Who received Fernando Torres' shirt after he scored his 100th goal for Atletico Madrid?
On Saturday, Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Eibar 3-1 to stay in the La Liga title race for the time being. Torres has been aching to reach the landmark ever since he scored his 99th goal back in September 2015. That goal was also against Eibar.
El Nino, as he is fondly called, did not start this game. He came on only as a 76th-minute substitute for Yannick Carrasco. By then Jose Maria Gimenez and Saul Niguez had already put the Rojiblancos in front courtesy of two headers from corner kicks.
But Torres was not to be denied and he was at the right place at the right time to score the third goal in second-half injury time. After some neat interplay on the left flank, 22-year-old summer signing Luciano Vietto set up Torres for the finish to help him reach his milestone.
The cross came in from the left and whizzed past the first defenders and squeezed between the second defender and goalkeeper, allowing Torres to make an unmarked run into the six-yard box and calmly slot the ball past Asier Riesgo to make it 3-1.
At the full-time whistle, while many would have wanted his shirt, Torres ran straight to an elderly man by the sidelines. His name? Angel Manuel Brinas. Who is he? He is an 80-year-old at the club who helps coordinate ball boys on matchdays in spite of the fact that he needs a crutch to move around.
He is also the man who discovered Torres more than two decades ago.
Angel Manuel Brinas – the man who discovered Torres
Back in 1995, Brinas and his assistant Victor Peligros were looking at around 200 prospective talents when they chanced upon an 11-year-old striker with blond hair. They boy was none other than Torres. Brinas was impressed with him that he told Peligros to give Torres ten out of ten because of the way he used to “accelerate away from defenders”.
He then changed his mind and said: “Give him ten out of ten and add two to that. Give him 12 out of ten!”
Torres would rise up through the ranks over the years and by the time he was a teenager, he was hot property. He would win the Player of the Tournament award in an elite U15 tournament for European clubs and his family was also approached by an Arsenal scout. But Brinas was more worried about losing him to derby rivals Real Madrid.
“I had to stay close to him,” Brinas said, according to Daily Mail. “I was practically his shadow whenever we went to any big tournaments as we were afraid Real Madrid would steal him.” Torres would soon become an Atletico Madrid player and spent five fruitful seasons with the senior team before making the £20m move to Liverpool.
This isn’t the only shirt he has received from Torres. Brinas has one more hanging on his wall.
“Fernando sent me the Liverpool shirt which he wore when he scored his first hat-trick for them.” HIs first hat-trick for Liverpool was against Reading in September 2007. “It was typical of him to remember me. He wrote on the front: ‘My friend Manolo - thanks for everything you have given me’.
“It was the message that really got to me,” Brinas explained. “A lot of ex-players give you a signed shirt with the typical “with affection” and then the signature. This was a really heartfelt message and I will not be taking the shirt down.”