He has tonnes of ability, class, brilliant composure in front of goal, and electric pace.
Will El Nino become a legend at Anfield and one of liverpool's leading goal-scorers ever? Lets see what the man himself has to say.
Liverpool.- A few hours after extending Liverpool’s stay in the ‘Champions’ with his first two goals in the competition, Fernando Torres talks about his experiences in the city and the club that have got him feeling over the moon.
The city awoke with a hangover, thirsty for water the day after a joyful Wednesday night. It’s already Thursday on the clock in Matthew Street, the street that ends at the doors of The Cavern, the heart of Liverpool. A little bit down the road, in a pub called The Grapes, the last group of supporters still on their feet down the remaining pints of ale left over from the previous night. They propose a toast in hopes that the team qualifies to the knockout stages, for Benitez, for who they’re still singing, and they also toast for a new idol.
A few hours later, a deceptive sun shines over the city, a mirage that fails to appease the frozen winds that force us to find the refuge of the purple seats inside the coffee shop in the Malmaison Hotel, in sight of the Mersey, distraught by the conditions. Fernando Torres orders a cappuccino and reads one of the headlines on an English paper. “Take that to the bank: lethal Fernando Torres shows the value of money”, says The Times.
“Brings to mind some very special moments”, he declares in order to explain the most recent sensations, warm messages from his friends in the mobile phone, his first CL goal, another dream materialized, another station in his journey. “To score in that goal is something…incredible. I don’t know, it’s special. You are on the pitch, see ‘The Kop’ and it never ends. It was a special match, with the sort of feelings that you never forget”.
He plays with the wristbands of his black sweater, which has very little in common with his trainers, that are white with green and orange stripes, we all have our own taste. And he speaks, talks about the previous night, of his new city, of the house and car he bought, of his English, of fame, his hobbies…of his life, a life where everything has changed. Everything but himself because Torres, Fernando, is still the same lad. Happier, but the same.
He speaks with devotion about Mascherano, the man that brings balance to a system where five players defend and another five attack, himself in included, top scorer(10) on a different team. “Liverpool are not so well liked in England and that’s it. It’s the team with the most titles, with the most supporters but they haven’t been able to transmit what it is all about”, he says, and those words are useful to explain what has been going on with Benitez these past few days. He says that everything was blown out of proportion, that the tabloids don’t approach 50% of the truth, and that the manager must not leave.
“How is he going to leave? The people yesterday [Wednesday] passed their judgment”. In the past few hours he has tended to every Spanish radio station, all with his usual good manners, the same which have, for the time being, made him avoid the post-match press area. After the match against Porto, he greeted the English reporters. By January, when he feels more comfortable, the language won’t be an obstacle any longer.
‘It’s taken me a while to speak in the dressing room because I’ve been embarrassed to do so’
The reason why this afternoon, Thursday, he has classes with Rob, his professor, “an avid Liverpool supporter”, who visits his home in Woolton, next in line to Pepe Reina’s. “At first I didn’t understand a single word, I was clueless”, and the laughter escapes his mouth, bringing back to mind certain situations and reminding him, again of his team’s goalkeeper. “He’s a w…It’s taken me a while to speak in the dressing room because, every time I tried to in front of the other Spaniards, there was Pepe laughing and taking the p*ss. Of course, I would’ve liked to have seen him when he first arrived!”.
He also laughs because, he says, he’s learning ‘bad’ English, he means the ‘scouser’ accent, unintelligible the first few days, “and on top of that they speak at 2000 words per second. I thought to myself: check out the problems I’m going to cause”. But watching ‘Friends’ in it’s original version- “I already know the dialogues in Spanish so that helps”-and Rob’s recommended lectures have made him “another English lad”. “Now I know I’m saying things the right way”.
He has no alternative. If Benitez catches them speaking Spanish in the dressing room, school rules. “You, over there, and you, the other way”, he says, although it is difficult not to speak Spanish in a place where 12 members of the squad are able to. He dresses next to Gerrard and Voronin, and recalls the first training session, a slap of reality. “I didn’t know what was going on to begin with. And then you find yourself sitting there with your kit on, in a new place and think: ‘kinell!, I’m really here, and this will be my home for many years to come”. So much so that he’s decided to buy a home.
Zenden left the team and Torres kept his house. For various reasons. First, because he liked the area but also because he’s next to Pepe Reina, whom he keeps speaking of, this time in a more serious tone: “Without him my adaptation would not have been the same. He’s always been there for me and when you arrive at a new club that is priceless”. And also because his girlfriend, Olalla, who came with him to Liverpool –and who he admits, has grasped the language better than him- has found in Yolanda, Pepe’s wife, a good friend. Oh, of course, and he also picked a big house with a backyard for ‘Pomo’ and ‘Llanta’.
Those names – “Fit them very well”- refer to the couple of bulldogs he is expecting in a couple of months. The same dogs that he was walking when he received Rafa Benitez’s call. “Here it takes seven months for the dogs to arrive. We have to fill out papers, and have them take blood tests, and then quarantine…it’s a pain” but they will end up with their owner, surely and will enjoy it more relaxed and more calm.
Everything is new. Seven years in Madrid, the learned paths of memory, the customs, the schedules, the troubles, of the press, of the people, impossible to drink a cup of coffee, a pint, absolutely nothing in a public place, if any at all, very few, in Majadahonda. Nothing like this. “I can do things normally, be normal! Here you leave the training session and forget everything until the next day. You can take a walk in the street, go to a shopping centre…”which he already knows by the way, Met Quarter in the centre or the Trafford Center, in the way to Manchester, the biggest in Europe.
He still looks surprised when he recalls the day he realized all these things. “Pepe and I were having dinner at Piccolino, an Italian restaurant. There was a girl who wouldn’t stop looking at us, but when she was done eating she left. Well, when we were leaving, an hour and a half later, the girl was outside at the door waiting for us, freezing to death, with a shirt in her hands for us to sign it. She waited until we were done eating…Incredible”. Specially for someone who was had to leave a shopping centre in Madrid through the back door. “People ask me: do you miss Madrid? And I tell them ‘But Madrid for me was being at home exclusively!’”.
And now it is his and Reina’s but because they choose to. They invite Mikel Arteta to their board game parties, boys against girls, which go all the way til midnight. There are rifts, “although us boys always end up winning”, he says, a fact we were not able to confirm. He eagerly awaits the Christmas season, another discovery for him, his family will arrive on the 25th, his girlfriend’s on New Years, because this platoon get no vacations, because of football and because he will be finishing the intensive course on ‘bricolage’[do-it-yourself] that he’s taking. By force. At the best shops, the furniture is very expensive but they don’t build them at home for you. “They just drop 30 boxes and say go on, build it yourself. Of course, what happens then is that the shelves don’t open all the way, the doors don’t close right…”.
At the beginning of the week he placed a big order at El Corte Ingles, canned goods and such, some ham also, the mandatory food dressings for the Atletico-watching dinners. “Today [on Thursday] we have a dinner to watch the game”, he announces shortly before starting the photo session, shivering in the cold, dying to get in his Audi Q7, picked after the club let him try a Range Rover, an X5, an ML…The Audi has the wheel on the right side, and that is also a problem, although not as big now, “before I would drive down the middle in between the tracks causing scenes…”.
“At the club they are always looking out for you. You only need to focus on football”, and the video recorder goes off while Torres, ‘The Kid’, looks at the video tape recorder and a truck driver honks the horn, while a girl pulls out her mobile phone from inside her car. “Only football”, he insists and he ends by saying: “The Champions League games have a far more beautiful atmosphere, because they’re played at night. Matches like the one yesterday are the types of matches you die to play in. But I’ll add, the match I would most like to play, my best match, is still to come”.