Torres showed how homegrown superstars could leave with class
He might not start for Spain in Sunday night's World Cup final, but you just know that
Moaning is not his style. Torres has class.
It may not seem important, but it is, and this week it became clear why.
With their many parallels, Torres provides the perfect contrast to LeBron. He joined his hometown team Atletico Madrid at 11, turned down Real Madrid at 12, made his debut at 17 and was named captain at 19. As a youngster, he broke all scoring records: 68 goals in two years as he was named Europe's best U-15 player, before leading Spain to success in the U-16 and U-19 European championships, hitting the winner in the final in both tournaments. Atletico, a team that has always lived in the shadow of its more illustrious neighbor Real, is almost comparable to Cleveland
For three successive summers, Torres turned down offers from clubs trying to buy him. It was only in summer 2007, when he felt his presence was holding back the team, that he chose to join Liverpool and its Spanish coach
"Being captain of a team like Atletico Madrid so young was an honor but also a very heavy responsibility, and that was one of the reasons why I left," Torres explained. "I wanted to progress on a sporting level at one of Europe's big clubs, but I also wanted to play in a collective, and not be an isolated star."
The supporters understood, they parted on good terms and the decision proved the right one: in the first season after Torres' departure, Atletico, now playing like a team and not dependent on its superstar, finished in the top four for the first time since winning the title in 1996. It finished fourth again the following season and this year, thanks to the goals of
The issue of loyalty and class will come up again this summer. Liverpool, in debt to the tune of around $538 million has changed its coach and its American owners, desperate to raise funds, are already fielding offers of up to $60 million for Torres from their Premier League rivals. But don¹t be so sure that Torres will leave. He has been at Anfield for three years and speaks often of his love for the team, its supporters and their unshakeable loyalty. "When we lose a game, I am more upset for them than I am for myself," he said. "Liverpool fans protect the team over and above everything else, their affection has never weakened, and I have a lot of respect for that."
In return, it's feasible that Torres could stay at Liverpool for at least one more season and help the club stabilize under new coach
Ultimately, though, the decision will be down to Torres. He has shown before that doing things in the right way is important to him. It may be too late now, but perhaps LeBron could learn a thing or two from that.