The career of Fernando Torres appeared over. A disastrous spell at Chelsea and AC Milan was supposed to mark the end of the career of a striker who scored the goal for Spain that made them European Champions in 2008.
But the former Liverpool striker has rediscovered his scoring touch under Diego Simeone and he is currently the hottest Spanish striker in Spain with six goals in his last 11 La Liga games and four in his last four – in all competitions.
‘I don’t know if it’s the best moment of my career here. I knew how strong this team was before I arrived because I had faced them for Chelsea,’ he said on Monday.
‘Winning something with this club is the one experience I’m missing as an Atletico player. I have great memories of getting my first chance here, now we have a great chance this season to win something but we have to keep working.’
No Spanish striker has a better goals per minutes ratio right now and a social media campaign is asking Vicente Del Bosque to bring him back into the Spain squad. Asked about the possibility of a Spain call-up Torres repeated the one-game-at-a-time mantra of his coach Diego Simeone.
He said: ‘I’m not thinking about anything more than Bilbao on Wednesday. The rest is in the distant future. I’m just happy to be playing all the time and for the end of season the team is having.
‘The end to the season is going to be very intense. Anything can happen in football. Who would have said a month ago that we would be where we are now? That’s why you can never stop believing.’
Torres’ goals have helped take Atletico Madrid level at the top of La Liga with Barcelona and into the semi-final of the Champions League where he will come up against Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm.
Eight years ago it was Lahm who he left trailing in his wake as he scored Spain’s European Championship winner. It would be an incredible end to his career if aged 32 his form did make him a shock late entry into Spain’s squad for this summer’s Euros.
‘He gives us something different,’ says Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone who was reluctant to rubber stamp a new deal for Torres back in January but is beginning to change his mind.
With 105 career goals for the club he grew up supporting Torres epitomizes the spirit Simeone wants from his players and the club now look set to offer him a two-year deal. If he signs that having appeared in a European Cup final or better still lifting the trophy or winning La Liga, and then gets the call up from Vicente del Bosque to go to France it will have been an incredible year and a half for the striker.