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Torres - the making of a legend

Fernando Torres and Per Mertesacker
Spain's Euro 2008 final hero Torres scored 33 goals for Liverpool last season

By John Sinnott

Spain striker Fernando Torres set a record for the highest league tally by a foreign player in his Premier League debut season for Liverpool, surpassing Ruud van Nistelrooy's mark of 23 league goals in the final game of the 2007-2008 campaign against Tottenham to reach the milestone of 24.

Then on Sunday the 24-year-old capped his incredible year by scoring the winner in his nation's 1-0 victory over Germany in the final of Euro 2008.

Pedro Calvo coached Torres during his time in Atletico Madrid's youth academy.

Before Spain's Euro 2008 Group D opener against Russia, Calvo told BBC Sport about his time working with the young forward and how he always believed he would become a world-class player.

CALVO ON COACHING TORRES

He was one of the best players I had seen in a long time, so I was very excited when I found out I had the opportunity to coach him.

And he's the same person now as he was when he was a young boy. He continues to be a player that epitomises teamwork, humility, and goodwill. That's why he captained almost all the teams he represented.

Then, as now, one of the most important aspects of his game was his pace, in addition to his composure in front of goal. When most young players, around the age of 13, would get nervous at the crucial moment, Fernando would excel.

CALVO ON TORRES MAKING THE GRADE

I always knew he'd make it as a professional. I never had any doubts. In fact, I still have an article that was published in the newspaper Marca when we were about to compete in the European tournament after winning the Under-14 Spanish Championship title.

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We had a young team with many boys who later became world-famous players and I had always said that if Fernando continued to progress he would achieve similar success.

Fernando had great leadership qualities on and off the pitch. Sometimes footballers learn from their experiences and grow in maturity. Others put their ego first but this was never the case with Fernando.

If he didn't play because of injury, other players missed him. He was often the difference on the pitch, the one who could change the course of a game with his skill and vision.

CALVO ON THE STRIKER'S GOALSCORING

He always led the line. And he always took the penalties. That was his speciality but free-kicks were never his forte.

He always took responsibility when there was a penalty but everyone agreed that he was the best person to take them. They trusted him.

Furthermore, he would always help others on the pitch, encouraging his teammates, and impressing his determined attitude and mentality on the team.

CALVO ON THE SPAIN STAR'S FAMILY

Fernando's family has always been very close to him, helping him through good and bad times and he has always been surrounded by coaches, such as myself or Abraham Garcia, the current coach of Atletico Madrid B. We have always tried to guide him in the right direction.

Fernando always accepted help and advice. He analysed everything we told him in order to make the right decisions.

And he has always been a very intelligent player, always level-headed when it came to making important decisions.

CALVO ON THE MOVE TO ENGLAND

Because I know him both on a personal and professional level, I think the English league, above the Italian and Spanish leagues, was the best choice for Fernando.

So I'm not surprised as to how quickly he has adapted. I think that some Atletico fans assumed he would take a little more time to settle. Even in England I don't think people expected him to start as well as he has.

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Archive: Euro 2000 - Yugoslavia 3-4 Spain

But I think Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez is still expecting a lot more from Fernando in years to come. He's obviously helped him adapt quickly and he doesn't have the same sort of responsibility that he held at Atletico, like being named captain when he was only 18, and carrying the weight of an entire club on his shoulders.

Fernando is an incredible player with the potential to change the face of football. I believe that he will continue to improve and go on to achieve even greater success.



see also
Germany 0-1 Spain
29 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Xavi awarded Euro 2008 accolade
30 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Germany v Spain photos
29 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
BBC pundits on Euro 2008 final
29 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Euro 2008 final as it happened
29 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Why Torres is Anfield's new hero
01 Apr 08 |  Liverpool


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