Fernando Torres has officially retired from football, bringing an end to his glittering 19-year career in fitting fashion, after going head to head with international compatriot Andres Iniesta one last time.
The former Atletico Madrid and Liverpool striker swapped Spain for Japanese side Sagan Tosu last July, but earlier in the summer, he announced that he would retire after the match with Vissel Kobe on 23 August.
It ensured he could go head to head once more with Iniesta, with whom he often shared the field as a rival at club level and a teammate for Spain. After the match ended 6-1 to Vissel Kobe – with Iniesta finding the net – Torres’ professional career has officially been brought to its end.
Iniesta wrote a touching tribute to his colleague, published by El Mundo before the match, noting the poetic nature of marking the end of his career side-by-side, halfway across the world from where it all began.
“How weird. Don’t tell me no, Fernando,” the letter reads. “It’s very strange, I would say beautifully strange. Here we are both, about to play your last game as a professional. I still have left.
“Here we are. On the other side of the world. It is as if life, capricious her, had brought us to Japan to say goodbye. Football joined us more than 20 years ago, when we were children. Well, you will be forever El Niño. And it will never separate us.”
The match was understandably dominated by the Torres narrative, as his career that spanned five clubs and over 700 goals reached its conclusion, but there was no shortage of alternative Spanish and English interest in the showdown.
There was another former Barca player on each side, as Sergi Samper featured for Kobe while former starlet Isaac Cuenca flanked Torres.
Sagan Tosu’s only goal, meanwhile, came courtesy of an OG by former Arsenal and Barça man Thomas Vermaelen.