The Madrid boy set the footballing world on fire in his younger years with the Rojiblancos, since then, his career, whilst fantastic, hasn’t quite gone as far as many thought it would, but, a move back home has given him new life. A teenage prodigy, Torres set the La Liga on fire from 2001-2007 for Atletico, becoming their youngest ever captain. His red-hot form promptly secured him a big time move to Liverpool, but once that relationship broke down, he went to Chelsea and saw his career fade away. Back at Atletico, by way of AC Milan, he isn’t looking back.
Amassing a total of 214 appearances for Ateltico between 2001-2007, Torres was the hottest young property in world football, fast, skilled and an incredible sense for goals, he was Spain’s great hope to succeed the legendary Raul. His skill and his promise soon became too hard to ignore and he made his debut for the Spanish national team in in 2003, winning 110 caps in an eleven year international career that ended in 2014, he scored 38 goals. His impact, amongst the golden generation of Spanish football will see him remembered as hero. He was a part of both national teams that won the Euro 2008 competition and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
However, his club career has seen its ups and downs. Torres then became a highly sought after signature due to his exploits with Atletico, eventually singing with English giants Liverpool. He promptly set about lighting the English Premier League on fire, scoring goals for fun and creating a great bond with Steven Gerrard and fellow Spaniard Xabi Alonso. In four years at the club from 2007 to 2011, he scored 65 goals in 102 games. He was the spearhead of a lethal Liverpool team which will go down in history as underachieving.
Eventually his tenure at Liverpool came into question, a slight slide in form and a diminishing relationship with the Liverpool management saw him leave for fierce rivals Chelsea for a whopping $50 Million. A massive story and a huge coup for Chelsea, it looked like a move that would consign Liverpool to the mid-table and propel Chelsea to cement their place to the top of the table. However, it didn’t quite work that way. Liverpool went on to secure the services of Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres fell of the proverbial face of the footballing world.
Unable to make an impact, Torres became a victim of injuries, a lack of form and a shattered confidence which once ruled the footballing world. The combination of all this saw him fall down the pecking order at Chelsea for the likes of Didier Drogba and Demba Ba and moved onto AC Milan for a heavily cut price deal.
As quickly as he got to AC Milan, he left AC Milan. Farmed out on loan back to his boyhood club, the prodigal son had returned to Atletico. The scenes upon his return were incredible, almost as if he had never left. A homecoming fit for a king, it marked perhaps one of the most important moments of his entire career, an opportunity to start over.
Coming off nearly three years of physical and mental struggles with both clubs and country, Torres didn’t have the best of starts to life with Ateltico, but that soon changed, with the aid of beloved coach, Diego Simeone. Slowly Simeone gave him game time, bit by bit, game by game, his confidence returned. Before long, the Torres of old, was back.
Playing in a more creative role as the ‘second’ to Antione Greizmann in recent seasons, Torres has developed more of a passing game which he didn’t possess before. He no longer had to rely upon his sliding knack for goals and could contribute to the team in a different fashion then he ever could before.
His newly found passing game, combined with his ingrained sense for the goals has given Atletico a new aspect to their game and given Fernando a new importance in a team to which he could easily play second fiddle.
Since his return to the club, he has 14 goals in 49 games to go with his 82 goals from 314 appearances from 2001 to 2007. He isn’t the goal-scorer he was before, but now, he’s not the player he was before, and this player has played a role in securing Atletico a place in the Champions League final for the second time in three years.
Fernando Torres has shown his worth to arguably the most exciting prospect of a team in the world, and he deserves to play his role again next season and leave the game on his terms. Atletico will lose out if they fail to see his influence and sign him permanently from next season onwards.
Torres left Atletico a boy and he returned a broken footballing man. A shattered confidence, coming home gave him a new lease on his footballing life and he repaid the faith shown by Diego Simeone by ten. Looking at his career as it nears its end, it easy to speculate about missed opportunities and mistakes, but looking at how he has played, one must wonder, what could he have been had he stayed? What would he have gone down as in the history books?