For many Liverpool supporters Fernando Torres was more than just a footballer, he was their hero. The sensational Spaniard was a shining light for a number of years, but with the passage of time it’s easy to forget just how good he actually was.
His electrifying pace matched his eye for goal, which made for one of Europe’s most deadly No.9s. He was loved at Anfield and will go down in the history books not only as one of our greatest ever strikers, but one of the best to have played the professional sport.
In his four years on Merseyside he wrote himself into Anfield folklore with his infectious skill and flair. People were unable to take their eyes off him when he was on the pitch — one of those pairs of eyes belonged to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
After years of trying and failing to get his hands-on Liverpool’s other star at the time, our beloved Steven Gerrard, the Russian looked to Torres instead. Having shown interest in the Spaniard during his Atlético Madrid days he finally got his man in January 2011, a time when Liverpool FC was enduring some of its darkest days.
His departure was a painful one. His last goals for the club came in a 3-0 win at Wolves but, as good as he was for so many years, there was a feeling that it was the right time for him to go.
He was never quite the same player after suffering knee injury in 2010. There were the odd sparks, with his Anfield brace against Chelsea coming to mind, but he was never the free-scoring, free-flowing forward that we saw in his first seasons in the Premier League.
The less said about his spell at Chelsea is probably for the better, but it is difficult to truly understand the bitterness shown towards him for leaving. Yes, he joined a rival, but can you blame him for wanting to walk away at such a time?
As a club we were a mess, to put it bluntly. When he left, the Reds had only just managed to pull themselves into the top half of the table having spent the first six months of the campaign hovering above the relegation zone.
Torres was fresh off the back of becoming a World Cup winner who needed to be playing Champions League football, something Liverpool could no longer offer him. The level of players we brought in were simply not of the necessary standard.
That said, Liverpool was probably the last club to see the very best of the Spain international — his impressive record of 81 goals in 142 appearances speaks for itself.
Torres had a wide variety of goals in his locker. He could finish superbly with both feet as well as with his famed aerial ability. In 2009 he was considered the best striker in the world with no-one close to matching him, causing nightmares for the best defenders in world football — and Nemanja Vidić.
Like what you see? Get it for free!
Get all of our content sent straight to your inbox – on the house.
Some would still argue that we’ve never properly replaced El Niño. As good as our current attack of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah is, it lacks an out-and-out goalscorer — a role that Torres naturally filled in his time at Anfield. When the ball fell to him in the box you knew what the outcome would be. Luis Suárez might have been just as good as the Spaniard, but brought excess baggage with him.
For so many Kopites he is still and will all ways be up there with the best strikers ever to have pulled on the famous red shirt. To be named on such a list alongside the likes of Suárez, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Michael Owen, and Robbie Fowler just shows how talented Torres was in his prime.
It’s easy to forget the good times and remember his heart-breaking departure, but it’s worth taking a look at videos of him and reminiscing about the player we once had — his goal against Blackburn at home is a personal favourite of mine.
I’m sure I won’t be the only one excited to see him return to the Anfield pitch once again after this pandemic is over for the rearranged legends game against Barcelona.