Fernando Torres: Ex-Liverpool and Chelsea striker's career ends in heavy defeat
Torres faced former Spain team-mates Andres Iniesta, David Villa in J-League fixture
Last Updated: 23/08/19 5:44pm
Fernando Torres' final game in professional football ended in disappointment after a 6-1 thrashing in Japan.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea striker announced his retirement in June and signed off on a sour note as his Sagan Tosu side were humbled by Andres Iniesta's Vissel Kobe.
Torres played the full 90 minutes of Friday's J-League clash but failed to bid farewell with a consolation goal, ex-Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen providing that when he turned into his own net.
Speaking after the match, Torres said: "I would like to thank Japan and all Japanese people that from the very first day welcomed me with excitement and helped me. Also, to the fans of our rivals that always respected me even though I was playing for another team.
"You have taught me a lot of things. You have reinforced fundamental values like to respect, not just the people but everything that surrounds us, so I wanted to thank you all.
"You have a beautiful country, a country that you respect like it deserves. I will come back because there are a lot of places still to visit, a lot of food to try. For me Japan always will be like a second home."
Torres shared the moment with his family alongside David Villa and Iniesta, and he will stay on in Japan to take up an advisory role with Sagan Tosu.
The striker received flowers from his children, and Torres addressed them, saying: "For me the most important is my family and I have the feeling that here in Japan I have also a big family, that it is all of you.
"You made me feel like part of your family. I will be always in debt with you.
"I would like you to know that from today I am going to start working alongside the president and the sporting directors to make the club each day a bit better, to make you feel prouder with your club, and hopefully one day you can celebrate a championship title with your club."
An illustrious career
Torres joined Sagan Tosu in July 2018 after leaving boyhood club Atletico Madrid for a second time but scored just four goals in 32 games in Japan.
He came through the youth system at Atletico, making his debut against Leganes in a Spanish second division game in March 2001.
After helping Atletico to promotion to La Liga the following season, Torres established himself as one of the most prolific strikers in Spain, top-scoring in five successive seasons to earn a move to Liverpool in 2007.
He struck 81 goals in 142 games before a shock move to Chelsea on Deadline Day in January 2011 for a then-British transfer record fee of £50m.
Torres scored just once in 18 games during the remainder of the 2010/11 season but he won the FA Cup and the Champions League with the Blues in 2012, as well as the Europa League in 2013, before leaving for AC Milan in 2014.
He returned to Atletico six months later, winning another Europa League title in 2018 in his penultimate match before his move to Japan.
But Torres was arguably most successful on the international stage, helping Spain win back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012, as well as the World Cup in 2010.