One of world football’s most feared strikers, Fernando Torres forms a deadly partnership with team-mate David Villa and has extensive pedigree for his national side. As well as scoring three goals at the last World Cup, Torres helped Spain to victory at Euro 2008 when scoring the winner in the final against Germany. However, he did not score in eight qualifiers for the finals in South Africa and will be determined to end his drought in competitive fixtures when the tournament starts.
Appropriately for a player nicknamed El Nino (‘The Kid’), Torres has set tongues wagging from a very early age. After coming through the ranks at Atletico Madrid he became the club’s youngest ever player in May 2001 and was later installed as their youngest ever captain at the age of 19. However, despite his admirable loyalty over a period of six years, Torres was finally lured to Anfield in the summer of 2007 for a fee of around £21.5 million, just weeks after ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was seen inscribed on his captain’s armband at Atletico.
Taking the number nine shirt vacated by Robbie Fowler, Torres adapted seamlessly and scored 33 goals in his first season to surpass the tally set by Ruud van Nistelrooy to become the most prolific foreign debutant in English football. He maintains a hugely-impressive strike rate at Liverpool and his consistently electric performances in his three seasons at Anfield have seen him become one of world football’s finest players.
Strengths: A born goalscorer, Torres possesses all the attributes needed by a world-class striker. He is quick, strong, impressive in the air, blessed with expert technique and is cool and collected in front of goal as well as having an eye for the spectacular.
Weaknesses: The suspicion remains that Torres can be distracted from his task by some physical attention from defenders, while he can be isolated if service is not forthcoming.
Career high: Scoring the winning goal in the Euro 2008 final against Germany as Spain ended their lengthy wait for a trophy on the international stage.
Career low: Failing to help Atletico Madrid regain their place in the Spanish top flight on the final day of his first season in the first team. Atleti’s slogan, conceived after their relegation the previous season, of ‘One Little Year In Hell’ had to be quickly scrapped.
Style: Clinical, classy, deadly, the complete striker.
Quotes: “When you talk about the Premier League you talk about a lot of players with quality so it is not easy to pick just one, but he is among the best.” Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, September 2009.
Trivia: Torres actually started off as a goalkeeper in his early days but quickly became a formidable striker, being named the best Under-14 player in Europe following his performances at the 1998 Nike Cup.