Fernando Torres was only able to make a half-hour brief cameo in Spain's opening loss to Switzerland. If he's selected in Vicente del Bosque's starting eleven against Honduras it will be his first starting appearance since April 4th against Birmingham City in the Premier League.
Once given the green light by del Bosque, Torres will be raring to lead Spain to their first World Cup title. An injury-plagued season at Liverpool will surely have added fuel to his fire to deliver his country's first World Cup title. He helplessly watched as his Reds fell short of Champions League qualification and sadly missed out facing former club Atlético Madrid in the Europa League semi-final.
Some over-eager pundits and fans have already written-off Spain's progression into the 2010 World Cup knockout stage. Those who have dismissed the chances of "La Furia Roja" do so at their own peril. Now that the reigning European champions are getting back a fit version of their leading man, the 30 remaining World Cup participants better keep their guard up.
Torres does not need any extra motivation to shine in South Africa. He is keen to finally bury his country's label as World Cup underachievers and repeat their triumph of Euro 2008. After all, Greece won the European championship in 2004 and did little to enhance their reputation. Finally lifting that golden trophy would confirm Spain's standing as world power alongside Brazil, Italy, Germany, and Argentina to thrust them into football lore.
The man they call "El Niño" will eagerly want to heighten his worldwide regard and reproduce the form that has the red half of Liverpool worshiping the 26-year-old. Torres is unequivocally amongst the best strikers in the sport but a World Cup victory turns icons into legends. The backdrop of South Africa's carnival atmosphere could prove to be the scene in which Torres etches his name into the pantheon of immortals like Maradona and Pelé.
Most have suggested Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney will have the sort of tournament that earns them such a status. The media hype machine hasn't given Torres such backing, but that should be perfectly fine to the humble Spaniard who would prefer to let his ability do the talking.
Torres is a master of changing public opinion. Upon his arrival at Liverpool, some pundits were dismissive of his ability to handle the physical English game because of his boyish appearance of being thin framed and long-haired. Fernando went on to bully top Premier League defenders and be hailed by the press as "powerful and mentally tough."
Once branded a "national joke" by the anti-Atlético Spanish media, he was able to erase that perception by producing wonderful performances for Liverpool and his country. The winning goal he scored against Germany in Euro 2008 finally made Fernando a beloved figure in his homeland.
His genuine personality, dashing good looks, and of course his skill on the pitch has made him a major icon in England and Spain. Torres has already won plenty of admirers. If he's able to produce his best form and lead his country to glory on the world's stage he may become one of the few who transcend the game itself.
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