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Remembering Fernando Torres - The Red Debate
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Oh, Fernando. El Niño. My favourite LFC import who also gave me one of my worst LFC moments when he left.

With Salah recently matching Torres’ record for the fastest Liverpool player to hit 50 goals, it provided a nice throwback to one of the greatest strikers of our time.

It’s all about Salah these days, but back then it was all about Torres: The man who forged an almost telepathic relationship with our very own Stevie G from the moment he arrived from Atletico Madrid in the Summer of 2007.

Finishing with an impressive 81 goals in 142 games, you can only imagine the despair from Gerrard when Torres handed in his transfer request and left for rival club, Chelsea, in January 2011. It was despair shared by the majority of Liverpool fans, myself included, who felt betrayed that the broody but incredibly talented Spaniard had chosen to force the club’s hand to leave.

But let’s start from the beginning…

Torres signed at the age of 22, having been the top scorer for Atletico in the previous five seasons, plus being awarded the captaincy since the age of 19 – an impressive feat.

He settled quicker than you could say The Kop. Who can forget the way he effortlessly ghosted by poor Tal Ben Haim before calmly slotting the ball past Petr Cech in his home debut against Chelsea? It was a sign of things to come – power, pace, effortless class and a goal from his first Gerrard assist.

In his first season at the club, the remarkable partnership blossomed, sprinkled with genuine moments of individual magic. Between them, Gerrard and Torres scored 54 times that year, carrying the club to a 4th-place finish and a Champions League semi final.

The following year (08/09) was the year Liverpool should have ended all those years of waiting for a league title. Rafa’s Reds were rampant but were ultimately let down by the number of frustrating draws they played out. Coincidently, due to injuries, Gerrard and Torres only started together a mere 12 times that season. Imagine what would have been if they had played more often together.

Despite ongoing injury troubles, Torres continued to score at a ruthless rate until he left the club. However, his final months were tumultuous, not just for him but for the club. Rafa was long gone, the Roy Hodgson reign was thankfully over and Kenny Dalglish had taken the reigns. There had been a seventh-place finish and key players such as Xabi Alonso had departed. It’s easy to see why he became unsettled. The allure of Chelsea and potential silverware was a heady mix.

A failure to deliver trophies during his stint at the club hangs over his head, but his legacy remains strong. Fond memories of Torres turning world-class United centre back Nemanja Vidic into a Sunday league defender will never be forgotten.

Time has healed the rift between Torres and fans like myself. His final days were indeed sour, but ‘Fernando Torres, Liverpool’s number nine‘ is a song that will live long.

Players like Torres come around once in a generation. It is incredible to think that post-Torres we were gifted with a player like Luis Suarez, another once in a lifetime player. And post-Suarez we now have Salah, continuing the trend of superstar Liverpool attackers.

Torres brought the glory days back. The club moved on from the likes of Milan Baros and co. and hasn’t looked back.

Me idolising Torres

I asked Tom about his thoughts on Torres:

08 FIFA World Player of the Year award with Messi & Ronaldo

There aren’t many finer sights than your new big money number 9 scoring for the first time; the first of what you hope to yourself at the time will be many more. Well, the goal he scores at Anfield in August 2007 against Chelsea where he ties Tal Ben Haim in knots and puts it in the corner past Cech was that to a tee. I loved that goal & I loved Fernando Torres with every ounce of my being. Even down to the detail of him having YNWA inside his captain’s armband at Atleti following the death of his boyhood mate – a Liverpool fan. The Kop idolised him & he ‘got it’, or so it seemed at the time. For two seasons he was one of the very best in the business, so exciting to watch. He properly came alive in the Champions League too; there are just so many memorable moments & memorable goals. I loved that Rafa side, with Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard & Torres. That week when we stuffed both United and Real Madrid and felt like the best footy team on the planet was something else & he was the absolute business. I’ve largely forgiven him for the manner in which he left. We weren’t going anywhere and seemingly couldn’t give him assurances that we were going to match his ambitions. My deepest regret is that we never saw him and Suarez together, as we’re told was the plan prior to that horrid transfer window when he left. I can still feel that visceral emotion as though it were yesterday.”

And here’s Fernando’s best LFC goals.

Oh Fernando. What a player. Our player.