RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 21: The nickname “El Nino” sticks to Fernando Torres, although the striker says defiantly he has achieved more than enough in football to be able to shed the nickname “The Kid.”
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, though, has not been convinced Torres is the striker he once was.
The 29-year-old Torres has gone from top-scorer at the 2012 European Championship, with a goal in the victorious final against Italy, to Spain outcast, falling out of favor with the coach.
As he struggled for form with Chelsea, there was a solitary Spain appearance after Euro 2012 -- as an ineffective substitute against France in October—before being dropped from the squad completely until Vicente del Bosque recalled him for the Confederations Cup this year.
Only the fact Spain was drawn to play Tahiti—ranked 138th in the world by FIFA—gave Torres his chance to make his first competitive appearance for Spain since October on Thursday.
He seized the chance, scoring four goals for the first time his career—despite missing a penalty—as the team from the Pacific Ocean was crushed 10-0.
Torres, though, has never doubted that he deserves to be in the Spain team, speaking defiantly after the game in the Maracana Stadium.
“I have done enough things in my career with Spain so I don't have to prove anything,” Torres said.
“I have played more than 100 caps and I have scored more than 25 goals. I have been playing 10 years for the national team so (I have) nothing to prove. I am not a kid.”
Selecting Torres against Tahiti was one of 10 changes Del Bosque made from the side that started the 2-1 victory over Uruguay in the Confederations Cup on Sunday.
“It's always natural to rotate players,” said goalkeeper Pep Reina, who was selected over Iker Casillas. “(Torres) is always there, and the (goal) numbers are speaking for themselves, and any chance that Fernando has (he takes)
“In the Euros he wasn't playing that much and he was top goal-scorer, so he's always there or thereabouts and always answering the questions.”
Torres just hasn't been getting enough chances to answer his critics.
But at an age when Torres should be at his peak, a spot in the Chelsea team has become increasingly uncertain.
Although he did score in Chelsea's 2-1 win over Benfica in the Europa League final in May, many of his 23 goals for Chelsea last season were against lesser opponents.
For a player who cost Chelsea 50 million pounds (then $81 million) to sign from Liverpool in 2011, Torres managed to score just twice against teams that finished in the Premier League's top four last season and he struggled to make the starting line-up for the big games.
Such profligacy led to Torres being shunned by Del Bosque, and now he's just happy to be finding the net again.
He slid in the first after just five minutes against Tahiti, slotted the ball in an empty net for Spain's third in the 33rd, and side-footed in the team's sixth after darting in to meet Jesus Navas' cross.
The only low-point of the match—which drew derision from the Maracana crowd—was hitting the bar from the penalty spot but Torres later rounded the goalkeeper to bury Spain's ninth.
“Always it's hard to score goals, it isn't easy to score 10 goals against any team in the world,” Torres said. “It doesn't matter the opponent and the opposition but I'm happy.
“As you know we have changed 10 players from the first game, I think we are creating more and more competition between us and that's good.”
And Torres hopes Del Bosque is pleased with the second-string team's attitude.
“We started by scoring an early goal and, after that, you can see the team is playing with focus, with intensity from the first minute until the last minute,” Torres said.
“And sometimes it is difficult when the result is as big as tonight. You can relax and start passing the ball and start doing stupid things—back-heels and this kind of thing. But I think Spain has shown respect from the first minute until the last minute and that's good to see.”
Although he doesn't feel his morale needed boosting, undoubtedly the goals will help Torres.
“We have the confidence when we play every team, we are probably the best in the world so that's what is giving us confidence,” Torres said. “From now until the end of the competition we have to show the same character and determination and see what happens.
“We have to forget about this game and think of the next one.”
Torres will just be hoping Del Bosque remembers Thursday's performance, and he gets another chance to contribute goals against Nigeria on Sunday.