SWITZERLAND, JUNE 21 – Spain’s World Cup winning striker Fernando Torres announced his retirement from football on Friday, bringing an end to a glittering 18-year career.
Torres, who scored more than 100 goals across two spells at his boyhood club Atletico Madrid, also played for Premier League sides Liverpool and Chelsea and Italy’s AC Milan.
He left Atletico to join Japan’s Sagan Tosu in July last year but has struggled to hit the heights of his best days at Atletico and Liverpool at the J-League side.
“After 18 exciting years, the time has come to put an end to my football career,” the 35-year-old wrote on Twitter, adding that he would hold a news conference in Japan on Sunday to explain his decision.
Torres made his Spain debut in 2003 and scored the winning goal in the 2008 European Championship final against Germany before helping his country win their first World Cup in 2010.
He was the top scorer at Euro 2012 as Spain successfully defended their title and scored 38 goals in 110 appearances for his country in total, making him Spain’s country’s third-highest goalscorer behind David Villa (59) and Raul (44).
Joining Liverpool from Atletico Madrid for around £20m in 2007, he hit the ground running and netted 33 goals in 46 games in his first season. But though he didn’t win a trophy at Anfield, two performances inside four days in 2009 were a real highlight.
His first major trophy with Spain came at Euro 2008 and, given a chance to start because of an injury to David Villa, Torres scored the only goal of the game to defeat Germany 1-0 with a delicate chip over Jens Lehmann.
A World Cup trophy in 2010 followed, though Torres struggled with injury and played only a bit-part role — coming on in the 106th minute of the final before Andres Iniesta scored a late winner in extra-time over Netherlands.
Torres’ £50m move to Chelsea broke the British transfer record in January 2011 but, while he failed to hit the height of his time at Liverpool, he did score one very important goal.
Despite winning the first leg against Barcelona 1-0, Chelsea found themselves 2-1 and a man down (after John Terry’s 37th minute red card) against arguably the world’s greatest club side in the 2012 UCL semis at Camp Nou. With the clock ticking down and Barcelona pressing, Chelsea sealed the win as Ashley Cole’s clearance found Torres on the halfway line.
The striker raced through, rounded goalkeeper Victor Valdes and made commentator Gary Neville go all funny with his finish… The goal sent the Blues to the final where they beat Bayern Munich on penalties to win their only Champions League title to date.
Torres enjoyed his the most prolific spell at Liverpool between 2007 and 2011, netting 81 goals in 142 games across all competitions.