A number of players who tasted success at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship have gone on to shine at senior level over the years, but few rising stars have burned as brightly as Spain's Fernando Torres.
Top scorer at the inaugural U19 event in 2001/02 Torres – who had scored the winner in the U16 final the previous season, one of six goals for the Spanish striker over the course of the finals – gave ample notice of his glittering talent in Norway. The Club Atlético de Madrid forward scored twice in his sole qualifying appearance, the second leg of the intermediary round play-off against F.Y.R. Macedonia, but failed to find the net in Spain's first fixture at the finals, a 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic.
That proved only a minor glitch for both forward and his team, however, as the hosts were defeated 3-0 in Honefoss with Torres scoring the second goal in between José Antonio Reyes' double. Having found his scoring touch, Torres continued in a similar vein in the concluding Group A fixture, finding the net twice in the second period as the Spanish recovered from a goal down to overcome Slovakia 3-1 and clinch first place in the section, and a berth in the final.
In front of 16,400 spectators – still a U19 record – at the Ullevål stadium in Oslo, Torres repeated his feat from the 2001 European U16 Championship. Then he had scored the only goal of the final against France; this time, Germany were the victims as the Spanish striker completed a notable double with the solitary strike ten minutes into the second half to give his country the trophy. It was no surprise when Torres became a U21 international in September 2002 and stepped up to the senior side the following autumn. Moved on to Liverpool FC in 2007, enjoying a sensational first season in England with 24 league goals and then helping Spain win their first major trophy in 44 years at UEFA EURO 2008 after again scoring the winner in a final – a 1-0 victory over Germany in Vienna.
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