Roman Torres is a Panamanian hero. Scoring an 88th winner in their final qualifying game against Costa Rica, the 32-year-old secured his nations first ever appearance at a World Cup finals.
The central defender had no right to be as advanced as he found himself in that now legendary fixture. Peeling off the shoulder of the last Tico defender, Torres smashed the ball home igniting scenes of unheralded joy around the Estadio Rommel Fernández.
With 108 appearances, there is so much more to Torres’ international career than that winning goal back in October. Let’s take a look at the Seattle Sounders defender in more detail…
Hampered by a thigh injury suffered on April 22, Torres has had a frustrating month in the MLS. His Sounders side won the fixture 3-1 against Minnesota United, however, it was clear that this injury would sideline him for a considerable time after it was assessed post-match.
Torres has since returned to Colombia to visit the doctor who helped him recover from an ACL tear back in 2015; he has played a majority of his career in the northwest of South America, at clubs including La Equidad, Junior, Atletico Nacional and Millonarios.
Torres has been included in Panama's provisional World Cup squad, with the 32-year-old expected to make a full recovery in time for Russia. Panama plays Norway on June 6 in their only friendly before the World Cup, however, Torres is unlikely to be risked.
With six players in the Panama squad sitting on over 100 caps, Roman Torres' 110 international appearances don't stand out as much as they would in any other squad. The Panamanians are littered with experience from top to bottom, however, none have quite reached the levels of stardom that Torres has.
Ten goals over eight years have also added to the defender's acclaim. Not only is he a goal-scoring defender, but the Sounders man tends to strike most when it matters, an invaluable quality to bolster any sides attacking artillery.
At 6ft 2in and built like a bodybuilder, the pace of Torres is underrated in the heart of the Panama defence. His disciplinary record also underlines his professionalism: just 17 booking in his 110 caps is a respectable return, especially when considering Panama will often find their backs against the wall in a majority of fixtures.
Torres is expected to start in the heart of the Panamanian defence in a group involving two tricky assignments. England and Belgium may have a history of failures at major tournaments, however, both European sides target speed and fluidity against this aging defence, with a heavy swing in goals crucial for the eventual group winners.
As we've seen, Torres likes to wander, however, with Panama expected to play extremely deep in their fixtures against England and Belgium, the defender may get his chance to cascade down the field in their final group match against Tunisia.
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Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss Group B in the World Cup for Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.
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