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Career

Early career
Fernando Torres, born on 20 March 1984, became interested in association football as a child and joined his first team, Parque 84, at the age of five. His grandfather was not passionate about football, but prided himself in being an Atlético Madrid supporter, and Torres inherited his love for the Madrid club. However, when he was seven years old, he started playing regularly as a striker in an indoor league for his neighbourhood club, Mario’s Holland. He was later voted the best player in Europe for that age-group. Torres’ first season at the highest level of Spanish football, La Liga 2002-03, was a good one which saw him manage to score 12 goals in 29 appearances as Atlético finished 11th. Aged just nineteen, he was also named Atlético’s club captain. Atlético reached the final, but lost on penalties to Villarreal CF. Cerezo later said in January 2006 that the club were willing to listen to offers for Torres, and Torres claimed Newcastle United F.C. had made a bid to sign him in March.

After the 2006 FIFA World Cup, in which Torres participated as a member of the Spain national football team, he admitted that he had turned down the chance to join Chelsea at the end of the La Liga 2005-06 season. Following the La Liga 2006-07 season, in which he scored 14 La Liga goals, with reports in the English media stating that Torres was the main transfer target of Liverpool. The rumours reached such a fever pitch that Atlético president Enrique Cerezo made a statement saying, “We’ve received no offer from Liverpool or any other club or player.” However, a few days later, new reports suggested Atlético had agreed a deal with Liverpool for Torres; the fee rumoured was £25 million with Luis Javier García Sanz moving in the opposite direction in a separate transfer deal. Then on 30 June Atlético announced a deal with Villarreal to sign Diego Forlán, which was seen as a move to replace Torres before his departure had become official. On 2 July it was reported Torres had cut short a holiday to fly back to Madrid to finalise the move to Liverpool. The following day, Torres passed a medical for Liverpool and it was announced that a farewell press conference would be held in Madrid on 4 July to bid farewell to the Atlético fans. The transfer fee is the highest paid in Liverpool’s history.

Liverpool
Torres made his competitive debut for Liverpool against Aston Villa F.C. in a 2–1 win on 11 August 2007. He made his first appearance in the UEFA Champions League four days later in a 1–0 victory over Toulouse FC, after coming on as a 79th minute substitute. His first Premier League goal came on his Anfield debut on 19 August, in the 16th minute in a 1–1 draw against Chelsea F.C.. His first hat-trick came in a 4–2 victory over Reading F.C. in the Football League Cup in September, with all of his goals coming in the second half. His first goals in the Champions League came on his third appearance in the competition as Liverpool beat F.C. Porto 4–1, during which he scored twice.

He won the Premier League’s player of the month award for February, during which he scored four goals in two league appearances, including a hat-trick against Middlesbrough F.C. on 23 February 2008. This hat-trick and another in a 4–0 victory over West Ham United F.C. on 5 March 2008 meant he became the first Liverpool player since Jack Balmer in November 1946 to score a hat-trick in successive home matches. Later in March, after he scored a 47th minute header against Reading F.C. at Anfield, he became the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler in the 1995-96 in English football season campaign to score 20 league goals in a season.

In April, he scored another Champions League goal, this time against Arsenal F.C. in the quarter-final second leg, to help take Liverpool through to the semi-final. This goal took him onto 29 goals for the season in all competitions, eclipsing former Liverpool F.C. favourite Michael Owen personal record for goals in a season. On 11 April, 2008, it was announced Torres had made a six man shortlist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award, which was eventually won by Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United F.C.. The Spanish international was also nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award, which was won by Cesc Fàbregas of Arsenal and was named in the PFA Team of the Year.

On 4 May 2008, Torres scored a 57th minute winner against Manchester City F.C., which equalled the consecutive Anfield league goal record of eight games set by Roger Hunt. After scoring his 24th league goal in the final game of the season, a 2–0 win against Tottenham Hotspur F.C., he set a new record for the most prolific foreign goal scorer ever in a debut season in England, eclipsing Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 23 goals. He ended the season in joint second with Emmanuel Adebayor in the race for the Premier League golden boot. Torres was subject to media speculation that Chelsea were willing pay £50 million to sign him but Torres responded by saying it would be “many years” before he left Liverpool. Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks also negated the idea of a transfer, saying he would not allow Torres to leave the club at any price. Torres made a promising start to the Premier League 2008–09 season, scoring the only goal in a 0–1 away win against Sunderland A.F.C.. He suffered what was later confirmed as a hamstring tear in a 0–0 draw against Aston Villa, which would keep him out for two to three weeks.

International career
In February 2001, Torres won the Algarve Tournament with the Spain under-16 team. The under-16s took part in the 2001 UEFA European Under-16 Football Championship in May, which they also won, with Torres scoring the only goal in the final, as well as finishing as the tournament’s leading goalscorer and was also named the player of the tournament. making him Spain’s top scorer for qualification. In the second group match, Torres scored twice against Tunisia national football team; firstly in the 76th minute to take Spain 2–1 into the lead and then again from a penalty kick in the 90th. He finished the tournament as Spain’s joint top scorer alongside fellow striker David Villa with three goals. The Madrileño was called up to Spain’s UEFA Euro 2008 squad, where he set up Villa to score Spain’s first goal of the tournament in the opening game against Russia national football team. Torres came under criticism for apparently refusing to shake the hand of Spanish manager, Luis Aragonés, after being substituted. He has since denied being angry with the coaching, citing that he was actually “angry with himself”. Torres scored the winner and claimed the Man of the match award in the UEFA Euro 2008 Final against Germany national football team in a 1–0 victory. He was later named as a striker along with his striking partner David Villa in the “team of the tournament”.

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