Biting Back: Fernando Torres the kid back home where he belongs
Football has always had its messiahs, but few have had a second coming like the one Fernando Torres experienced at the weekend when 45,000 people turned up to watch him re-sign for Atletico Madrid.
“One day you will have to tell me what I have done to deserve this,” responded Torres, who helped his new team-mates defeat bitter rivals Real Madrid last night.
It is a huge credit to Atletico supporters that they have not forgotten Torres and vice versa. In every celebration of every major honour the striker won with Spain he always carried an Atletico flag on the victory parade.
But the welcome home also reflects another feature of Torres’ career — exaggeration... how high his peak, how bad the low that followed, how important he might be to Atletico now.
For two or three years Torres did one thing better than anyone else in the world — hover on the shoulder of the last defender and accelerate clear on to the ball over the top to score.
But his brilliance during that spell owed much to the perfect conditions created by the Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez’s counter-attacking style. He also had a midfield of Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano — one that reads even better now than it did at the time.
People still ask “whatever happened to the prolific Torres?” but he has never really been a great goalscorer. At Atletico he never managed 20 goals in a season and for Spain his record of 38 goals in 110 games does not compare to David Villa’s 59 in 97.
Torres just needs to be himself. He is back home aged 30 and they are still calling him “The Kid”. What could be better?