make many appearances in the domestic cup games, he still found time to score a hat-trick against Reading. However, in Europe he was unstoppable and once the knock-out stages arrived he really started to make people sit up and take notice. He scored a wonderful winner at the San Siro to see off the challenge of Inter Milan and then scoring against Arsenal and Chelsea in the quarter-final and semi-final.
Although he wasn’t prolific enough in away matches, at home he was sensational and his strike against Sunderland in February 2007 started a run of eight successive him league matches in which he scored 12 times, including hat-tricks against Middlesbrough and West Ham as well as the winner in his first Merseyside Derby and on the final day of the season he scored against Tottenham which and overtook the record for the most number of league goals scored by a non-British player during his debut season in England’s top division from Ruud Van Nistelrooy. He came in second to Cristiano Ronaldo in the vote for the Football Writers’ Player of the Year and also came second when the votes were cast by his fellow professionals.
Torres once again stood out on the International stage as he travelled to the European Championships in Austria and Switzerland. He played in all five matches as his country progressed to the final in Vienna and he proved that he was the man for the big occasion by scoring a brilliant winner in the first-half. This meant he had now scored a goal at three different levels – Under-16, Under-19 and now senior. Liverpool’s number nine had a stop-start season in 2008/09 due to having a few niggling injuries and at the turn of the year the Spaniard had only five goals in 16 matches but he was determined to make up for lost time in the second half of the season and scored 11 goals in 22 matches for the Reds.
In 2009/10 Torres’s goals-per-game ration in the Premier League matches was his best yet in a Red shirt and he became the fastest Liverpool player to reach 50 league goals. However, he missed as many matches as he played in as Liverpool gained 23 less points compared to the season before. Torres felt that Liverpool weren’t matching his ambitions and in January 2011 he handed in a transfer request and on deadline day he signed for rivals Chelsea.
After three and a half years as a Chelsea player the striker agreed to move on loan to AC Milan and it was announced in December that he was going to make the move permanent in January. Two days later, Milan announced that the Spaniard had gone on loan to his boyhood club Atletico Madrid for 18 months and in July 2016 the move was made permanent.
The Spaniard played a total of 142 games for LFC, scoring 81 goals. Although he broke a lot of hearts when signing for Chelsea, he will be remembered as one of the greatest strikers to pull on a red shirt and grace the Kop.
Article By Lauren Black
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