The emotion of a tough, topsy-turvy season was written all over Ferran Torres’ tear-streaked face when he scored at Crystal Palace last month.
The 21-year-old has had a debut season at Manchester City marked by extreme highs - including hat-tricks against Germany and Newcastle - and isolated lows, such as his second Covid infection and a fight to get back into a team that was in supreme form.
And the Spaniard reminded everyone of his ability, and eye for goal, with a smart backheel finish, his first touch after going on as a substitute, as his country blitzed Slovakia 5-0 last night to set up a Euro 2020 lat 16 clash with Croatia on Monday.
Torres has touched the extremes following his bargain £21million move from Valencia last summer, finding it hard to settle in Manchester under Covid restrictions, a stark contrast to his days in Spain when he got away from football by walking his dogs on the beach.
With Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden masking themselves undroppable as City stormed to the Premier League title in the last three months of the campaign, setting a standard that even Raheem Sterling could not match, Torres became a marginal figure for long spells.
But he has ended the season with a remarkable tally of 13 goals in 24 starts and 12 substitute appearances.
And with seven goals in his last 13 international appearances, Torres is living up to his golden boy reputation, if only in the fits and starts you normally associate with a raw talent.
England could do a lot worse than watch his superb hat-trick against Germany if they want to see how to unhinge the Germans in their Euros last-16 clash next week.
In that eye-opening win, Spain exploited the fact that Germany had three midfielders - Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan and Leon Goretzka - who are not defence-minded.
By beating the German press, they opened up acres of space into which Torres and his teammates could run - and they fully punished Joachim Low’s side by hitting the space in behind the one-paced midfield trio and exposing the back four.
And with Torres’ City teammate Rodri exploiting an unusual German weakness at set-pieces with a header from a trademark near-post run in the same game, the blueprint for an England win next week is there to be used.
Torres was the star of that thumping, the heaviest defeat in the German national team’s history.
But he had already shown an eye for goal playing for City, with Guardiola using him in a central role - in the run-up to that international break, Torres had scored four in seven games for City.
Guardiola sought to capitalise on his euphoria at that moment, starting him in the next four City games, and was rewarded with goals against Burnley and Marseille.
And while he was then rotated for the dismal goalless derby at Old Trafford - players never seem to get “dropped” these days - he was soon back in the starting line-up.
In fact, between his heroics for his country in November and Boxing Day, Torres played more minutes than Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden.
He was hardly building momentum, but was playing a full part in Guardiola’s rotation, aimed at keeping an element of freshness about his team - at a point in the season when the Blues woke up and really started to make an assault on top spot.
Then disaster struck. The 4-1 win at Arsenal in the Carabao Cup quarter-final was further evidence that City were waking from their slumberous performances against United and West Brom.
But whilst in the capital, several of the squad contracted Covid and, following the Boxing Day win over Newcastle, in which Torres scored the second goal, it was announced that several first-teamers had returned positive tests.
That forced the postponement of the trip to Everton two days later, and forced Torres - along with Ederson, Tommy Doyle and an unnamed member of staff - to self-isolate, along with Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus, who had already missed the Newcastle game with positive tests.
It was Torres’ second bout of Covid, having been one of the first footballers to contract the virus during the first wave, when it spread like wildfire through Spain.
But this time it was more damaging. Torres was asymptomatic, but the effects of Covid on athletes are still a grey area, with some finding their physical level dropped in the aftermath.
The young Spaniard had been playing a full part in the pre-Christmas hurly-burly, but his playing time almost halved in the dozen games after he returned.
That was partly down to the surging form of Mahrez and Foden, but Torres sometimes cut a forlorn figure. A player who two months earlier had the world at his feet after destroying Germany was now on the periphery at City, his only starts coming in two FA Cup ties against lower league opposition and a home game against doomed Sheffield United.
The goals had also dried up, his late strike at Cheltenham being his only one for City in the first three months of 2021.
The manager wanted to see more from Torres, feeling he lacked aggression with and without the ball.
It again took an international break for him to remind Guardiola of his ability in front of goal, as he started all three of Spain’s World Cup qualifiers in March - and scored in two of them, against Georgia and Kosovo.
That sparked him back into life for the Blues, with five goals in his next six games, including a breathtaking hat-trick at Newcastle that had some earmarking him as a potential successor to Sergio Aguero as the main goalscorer.
Is goal at Palace saw him burst into tears as teammates ran to congratulate him, perhaps a reminder that, for all their wealth, footballers can also find Covid restrictions tough, especially when closeted in a foreign city, away from family and friends.
But Torres had also started to show the extra ingredient Guardiola had demanded, and the manager said after that game: "Ferran has scored a lot of goals, but this was the first game where I saw that he can handle the physicality of the Premier League.
"He was a little boy and now he is a man, when you have this aggression in the Premier League it is good."
Two sharp opportunist goals, added to an incredible twisting backheel volley, in the hat-trick at Newcastle, marked Torres as a natural goalscorer, and the manager recognised he could fill that role in future.
"He can be a No.9,” said Guardiola. “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.
That sent Torres into the Euros in positive mood, but Spain’s slow start saw him hauled off in the goalless draw with Sweden and then brought off the bench as they drew 1-1 with Poland.
With qualification at stake, Torres was again on the bench against Slovakia but went on to score with his first touch, a neat backheel finish as La Roja produced a 5-0 rout to book a last 16 meeting with Croatia.
Whether that cameo performance is enough to book him a place back in the side against the Croats remains to be seen, but Torres has already given notice that his second season for City could be a big one.