Former Chelsea striker Fernando Torres has officially retired from football, playing his final game in Japan on Friday, meaning it’s time to say thanks for the memories and look back at some favourite moments from his time with the Blues.
The Spanish striker called time on his career while representing Sagan Tosu, hanging up his boots after an emotional last game against a Vissel Kobe side featuring his childhood friend Andres Iniesta and their fellow Spanish World Cup winner David Villa.
It was eight-and-a-half years ago that Torres arrived at Stamford Bridge in a record deal on transfer deadline day in January 2011. While he didn’t manage to hit quite the same heights with the Blues as he had at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool earlier in his career, the striker was still a popular figure with fans and won the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup during his time at Chelsea, not to mention providing a few treasured memories.
Chelsea 3-0 West Ham United, 23.04.2011
The outpouring of emotion when Torres fired in his first goal in a Chelsea shirt is not a moment likely to be forgotten by anyone who was inside Stamford Bridge that day. Despite the critics elsewhere as the Spaniard searched for his opening strike for the club, the supporters remained steadfastly behind him, and even the weather seemed to be keen to add to the drama of the moment. Torres was sent on from the bench by Carlo Ancelotti as the heavens opened in a torrential downpour which soon had the pitch flooded, along with plenty of thunder and lightning overhead to boot. The goal itself owed plenty to determination and quick thinking, as the ball slowed down and stuck in a puddle as Torres tried to create a shooting opportunity in the box. No problem, he simply spun and struck the shot where it was, beating future Blues keeper Rob Green in front of the delighted Matthew Harding Stand, before being mobbed by his team-mates in celebration.
Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, 24.02.2012
Torres’ defining moment in a Chelsea shirt came in the second leg of our epic Champions League semi-final with Barcelona in 2012. Things were balanced on a knife edge at the Nou Camp as the match entered its closing stages, with Chelsea down to 10 men and keeping nine of them behind the ball in an attempt to hold on to our narrow away-goal lead, in the face of a relentless Catalan onslaught. However, the one man not behind the ball was Torres, lurking menacingly as Barca committed more and more bodies forward in search of a winner, meaning that when Ashley Cole smashed a clearance upfield it was our Spaniard who was there to pick up the ball and race clear towards goal. It is unlikely any Blues fan needs reminding what happened next, but just in case, Torres covered half the length of the pitch with the ball and rounded keeper Victor Valdes before slotting home to put us into the Champions League final, and eventual glory, as well as sending commentator Gary Neville into depths of pleasure which have became almost as famous as the goal itself.
Chelsea 6-1 Queens Park Rangers, 29.04.12
Just five days after vanquishing Barcelona in Catalonia, Torres put in arguably his best performance in a Chelsea shirt. It came in a west London derby against QPR as he helped us race into a healthy 4-0 lead within the first 25 minutes. Daniel Sturridge and John Terry had given us an early advantage, but it was Torres who really put the Hoops defence to the sword, first giving Paddy Kenny a taste of what Valdes had felt days earlier by taking the ball around the goalkeeper to put us three up, before capitalising on a defensive error to score again soon after. Just past the hour mark the Spaniard completed his first and only Chelsea hat-trick, being set free by countryman Juan Mata and side-footing the ball into the corner of the net, helping us on our way to our 400th victory in the Premier League.
Chelsea 2-1 Benfica, 15.05.2013
Our number nine also played a significant role in us lifting the second piece of continental silverware during his time with the Blues, the 2013 Europa League. He bagged an impressive nine goals in the competition that season, helping him to become our third-highest scorer of all time in European matches, including getting the opener in the final itself. The deadlock in that tight encounter with Benfica in Amsterdam was broken by Torres on the hour, as he first outpaced and then outmuscled his marker Luisao in pursuit of a ball in behind, then left goalkeeper Artur scrabbling across the turf with a clever dummy before rolling the ball in from an angle. It may have been overshadowed slightly by Branislav Ivanovic’s injury-time winning header, but the opener was a great example of Torres at his best. It’s also worth noting that victory incredibly meant Torres was a holder of the Champions League, Europa League, World Cup and European Championship all at the same time, thanks to his exploits with Chelsea and Spain.
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City, 27.10.2013
There was more drama from the striker early in his last full season with Chelsea, 2013/14, when we hosted title rivals Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. First, Torres left Gael Clichy for dead with a powerful run down the right, before picking out Andre Schurrle to open the scoring with a simple finish. Then, after Sergio Aguero had equalised, he found the winner himself just as City were starting to pat themselves on the back for collecting a hard-earned away point. Joe Hart and debutant Martin Demichelis got in a muddle over who would deal with Willian’s long pass, and there was Torres, instinctively sniffing out an opportunity, to pick up the pieces and score the decisive goal in the 90th minute.