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At the time, Newcastle United manager Bobby Robson was apparently informed of Torres' talent by a Newcastle scout.Robson, however, decided against a move for the Spaniard. Torres made his début for Atlético Madrid in the Vicente Calderón Stadium against Leganes and he scored his first goal for the club the following week, in a game against Albacete.
2002 saw Atlético Madrid returning to the first division of Spanish football. In his first season playing in the top division, Torres did not find the transition from second tier football too much of a hindrance as he scored 13 goals. Torres has been the top scorer for Atlético in La Liga for the past four seasons.He is the youngest player to play for Atlético Madrid and the youngest to become captain (at age 19).
In 2003–2004 Torres made further strides as he scored 19 league goals in just 35 appearances. He was also named as Atlético's club captain aged just 19. Atlético also improved, but were pipped for a UEFA Cup place on the final day of the season as they finished 7th behind Sevilla due to goal difference in the two team's head-to-head record (2-1, 0-2).
In this season Torres made his debut for the full Spanish national team on September 6, 2003 in a friendly against Portugal. His first goal for Spain came against Italy on April 28, 2004. At the end of the season Torres was chosen as part of the Spanish squad for Euro 2004. He only appeared as a late substitute in Spain's first two group games, but made the first eleven for the deciding game against Portugal. Torres hit the post in the 62 minute after Nuno Gomes put Portgual ahead on 57 minutes. Spain lost 1-0 and were eliminated.
Atlético's 7th place finish in 2004 did qualify them for the Intertoto Cup, giving Torres his first taste of European club competition. They made the final, but agonisingly lost on penalties, this time to Villarreal.
At his first ever appearance in a World Cup finals at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Torres scored the final goal in a 4-0 victory over Ukraine with a volley. In the second group match, Torres scored twice against Tunisia, in the 76th minute for Spain to take the lead 2-1 and then again from a penalty kick in the 90th. Torres was dropped from the team for a friendly versus Romania in November 2006, but returned to the national side for the friendly against England in February 2007, a 1-0 win for Spain. After the World Cup Torres admitted that he turned down the chance to join Chelsea after the end of the 2005-06 season.
Again in 2007, Torres's future at Madrid was the subject of much speculation after Atlético's inability to secure a UEFA Cup spot. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United were all linked with a move for the player. Following the end of the 2006-07 season, reports in the English media stated that Torres was the main transfer target of Liverpool.
The rumours reached such a fever pitch that Atlético president Enrique Cerezo made a statement saying "We've received no offer from Liverpool or any other club or player". However, a few days later new reports suggested that Atletico had agreed a deal with Liverpool for Torres, the fee rumoured was £20 million plus Luis Garcia. Then on 30 June Atlético announced agreeing a deal with Villareal to sign Diego Forlán (seen as a potential replacement for Torres).
On July 2 it was reported that Torres had cut short his holiday to fly back to Madrid to finalize the move. The next day Torres passed a medical for Liverpool and it was annouced that a farewell press conference would be held in Madrid the on 4 July to bid farewell to the Atlético Madrid fans. Later that day, Atlético officially confirmed his transfer to Liverpool on their website.
Torres will wear Liverpool's number 9 shirt, which has previously been worn by legendary Liverpool strikers Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush. It was revealed during the Liverpool press conference that the fee stood at £27 million. It has also been widely reported that Torres has taken a pay cut as part of the transfer. A drop from £103,000 a week in Spain, to about £90,000 according to The Times.
Torres made his official debut for Liverpool F.C. on July 17, 2007 during a friendly match against Werder Bremen. Torres scored his first goal for Liverpool F.C. on August 3, 2007 during a friendly match against Shanghai Shenhua, which was also his first start. Torres is Liverpool F.C.'s record signing. On August 11, 2007 Torres made his competitive debut for Liverpool F.C. against Aston Villa in a 2-1 win.
He scored his first English Premier League goal on his Anfield debut August 19th, in the 16th minute of the match against Chelsea running on to a Steven Gerrard pass he took the ball past Chelsea's defender Tal Ben Haim and slotted it into the Chelsea net, this silenced many critics including Aaron Williams, a biased Manchester United supporter and infamous media figure. The game ended 1-1 after a bad decision by Rob Styles who gave Chelsea a controversial penalty in the 62nd minute.
In November of 2001 Torres played in the Under-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. In July of 2002, he played in the Under-19 European Championships in Norway, a tournament Spain won. Torres was both top scorer and Player of the Tournament. He made his debut for the Under-21 national team in 2003. On September 6, later that year, Torres made his debut for the senior national team against Portugal. His first goal for Spain came against Italy on April 28, 2004.
It was widely expected that a good performance for Spain at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany would boost Torres' already significant demand among major European clubs. At his first ever appearance in a World Cup finals match, Torres scored with a spectacular volley helping Spain to a win over Ukraine. In the second group match Spain rallied from a 0-1 deficit against Tunisia to win 3-1. Torres scored in the 76th minute for Spain to take the lead 2-1 and then again from a penalty kick in the 90th minute.
He was subsequently given a much-needed rest in Spain's third group match against Saudi Arabia, entering the game only to substitute José Antonio Reyes in the 70th minute. Having managed to score three goals in the tournament, Torres was one of the leading goal scorers in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He was also the first player to score three goals in the tournament. Torres started the round of 16 matches against France, but after initially taking the lead, Spain went on to lose 1-3 and were knocked out of the tournament.
The Spanish national team coach, Luis Aragonés, remarked that he "never scores two goals the same", highlighting Fernando's versatility as a player. Moreover he was Spain's best player at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.
However, Torres was dropped from the team for a friendly versus Romania in November 2006, after having only scored 2 goals in 8 matches due to a slight drop in form. He was the youngest player ever to score for Spain.