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My Favourite Player #19 - Fernando Torres

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Mr Dilkington:

'His armband proved he was a red, Torres, Torres, you'll never walk alone it said, Torres, Torres, we bought the lad from sunny Spain, he gets the ball he scores again, Fernando Torres Liverpool's number 9'

Liverpool fans young and old sang that song on a weekly basis. For the younger fans it was a war cry for their new found hero. The player they all wanted on the back of their shirt for Christmas. For the aul' arses, Torres was a throwback to the great centre forwards of Liverpool's past. Between Hunt, St John, Rush, and Fowler, all legends in their own right, Liverpool had seen some good strikers. Crouch was a good servant, Morientes was a great striker who never really found his feet, Baros... for all he frustrated, and boy did he frustrate, was imperious in the run to Istanbul; he'll always have that. There was always a sense that Liverpool lacked a really great number 9 though. Michael Owen's departure in 2004 left a hole, and finally, in 2007 it was filled - and them some.

The ball broke to Steven Gerrard in midfield, the Liverpool skipper took one peak, and he knew what he had to do. With the outside of his right foot, Gerrard played through Fernando Torres on his Anfield debut. Tal Ben Haim had it under control it seemed; just seconds later, Torres was sliding in adulation after scoring his first Liverpool goal. Despite being in a position with seemingly a lot of work to do, Torres made it look the complete opposite. The Spanish striker simply slowed his run down to nearly a stand still, Ben Haim thought that was his chance to adjust... but an absolutely staggering change of pace meant Torres was past the Israeli centre back before he even knew it. Goal. Gerrard assist. That was to become quite familiar to Liverpool fans...

The end of the 2007/08 season contained  33 Fernando Torres goals in total. Torres took the record for most goals scored by a foreigner in their debut season, beating the previous record held by Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Torres also equalled the record for goals in consecutive games at Anfield, sharing the record with legendary striker Roger Hunt.

Despite suffering with injuries during the 2008/09 season, Torres, when he played, was still a formidable striker who no defender enjoyed playing against. Fernando Torres could not be bullied; he couldn't be beaten in a race; he was aggressive and accurate with his head; and above all he was one of the most clinical finishers in Europe. Within four days, Torres had opened the scoring against both Real Madrid and Man United, and not only that, Torres had embarrassed both. The two self proclaimed biggest clubs in the World. Torres seemed to glide across the pitch. Without the ball he didn't seem to possess searing pace, but with the ball Torres was an irrepressible force of nature. There was a certain arrogance in his play, against both Madrid and United. It was as if he was saying, 'whatever you can do, I can do faster, and better'. He laid down the gauntlet to those two teams and many others; stop me if you can. Invariably, they couldn't. At the time of the Manchester United game, Nemanja Vidic was widely regarded as the World's best centre back, by the time the full time whistle had been blown, the Serb was a broken man. Never before had he been out thought, out fought, and owned in such a comprehensive manner. But that was Fernando Torres, he made a habit out of embarrassing even the best of centre backs.

The 09/10 season proved to be a rocky ride for Torres and Liverpool; the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid had more severe consequences than anyone could have predicted, and the whole team suffered as a result. The fact that Torres still managed to end the season with 18 Premier League goals once again proved his ability as an individual. Despite the team suffering, El Nino notched time and time again. The season ended in disappointment as Liverpool finished 7th, and things only got worse for Torres when Rafa Benitez was dismissed by the then owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Benitez proved to be a massive bargaining chip for Liverpool in the effort to persuade Torres to leave his hometown club back in 2007; his sacking could perhaps be pinpointed as the beginning of the end for 'Liverpool's number 9'.

Torres returned to Liverpool with a World Cup winners medal, although his form during the tournament itself could at best be described as patchy. Liverpool started the 2010/11 season as they finished the last. New manager Roy Hodgson failed to replicate the form his Fulham side showed the season previous, and soon Liverpool were staring into the abyss. January brought about the sacking of Hodgson and the return of a club legend in Kenny Dalglish, but it wasn't enough to convince Torres to stay, and on the last day of the transfer window he was sold for a British record 50 million pounds.

My three favourite Torres goals:

3. Torres vs Marseille: Liverpool found themselves in a must win Champions League game against French giants Marseille. Despite picking up just 1 point from a possible 9 in the opening 3 games, Liverpool had hammered Beşiktaş and Porto to put themselves in with a chance of qualifying for the latter stages. Just after the 10 minute mark, with Liverpool already holding a 1-0 lead, Fernando Torres picked the ball up inside the left side of Marseille's 18 yard box; with two drops of the shoulder, Torres wiped out two of the home side's defenders before slotting the ball coolly past Steve Mandanda. It was Torres' signature move. Inside left channel, shape to shoot with the right foot, only to close his whole body up and change direction in an instance.

2. Torres vs Arsenal: The ball was lofted toward Peter Crouch in the quarter final of the Champions league at Anfield. With the tie delicately poised, any goal would be vital in deciding who would go through to the semi finals. Crouch was well managed and could only let the ball drift over his head. That's all that was needed however, because the ball broke to a certain Fernando Torres. Torres brought the ball down with his chest nicely, but he had a problem; he was facing 360 degrees away from the goal, with a defender touch tight. One touch, two touch, bang! The ball exploded into Manuel Almunia's net. Torres' countryman didn't even move. Phillipe Senderos didn't either. It was just so quick, so devastating, and so unexpected. Even the Kop paused before exploding into joyous chaos. It was akin to a boxer being up against the ropes one second, then with two quickfire counter punches and a haymaker it was lights out. That was the beauty of Fernando Torres encapsulated in one great goal.

1. Torres vs Blackburn: Jamie Carragher hoofed lifted the ball toward Torres, who had made a small and seemingly insignificant run from in to out. Torres, stuck between two Blackburn defenders, collected the ball on his chest, facing the centenary stand, he let the ball bounce once; then swivelled and unleashed a stunning right foot volley into the far top corner. By this point, anything he did lacked shock value, because the Liverpool fans had become accustomed to his moments of sheer brilliance. Fernando Torres made unbelievable things look ordinary.

The thing that sticks out most to me about Torres' time at Liverpool was the raw excitement you got when he received the ball. There were other players who I quietly admired, such as Alonso, and even Sami Hyypia and Pepe Reina, but no one could match the sheer excitement that Fernando Torres provided whenever he turned out in a red shirt. Whatever has gone on in more recent times, I'll never forget the way in which he made me feel like a fan. And for that, thank you Fernando.

I'll always remember a quote regarding the scouse musician Lee Mavers that resonates with my understanding of Fernando Torres. Mavers was one of the most talented singer songwriters of his generation, and The La's debut album will go down as one of the best from the Britpop era. After that though, Mavers fell off the map.

"Although he didn't burn for long, he burned so bright".

If you want I'll sell you a life story
About a man who's at loggerheads with his past all the time
He's alive and living in purgatory
Now he's doing time
In the back of his mind

The 5th Benitle:
Some great memories. Nice one mate.

I cannot forgive him for breaking my younger brother in laws heart.

The only positive of his departure was that I discovered RAWK so every cloud has a silver lining

That aside he did provide with some scintillating memories so I'll give him that. Lovely write up though on a player who will forever be remembered more for how he left than for what he did when he was here.

Bitter and twisted Harinder  ;D

The 5th Benitle:
On the 19th day...a man who left us under a cloud but provided us with plenty of amazing moments. Thanks Dilks for a great piece on Senor Torres.


Great that

My heart skipped a beat whenever he was near the ball !!


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