Kop Legends

Legend – Fernando Torres


Fernando-Torres 7Fernando Torres joined Atletico Madrid’s youth academy in 1995 and within three years he would be heralded as the most talented player of his age in Europe. After impressing at the Nike Cup youth tournament in 1998, he was named the best U14 player on the continent and his promise was rewarded with a professional contract a year later. Great things were expected of the then 15 year old and after playing in the B side for a couple of years, he made his debut in the Segunda division for Atletico against Leganes in May 2001. He scored his first professional goal a week later against Albacete with the Madrid team narrowly missing out on promotion to La Liga.

Torres started the 2001/02 season as first choice striker and he scored 6 goals in 33 appearances as Atletico returned to the top flight of Spanish football. Although his goal tally was not staggeringly high, at 17 years of age he was still learning the game and establishing himself in first team reckoning. The talent was clearly there for the Spaniard to improve. Such an improvement came in his first season in La Liga as he scored 13 goals in a season which saw the Madrid club finish eleventh on their return to the top league. His second year in La Liga would, however, establish Torres as a superstar as he netted 19 league goals in 35 appearances, making him the league’s joint third highest goalscorer and giving him his international debut. The 2003/04 season also saw the wonderkid named as Atletico captain, a tremendous honour for any player but particularly so considering Torres was only 19 at the time.

The sky seemed the limit for the youngster, helping Atletico to a seventh place finish in his breakthrough season in 2004, just missing out on a UEFA Cup spot, while in following seasons with the club he scored 13 in 2005/2006 and 14 league goals during his final season in Spain. Such performances for both club and country led to growing speculation of a move away from Atletico with both Chelsea and Manchester United interested in the striker. An indication of his allegiances however came in May 2007 when in a game between Atletico and Real Sociedad, Torres revealed the phrase “You’ll Never Walk Alone” on the inside of his captain’s armband. With new American owners, Liverpool wanted to make a marquis signing and the club splashed the cash on the 23 year old, spending over £20million on the player with Luis Garcia going in the opposite direction.

Although Torres had scored 91 in 214 games for Atletico, his goal ratio was less than one in every two games and some felt he was not a natural finisher, but he laid these doubts to rest on his home debut for Liverpool against Chelsea. He scored the first goal as he wonderfully dropped his shoulder and showed his remarkable pace by easing past a defender before slotting the ball into the far-corner of the net. He announced himself onto the Premier League scene and over the next two and half years, Torres would become a cult figure on Merseyside. He went on to score successive hat-tricks against Middlesbrough and West Ham in his debut season helping him to a magnificent total of 33 goals by the end of the 2007/08 campaign. He scored many crucial goals in the season, especially in Europe including a fantastic strike in the Champions League in the San Siro against Inter Milan as well as fantastic goals in the quarter and semi-finals against Arsenal and Chelsea. His total of 24 league goals over tokl Ruud van Nistelrooy’s overseas record for goals scored in a debut season and remarkably only three of them came away from home. He had a stunning record at Anfield, which included scoring in eight successive home matches, a record only matched by Roger Hunt and a run that included two successive hat-tricks. There was certainly no surprise when he was named Fan’s Player of the Year at the end of the season, and although he had no winner’s medals to show for the campaign, prospects looked good for the 2008/09 campaign.

His second season in England was however a stop-start season as persistent injuries hampered his efforts as Liverpool attempted to end their 20 year drought for a league title. By the turn of the year he had only scored 5 in 16 matches but goals against Everton, Manchester City and Real Madrid as well as two thrilling late goals against Chelsea helped him to 17 goals in 39 appearances by the end of the season.

In the close season before the 2009/10 campaign, Torres signed a new contract and his early season form was very good, scoring a hat-trick in the 6-1 hammering of Hull City, helping him to five goals and a player of the month award for September. Injuries have however blighted Torres’s season once again and it certainly hasn’t helped Liverpool as they have struggled to replicate the form they had last season. Torres did however reach a milestone on the 29th of December 2009 as his late winner against Aston Villa made him the fastest player in Liverpool’s history to reach 50 league goals for the club. Let’s hope there are many more to come from ‘El Nino.’

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