By Andy Hall
It has been a memorable week for Club Atlético de Madrid marksman Fernando Torres, following his two goals against Primera División leaders FC Barcelona with an elegant strike for Spain in the 5-0 win against San Marino on Wednesday evening.
Torres scored at either end of Atlético's trip to Barcelona to make the Manzanares River-based side one of only two visiting teams to have emerged as winners at Camp Nou in more than a year. So important was the win, tears were shed during an emotional come-down in the Rojiblanco dressing room afterwards.
Camp Nou winners
"Nobody gave two hoots for Atlético's chances before the game, but in the end we won and must continue like that - game by game," Torres said. "We have come away from the Camp Nou as victors and you cannot ask for more than that. To score twice at the ground were I made my debut in the Primera División made it extra special for me."
Torres took just 37 seconds to land his first blow. He explained: "I was confident when confronting [Barça keeper Víctor] Valdés. We know each other well and I knew that if I aimed to his left it would go in, and luckily for me that's what happened". The striker completed the 2-0 win from the penalty spot four minutes into added time.
Torres is a naturally inventive player but one who has his feet firmly on the ground. He is also fairly superstitious and will regularly change his hairstyle, particularly when things are not going according to plan with his game. Atlético coach César Ferrando said: "He is a great player and he is still only 20.
With all his defects and virtues, Fernando is someone with a powerful personality; he is a winner."
Torres's passion for the game started when he was a toddler, and when he was not throwing his parents' prized possessions out of the window of their flat in Fuenlabrada, he was kicking a ball about. Aged five, he joined his first club, Parque 84, and after three years playing for the neighbourhood Futsal team he joined his first eleven-a-side club - Rayo 13, scoring 55 goals in one season.
He later passed a trial at Atlético to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Kiko, and celebrated his second outing for the first team by heading the winner against Albacete Balompié on 3 June 2001 at a time when they were scrapping for promotion back to the Primera División. Three years on, Torres has scored 42 league goals and is regarded as one of the most creative finishers around.
His 'Matrix'-style volley against Real Betis Balompié was one of the best goals of last season, and his strike against San Marino on Wednesday - his third international goal - was elegance personified. Iván de la Peña picked him out with a lofted pass, Torres brought the ball down, dodged past Simone Bacciocchi and tucked a shot just beyond the grasp of goalkeeper Federico Gasperoni.
With ten goals under his belt this term, things are going well for Torres and the player remains positive about the future. "Apart from the league, we are in the Copa del Rey and so this is an exciting time," he said. "We are showing that we are capable of big things and should remember the victory against Barça - it will help to spur us on."
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