Fernando Torres’s rise through the professional soccer ranks has been nothing short of meteoric. The Spaniard followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and grew up an Atlètico Madrid fan and, after dominating his amateur leagues, joined the club at the tender age of 11. Torres did not take long to display his talent, and when he was 14 he helped Atlètico win a European under 15 tournament and was named the best player in Europe at that age level. Atlètico rewarded his performance by signing him to his first contract when he was only 15 years old.
Torres, nicknamed El Niño, continued to improve and, after helping Atlètico win another tournament, was promoted to the senior team, scoring his first goal when he was only 17. Atletico progressed along with Torres and while he was there gained promotion to La Liga and earned a spot in European competition in the Intertoto Cup. Torres remained loyal to his club during this stretch and was named the team’s captain, despite many offers from larger clubs abroad. Eventually, though, Torres was lured away from Atlètico by the prospect of playing for a big club in more prestigious European competition. He was transferred to English giant Liverpool in July 2007.
While many players, especially strikers, need time to adjust to the style of play in the Premiership, Torres showed no signs of needing an adjustment period. In his first season for Liverpool, Torres notched 32 goals and led the Reds to the Champions League semifinals and fourth place in the standings. He has proved himself one of the best strikers in the world, using his speed and creativity to find the back of the net, and will surely bring joy to Liverpool fans for years to come.
Though he is only 24 years old, Torres has won nearly 50 caps for Spain. He made his international debut in 2003 and by 2004 had become a regular member of the starting 11. With three goals at the 2006 World Cup he truly established himself as a world-class talent. If Torres continues the form he has shown at Liverpool this season Spain could go far this summer.