By Harry Ewbank – @HreEwbank
Fernando Torres this week announced his retirement, ending an 18-year glittering career most could only dream of.
Once a cult figure on Merseyside, the 35-year-old now plies his trade in Japan and prepares for his last game with Sagan Tosu on August 23rd.
In Liverpool, the Spaniard wowed fans on a weekly basis during a four-year spell in which he was idolised and adored. Although his time with the Reds ended on a sour note – a £50million move to Premier League Rivals Chelsea helping fuel the fire – fans can look back with fond memories now his spell bounding career is coming to a close.
The young Spaniard made an instant impact on arrival at Anfield in 2007, reaching 50 Premier League goals in just 74 games – a stat only recently matched by Mohamed Salah.
In his first season at the club he also managed to score 24 goals, becoming the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler in 1996 to score 20+ goals in a league season.
The fact of the matter is at his peak ‘El Niño’ was a genius at work. The blonde tints, the long-sleeved shirts, white ankle tape, and a pair of Nike T90 boots – an iconic image, and enough to give the likes of Nemanja Vidic sleepless nights!
It was against rivals such as United and Chelsea where Torres was at his prime.
In the 2008/09 season, the forward scored both home and away against the Red Devils. “The mail man has delivered for Liverpool, just as they needed it most”, bellowed Steve Hunter as Torres scored at Anfield, encapsulating his worth to Liverpool’s title challenge that season.
Sadly, these hopes and dreams never came to fruition. Torres would look for trophies elsewhere.
Chelsea come calling
It’s as if the move was written in the stars…
Torres, who had put the blues to the sword on numerous occasions, was yet another player Chelsea had splashed the cash on to steal from rivals. His debut goal against Chelsea in 2007 seemed a long time ago and the views of adoring Liverpool fans quickly turned to sadness and hatred.
And those who questioned the move were probably right to regarding his own career. That season he had only score nine goals for Liverpool and he would never reignite the goalscoring prowess that had made him one of the most feared strikers in Europe.
Nevertheless, the one thing on any winner’s mind is trophies – and that’s exactly what Chelsea gave him. It took him 14 games to register a goal, although such figures were erased from the fans memories as he helped Chelsea to an FA Cup and Champions League double in his first full season with the club.
A Europa League triumph would follow the next season under the leadership of Rafael Benitez, completing an impressive collection of honours at club and international level.
In fact, he retires from the game as one of the most decorated there has been in terms of his collection of trophies. Alongside his European triumphs with the London club, El Niño won European and World titles with Spain.
Forgive and forget?
For some it may be difficult to ever forget the transfer that ruined a glorious love story, a transfer that is potentially more painful in the memory than any other in recent years.
Going to direct rivals in Chelsea also made it harder to comprehend, on the other hand, looking back they were always going to be more lucrative and successful for any player thinking of making the move.
It’s safe to say though over the years, despite the way he left, Torres has earned the utmost respect from many Liverpool fans and general football fans alike and can be remembered for the joyous moments he gave fans across the world over the years.