Representing Spain at Euro 2020 had an air of inevitability about it for Ferran Torres.
By the time he won his first full cap, he had already played 47 times at various levels from Under-17 to Under-21 as his steady rise through the international ranks continued.
Torres was part of the Spain side that drew 2-2 with England in the European Under-17 Championship final in 2017, with La Roja grabbing an equaliser six minutes into added time.
Spain went on to win on penalties, against an England side that had City's Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho in it – and it had been Foden’s goal that had looked set to win the tournament for Steve Cooper’s side.
That was in May 2017 – five months later, Torres and Spain would again come up against England in the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India, but a Foden-inspired Three Lions would gain revenge with an emphatic 5-2 win.
Both Foden and Torres had shone for their country, but neither could have imagined that they would become team-mates at City just three years later.
Torres had been signed by hometown club Valencia aged only six and would make his senior debut at the age of 17 with his La Liga bow against Eibar making him the first player born in the 2000s to play in the Spanish top tier.
And the teenager with the golden touch continued to shine and while he had watched future team-mate Foden win the Golden Ball at the U17 World Cup final, it was Torres who stole the headlines at the European Under 19 Championships in 2019.
Torres struck the winning penalty in the semi-final against France, then bagged both goals in the final as Spain beat Portugal 2-0 in Armenia to be crowned European champions as his meteoric rise continued.
"If you speak well of us, it's for a reason," said Torres after the triumph.
“We've demonstrated it on the pitch by winning the Under-17 and Under-19 European Championships, as well as being runners-up at the Under-17 World Cup, which is not something to sniff at. I think we are a generation that has made its mark.
“We all know what kind of tournament this is; it is a showcase at both an individual and group level, and it is a good opportunity to show clubs that you are a top player."
His displays for the Spanish Under-17s and Under-19s had seen Torres regularly linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid, but Valencia were his boyhood club and he was happy to sign a long-term contract with The Bats in October 2017.
Torres became a first team regular in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons and his playing style was likened by some to popular Spain winger Joaquin, who won 51 caps between 2002 and 2007.
For Torres, who prefers a simple life away from football, it can’t have been easy settling into a new country and a new league. Family-orientated with a love of his two dogs who would regularly sport the colours of Valencia on his walks with them on the beach, he joined City for the start of the 2020/21 campaign.
Aside from the La Liga giants, Juventus and Liverpool had also been linked with the youngster, but after chatting with friends and family, he chose City and the opportunity to play under Pep Guardiola. He also inherited the No.21 shirt that compatriot David Silva had graced for the previous decade.
At the time, he said: “I am so happy to be joining City. Every player wants to be involved in attacking teams and Manchester City are one of the most attacking in world football.
“Pep encourages a really open, aggressive style, which I love, and he is a manager with a proven track record of improving players. To have him overseeing my development is a dream.
City have won plenty of trophies in the last 10 years and I hope I can play a role in continuing that success.
Torres had been a City player for just 16 days when he was named in the Spain senior squad for the first time and made his debut against Germany last September, playing his part in a move that led to a last-minute equaliser.
Three days after that, Torres had his first international goal for La Roja, scoring in a 4-0 win over Oleksandr Zinchenko’s Ukraine, though the best was yet to come.
Just a month later, in a UEFA Nations League clash with Germany, Torres scored on 33, 55 and 71 minutes to complete a stunning treble for his country in a 6-0 victory that handed the Germans their heaviest competitive defeat.
All three goals were those of a player with a natural ability to finish – something that had not been particularly evident at Valencia where he had scored just nine in 97 appearances. It was also a performance that virtually guaranteed Torres a place in Luis Enrique’s squad for Euro 2020.
At City, Torres was showing signs that he was finding his feet quickly and though his first campaign would be one of promise, he didn’t have a long run of games in the first team at any stage to perhaps find his best rhythm, though was always in and around the matchday squad.
Perhaps the game that would have excited City fans the most was the 4-3 win at Newcastle, where Torres showed his full portfolio of finishing abilities as he bagged a hat-trick that included an outrageous back-flick goal that won the Club’s Goal of the Season award.
Guardiola has hinted more than once that he may use Torres as a more central forward in the future.
"Yeah, he can be a No.9,” said Pep. “We will use him, we used him and he was brilliant. His rhythm, especially defensively he has improved a lot. The game at Palace, he made a turn in his season - he was so good. The movement he makes as a striker, for the third goal against Newcastle, it hits the bar and where it goes, he knew it.
The smell, the strikers know, intuitively where it will arrive. He has this talent.
But his hopes of forcing his way into the Champions League final starting XI were hit in the next game when Joao Cancelo’s red card forced a formation change that saw Torres substituted as a result with barely 10 minutes on the clock.
As expected, his 13 goals in 36 games for City – a more than decent return - won him a place in Spain’s squad for the Euros and he has so far featured in the opening games against Sweden and Poland. If La Roja can beat Slovakia on Wednesday afternoon, both Torres and Foden will dream of facing each other in yet another major final - this time at senior level.
Whether that happens or not, Ferran Torres looks set for a long and distinguished international career, either as a winger or as a striker - or maybe a bit of both.