While Ronaldo and Kaka almost always dominate the conversation as to who is the greatest player in the world, and there is no doubt Marta is the finest player in the women’s game (maybe ever), it gets more difficult to rank the players after them due to their sheer dominance in their respective leagues. However, one player has recently emerged from a pack of galacticos to establish himself as the fourth best player in the world.
Torres is still a relatively young talent at age 24 (his nickname is “The Kid”), but he has already assembled a historic career despite his tender years.
Signed by Atletico Madrid at age 11 (yes, you read that correctly), Torres has since developed the most refined finishing skills in the world. He has put them to good use too. In six seasons with Atletico (2001-2007), Torres scored over 80 goals. Last year, after being acquired by Liverpool, he rocked the EPL by scoring 25 goals. But his biggest and most important goal was still to be had.
On June 29, 2008, Torres took the field for Spain against Germany in the UEFA Euro 2008 Final. He had netted only one goal in the tournament so far and was under harsh criticism from the media for his poor attitude after being substituted in an earlier match. In the thirty-third minute of the Final, Torres shrugged off a defender to take a beautiful ball from Xavi. Rather than try to power it into the net, Torres hoodwinked the goalie by perfectly lifting the ball over the keeper’s outstretched arms for the game winning goal.
With that single flick of the ball into the net, Spain erased its reputation as underachiever and Torres cemented his status as a national hero. He also established himself, in my mind, as the fourth best player in the world, though he couldn’t have done it without the #5 player in the world, who will soon be revealed.