Written by: James McHale @jamesmchale2607
While the Spaniard’s legacy at Liverpool certainly isn’t what it was during the height of his time in Merseyside, Torres was a generational talent and we were blessed to be able to watch him tear the Premier League to bits. Here’s everything you mightn’t have known about Liverpool’s former talismanic forward…
Torres’ interest in football began at a young age when he was introduced to Atletico Madrid by his grandfather, a dedicated follower of the team. A talented player even during his early years, Torres played amateur football for various local teams from the age of 5 but he wasn’t always a prolific striker… Torres often alternated between playing as a striker and as a goalkeeper when he was a young lad!
His obsession with Atletico was kick-started when he was 8 when his moaning and yearning to see the side’s trophy collection finally paid off and his father finally relented. This seemed to kick-start something inside the young Spaniard and at the age of 10 he scored phenomenal 55 goals in a single season and in doing so earning himself a trial for Atletico’s esteemed youth system. This was when his footballing career really started to accelerate.
A first contract at 14 turned heads around Madrid, a reward for his stellar performances at the under-15 Nike Cup, and within 2 years Torres was thrust into the senior side. His first senior goal came during the 00/01 season when Torres was aged just 17 years old and the following year he was the wonder kid who helped restore his boyhood club back to Spain’s top flights after 2 years of obscurity. Torres’ meteoric rise continued and in 2003 he was handed both his senior Spanish international debut, during a friendly against neighbours Portugal, and the captain’s armband. By the time he was handed the armband ages 19 he had already completed 3 seasons at Atletico and during that time he had scored a total of 22 goals in 75 games across all competitions, not bad for a teenager.
The following 4 seasons were arguably some of the best of Torres’ career and he went from strength to strength and it’s no coincidence that during that time Atletico were punching above their weight with their mediocre squad, consistently finishing mid-table but progressing well in the domestic cup competitions. These 4 seasons saw his underperforming Atletico side continually rely on the youngster but he seemed to relish such responsibility, scoring a further 69 goals in 169 games across all competitions
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Whilst not yet being as prolific as he would later become at Liverpool, Torres was doing all the right things and a move aboard seemed inevitable, especially after it was discovered that his captain’s armband had Liverpool’s famous “YNWA” printed on the inside.
Torres’ consistently good form for Atletico, and his ruthless performances at the 2006 World Cup, pushed Liverpool’s much maligned former American owners take a gamble on the youngster, under orders from Torres’ fellow countryman Rafa Benítez, and in 2007 Liverpool announced the signing of the Spaniard for a then club record fee of £20m. A lot of pressure was placed upon his shoulders from the moment he touched down in Merseyside but now he wasn’t the only one and the burden on his shoulders was shared by his new, higher calibre, teammates.
Torres’ first season at Liverpool saw him smash in 33 goals in 46 games, a career best, and whilst he would never repeat such an astonishing feat, he would on to score consistently and continue to leave Anfield spectators in awe. His time in Merseyside saw the frontman score 81 goals in 142 games across all competitions, consolidating his status as one of Liverpool’s greatest forwards and thereby winning the adoration of the fans in the process. Colossal goals against Chelsea, Everton, and Manchester United, as well as strong performances in Europe, was bound to attract interest and ultimately it did with Torres departing midway through the 10/11 season to join Liverpool’s domestic rivals Chelsea for a record £50m fee.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that Torres’ career nosedived after departing from Liverpool, but he certainly struggled to recapture his form and struggled to find a system suited to his strengths. Torres wasn’t bad at Chelsea; he scored a total of 45 goals in 172 games, but he always looked like an outsider looking in and he struggled to consistently perform across full campaigns. Loan moves to both Milan and back Atletico twice, before he joined them permanently in 2016, did show some promise but by this point Torres had lost that electric pace and his overall game intelligence seemed to have dwindled. After departing his boyhood club for a second time in 2018 to end his career in Japan, Torres has really struggled and whilst he has shown flashes of his former self, he has only scored 4 goals in 22 appearances.
Regardless of how you may choose to remember ‘El Nino’, many Liverpool fans still hold the Spaniard in high regard and his contributions to that Liverpool side were immense. We may never know what unfolded behind the scenes during his final months at Anfield but it would be safe to assume that Torres would have never wished to hurt the fans who idolised him during his somewhat short stint in Merseyside.
Article by James McHale @jamesmchale2607