Chelsea striker Fernando Torres used to scare the life out of defenders during his Liverpool days, but those are now a distant memory.
Subjected to Facebook jokes and trolls, made synonymous with the verb 'miss', is the person everybody owes their recent twitches of tickle bone to.
What they forget, however, is that the same person was once the darling of the football world.
He was the predator the toughest of centre-backs feared; it used to take him a mere blink to make them appear as the biggest clowns on planet. Over the years fate marked him out and he suffered a cruel or, for some of us a humorous, fall.
If you were to take some time off and rewind through the flashes of past, your humour would melt away into lamentation. No matter which club you support, good players who provide consistent flashes of brilliance are always a joy to watch.
Torres used to be one of such a kind.
He had all the ingredients to frame his name in the gallery of legends: blistering pace, assassin-like accuracy, mountain cat-like movement. Nothing in the world suggested he would fall short of making a legacy like that of the Brazilian Ronaldo. Like him, he was on due course to international glory having already showered in the victory of Euro 2008.
Torres was a well-known prodigy at Atlético Madrid and it was no surprise he had the titans of Europe tracking him. Rafael Benitez made the splurge when he signed the man who would become Liverpool’s talisman for the upcoming seasons. He wasted no time in making an impact and lived up to his image as a big-game player; finishing off from tight angles, making the clinical turn to get ahead of the defenders, latching on to the through balls of Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard and finally executing the exquisite finish.
He was marked on the same hallowed list as the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba. Having scored 72 goals in 102 matches, things took an ugly turn. Torres had to undergo two knee injury operations within the break of four months. For a player who earned his bread off the back of his pace, sadly he never was the same.
The fact that he pulled himself over the cliff trying to get fit for Spain for the 2010 World Cup didn’t help. The next season Torres never managed to scale the old heights as a result of being continuously hampered by niggles.
Then came Chelsea and here is where things get interesting, sad or ugly depending on who you are.
Liverpool never gave an ear to Chelsea’s offer until Torres handed in a transfer request. The deal proceeded in the late dusky hours of transfer deadline day and Torres became the player we now know.
To Chelsea’s credit, at least, they have managed to keep him on his legs.
Many have pointed out that rather than his legs the case is with his head. Torres doesn’t have the confidence of old and the way Chelsea play doesn’t help either. The burden of the £50m tag also weighs on him, though most Chelsea fans seem to have given up.
But the under-confidence argument seems weak for a player who has tons of cup finals and big-match performances under his belt.
Torres has promised that in due time he will come up with the exact truth. Until then we can only project our what-ifs, imagining what it would have been like having him light up the Premier League week-in and week-out like the old days.
Sadly he will not be remembered in the breaths of legends. Raul will never be remembered for his performance in the Bundesliga last season but Torres will always be associated with his unfortunate London days.
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