Liverpool Lore: A look back at “El Nino”, Fernando Torres

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: Fernando Torres of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield on January 26, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: Fernando Torres of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield on January 26, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /

Liverpool have had a long lineage of highly successful forwards in their storied history. Names like Fowler, Dalglish, Owen and Rush. All of them are unique in their own way. However, another name, Fernando Torres sparks a different feeling amongst supporters.

The Summer of 2007 saw Liverpool trying to recover from a gut-punching loss in the Champions League Final to AC Milan.

The first step in their recovery process was bringing over a Spanish striker who had already captained Atletico Madrid as a teenager. Liverpool paid £20.2 million to bring Torres to England. Looking back, that was only a pittance of what he would mean to the club.

When thinking of a “Prime Torres”, fans fondly go back to blistering pace and power. A clear joy on his face as he tortured Premier League defenders who counted the seconds until they could see him leave the stadium.

While he was in a Reds shirt, Torres took his finishing to another level. He gave credit to Rafa Benitez in a 2016 interview on Spanish radio station Cadena Cope;

With Benitez, I reached a level I perhaps never dreamed of.

If he enjoyed his time with Benitez, his link up with the iconic Steven Gerrard was something dreams were made of.

Gerrard would send through a sublime through ball that Torres would explode past the backline and latch onto before confidently dispatching it into goal. They were one of the most fearsome duos in all of Europe together.

He hit the ground running during that 2007-08 season as he bagged 33 goals in all competitions in addition to setting up a further 5 via assists.

Liverpool finished 4th that season while also making the Champions League Semifinals. The ensuing summer, Torres showed his worth to the world as he spearheaded the Spain attack at Euro 2008.

The sensational Spaniard would score the winning goal in the European Final as Spain ended their decades long drought for a major tournament victory. His power and pace setting up the deft finish as El Nino truly had arrived.

Following such a meteoric rise to stardom, a lot of players would fall back to reality as they began to rest on their laurels. However, Torres wanted nothing to do with that.

He carried this momentum into the 2008-09 season as he almost dragged Liverpool to the Premier League title as they finished 2nd. Along the way, there were many memorable moments such as the 4-1 dismantling of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Injuries became a little to common during the latter stages of his Liverpool tenure. However, whenever he stepped on the field, there was no questioning his abilities.

He made 32 appearances in all competitions during the 2009-10 season but still scored 22 goals with 4 assists.

However, despite his best efforts, Liverpool were beginning to struggle and slide down the table as they followed up the exciting Runner-Up finish with a bland 7th.

The Chelsea rumors had been swirling for a few years and Reds fans were definitiley feeling uneasy. Former Co-Owner Tom Hicks at the time said the club would not sell Torres at any price.

Entering, the 2010-11 season Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson reiterated that the club had no ambitions to move their Spanish starlet.

Unfortunately, January 2011 saw the Blues submit a £40 million bid that Liverpool rejected. However, Torres had finally had his head turned by the project at Stamford Bridge. Who at the time, were trending up while the Reds were languishing.

The day after Liverpool rejected the offer, Torres put in his transfer request. This would ultimately force the club’s hand and they pulled the trigger on a £50 million deal.

At the time, this was the most expensive British transfer ever. However, while the club made a healthy £30 million profit on Torres, selling a World Class forward at the prime age of 26 to your direct rivals was a tough pill to swallow.

The club knew investment was required so they used the money raised from the Torres deal to bring in Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. While Carroll would turn out be a £35 million flop, Suarez would go on to become a club legend himself up top.

It was a smooth transition for Liverpool going from the Spaniard to the Uruguayan. It was not as smooth for Torres as he adjusted to life in London.

He was a shell of himself as he was still a solid contributor of goals and assists, it never clicked for him like it did at Anfield.

Torres’ time at Liverpool was shorter than most would have wanted. However, on a personal level, he absolutely maximized his time in Red. The club allowed him to be himself and raised his game to a World Class level that he would not reach again.

Next. Liverpool Lore: Looking Back At Daniel Agger And Where He Ended Up. dark

He is firmly entrenched as one of the best Forwards to ever play at Liverpool. He’s a minor case of “What if?”. How many more records could he have shattered?

He made 141 appearances for Liverpool while scoring 81 goals with 20 assists. Torres showed out more for Chelsea (172 times) and yet still scored 36 fewer goals.

Even with the rough way that he left the club, he is still remembered fondly. There were few strikers in the world that could match El Nino at the height of his powers.

Liverpool and Torres were a match made in heaven until they weren’t. However, the meteoric rise he had at Liverpool will have the Spaniard firmly entrenched among the pantheon of Reds greats.