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Old 19-04-20, 10:05 AM   #6481
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Can someone post todays Athletic article
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Old 19-04-20, 11:52 AM   #6482
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Has someone justifiably murdered the vole Judas cunt?
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Old 19-04-20, 01:20 PM   #6483
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Originally Posted by Gray View Post
Can someone post todays Athletic article
Couldn't see one

But I did see a story with the most Athletic headline ever:

'A ruthless player who makes a mean jambalaya : Clint Dempsey in untold stories'.
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Old 20-04-20, 04:30 PM   #6484
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For three years Liverpool fans made Fernando Torres feel like a king – then everything changed

Fernando Torres was staring into a cabinet, the rest of his reflection dominated by a set of dark eyes transfixed on the object beyond the glass. Liverpool’s fifth European Cup had been collected in Istanbul six years earlier.

Behind him in the foyer at the club’s Melwood training ground were a group of advisors, several of them new to me. I had known his agent, Antonio Sanz, since Torres’s arrival on Merseyside, when he was his main man, but over the next three years the entourage had grown. The player was expressionless, alone in his thoughts. Those working on his behalf all seemed to be on mobile phones. These did not appear to be conversations but orders and demands.

It was the final day of the January 2011 transfer window and Melwood felt like an airport terminal. Unfamiliar faces appeared with their suitcases, more familiar ones scurried away with their chins nuzzled into the breasts of their jackets trying to escape the vile winds. Liverpool’s squad were due to train but Torres was not going to join them. I had been scheduled to interview him and despite all the indications he was going to be leaving for Chelsea, I was told to turn up as normal and wait.

At 9am, Torres was there in his jeans, white trainers and white t-shirt but he was not waiting for me. The lights in the foyer had not yet been turned on and this created a peculiar atmosphere, as if all of this wasn’t really happening or, at least, Liverpool were somehow trying to hide a significant moment in an already turbulent season. “He’ll see you before lunch,” I was reassured.

Steven Gerrard also arrived early that day. The door to Melwood’s boot room is hidden away, beneath a staircase leading to the manager’s office and the canteen. Though Torres was right there by the entrance, Gerrard almost walked straight past, barely acknowledging his presence. He had helped persuade him to stay in the past but now Torres was not listening. He had told him a day earlier he was leaving. Reluctantly, Gerrard accepted the decision. Outside, a crowd was gathering. By the end of the night, they were burning Torres’s shirt.

The move to Chelsea would make him the most expensive footballer in British history as well as the sixth costliest of all time. It would be the most lucrative contract he would ever sign at £175,000 a week. He would describe Chelsea as “one of the top-level clubs” in world football. By that implication, Liverpool were not – throwing more fuel on the pyre outside Melwood. “After this, there are no more steps forward,” he said 13 hours later, after being interviewed not by me but by Chelsea’s in-house media team at Stamford Bridge.

He was smiling then. And yet, he did not seem excited as he waited for the deal to be completed. Official negotiations had lasted a fortnight. Perhaps he was simply drained by the uncertainty. Though his attitude was colder than usual and this might have translated into determination, he seemed to me to be worried about the future. His words were mechanical, like he’d rehearsed them. It was as though he was trying to convince himself he was doing the right thing.

I went over and asked him what was going on. There were print deadlines to hit. If he wasn’t going to speak to me, I’d have to fill the space with something else.

Though I wouldn’t claim we knew each other well, we knew each other well enough. He and Sanz had helped when I travelled to Madrid in March 2008 to speak to family and friends about his life. Not many footballers open doors like he did that memorable week and it was clear to me that his love for Liverpool was genuine at that point.

“Shall we get going with this interview?” I asked him innocently, considering the pace of the surrounding activity.

“I am going to sign for Chelsea,” he told me without hesitating.

I felt like pleading with him. No other foreign striker in the club’s history had received such adoration. It felt like he was destined to be here. While still an Atletico Madrid player, he had worn a captain’s armband imprinted with the words You’ll Never Walk Alone.

At Anfield, he’d scored more goals in his debut season than any footballer from outside Britain and 81 in 142 games by the time of his departure. In that process, he’d become — at that time — the fastest Liverpool player ever to 50 league goals. One of those was at Old Trafford where, in March 2009, he shrugged off Nemanja Vidic and helped Liverpool to a 4-1 victory, celebrating by reminding Manchester United supporters Liverpool were five times champions of Europe and their club were not. Everyone believed that he got Liverpool. But Liverpool icons do not leave for Chelsea…

“Why?” I asked him.

Liverpool had new owners. They had re-appointed Kenny Dalglish as manager and results were picking up following a terrible start to the season under Roy Hodgson. Torres was nearly 27. But for a Spanish second division title when he was a teenager, he’d won nothing in a club career already over a decade long.

The story was different at international level, where he’d become a European and then world champion in the space of three summers. This experience had sharpened his senses and motivations. To him, it felt like time was already running out. He turned to the glass cabinet again and inspected its contents. He made it clear why he wanted to move on. The club he’d joined in 2007 had lost a Champions League final six weeks before. It had since lost most of its best players and had lurched towards administration. Liverpool were now seventh in the table, having dropped into the relegation zone in mid-October.

“The team is not the same,” he said quietly, reinforcing his point. “The club is not the same…”

I could not argue convincingly that he was wrong.

The day Fernando Torres left Liverpool, I ended up interviewing Luis Suarez.

There was a ‘what if’ moment when the doors of Melwood slid open, allowing Suarez in at precisely the second Torres was making his escape. They embraced. Suarez was happier to see Torres, whose hold on the Uruguayan lacked energy. His smile was rueful.

Though Suarez had been told by Damien Comolli, the club’s new director of football, that he was being brought in to partner Torres, he did not appear to mind that Comolli’s promise was proving not to be true. Instead, he was excited about a new start.

Suarez seemed to relish the enormous challenge of replacing him. His English was broken but he tried his best and at the end, he held the door open and waited for me to leave the room. I did not get the impression he was capable of a recent past which included a biting ban while an Ajax player, or indeed his future – one which included two further bans for the same offence, as well as other disgraces. He was polite and better at small talk than Torres, despite his limitations around language.

When he said, “Maybe there will be someone else,” it felt as though he was not speculating – that he knew something more. Several hours later, Liverpool signed Andy Carroll from Newcastle for a club record £35 million.

I had not seen Torres in more than five years when I met him next.

Winter was turning into spring and that meant warmth in Madrid, where he was an Atletico player again and attempting to rediscover his sense of self. There had been three full seasons at Chelsea where his search for success was realised by helping the club win the European Cup for the first time as well as the FA Cup in the same month. A year later, he scored in a Europa League final victory. Yet perceptions of him had changed dramatically.

His Chelsea debut came in a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool six days after his departure from Anfield and at Stamford Bridge the travelling supporters who once worshipped him unfurled hastily-created new banners. “He who betrays will always walk alone,” read one. “Breaking News: Ya paid 50 mil 4 Margi Clarke [a blonde Liverpudlian actress],” read another in the colours of the Sky Sports News ticker. That was before he was reminded by Daniel Agger that he was no longer a team-mate via a shoulder charge which knocked the stuffing out of him. Later, he was hit by a cigarette lighter thrown from the away end.

When Carlo Ancelotti decided to make changes, Chelsea’s new No 9 was the first to leave the pitch, his head bowed. The image would become a familiar sight.

In the second half of that season, Torres played 18 times for Chelsea and scored just once. That 2010-11 campaign proved to be the worst of his career. Three full seasons in London would yield just 19 Premier League goals, compared to 56 across the same length of time at Liverpool.

There may have been some mitigation.

Chelsea had five different managers in the three years after his January 2011 arrival. It was only when Rafael Benitez made the surprise decision to accept an interim role in November 2012 that his form picked up, including a burst of seven goals in six games, though never to the levels at Liverpool where Benitez’s system had once helped make him great.

Mostly, Torres seemed possessed by an inner torment, a player ill at ease with the path that he had chosen. There were times when it felt like an impostor was in control of his body and mind. Was somebody else playing in a Torres mask? This was not the matador of Liverpool who made swooshing past raging defenders his easy business but instead a leaden-footed underperformer with the weight of the world on his shoulders whose every miss was met by ridicule.

A loan move to AC Milan in 2014 did not work out (just one goal in 10 appearances there) before he returned to the womb of Atletico aged 29. His best years were behind him but from time to time he would score again, reminding us briefly of the player he once was.

Cautiously, I asked Phil Dickinson, the interpreter who accompanied me in Madrid eight years earlier, to help me reach his agent Antonio Sanz about the possibility of interviewing him and surprisingly the feedback was both quick and positive.

It was his opportunity, I suggested, to set the record straight on the circumstances of his departure from Liverpool in the unlimited space of an entire book chapter. This, replied Sanz, was attractive for him because he appreciated there would be room for necessary context. Any reportage would not be led by a headline. Torres had never spoken on the record about his last months at Liverpool and this left me feeling excited. Rarely do sportsmen open up about sensitive matters concerning their own careers while they are still active but this was Torres giving me two hours of his time and willing, according to his agent, to tell me everything I needed to know.

We were reunited early on a Wednesday morning in March 2016 at Atletico’s training ground in Majadahonda, a well-heeled suburb of Madrid perched on a plateau overlooking the Spanish capital. But for the security staff at the gates of the complex, nobody else was around.

The night before, Torres had been an unused substitute in a 3-0 win at the old Vicente Calderon against Real Sociedad. His popularity remained, with boys and girls shouting his name every time he left the bench to warm-up. Beneath the floodlights of the Calderon, Torres seemed happy again. Body language had become a natural part of his conversation at Liverpool but even as he jogged down the touchline you could see a freedom in his movement that was not there very often during his time at Chelsea particularly. His shoulders were loose rather than heavy.

Next morning, however, his mood had changed.

He was wearing a heavy woollen jumper, jeans and trainers and his movie star qualities remained. It was always said about Torres that his hair was a reflection of his state of mind, with a blond mop showing he was content and shortened versions indicating he was restless. Here, he was blond again but he nevertheless seemed tense beyond the firm handshake and penetrating eye contact. There was very little conversation as we walked together through the press canteen and towards an anteroom with Sanz, who decided to leave us together with the message: “Ask anything you want…”

It is not an exaggeration to say that the space around us felt like a prison cell and Torres could have passed for a captive war veteran as a small window above him let shards of light cut across his freckled face. Between four featureless concrete walls was a wooden table separating two wooden chairs surely once used in a school classroom.

I did not want the serious atmosphere to make the conversation feel like an interrogation, so I started with questions that I thought might make him feel more at ease.

It must have been a big decision to leave Atletico in the first place, having been made captain at the age of 19. Returning gave him the opportunity to remind the world Atletico was his club. He made it sound like he was fulfilling a civic duty by leaving in the first place because the proceeds of his transfer would allow Atletico to build a team rather than it being centred around one star player.

This was how he started to feel at Liverpool after Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano were sold in successive summers, the club failed to replace them adequately and started to slide down the league table. For 18 months at the beginning, even with some injuries, Torres felt unstoppable and his performances helped push Liverpool close to the title, although he was humble enough to recognise he was only able to reach new levels because of the standard of the talent around him. He loved playing with Steven Gerrard but believed his Liverpool captain suffered just as much as him from the departures of Alonso and Mascherano. “I needed the passes from Stevie but Stevie also needed the passes, which now he was not getting,” he reflected. This led, he thought, to a structural breakdown in the team and as a consequence, the pressure on him grew both physically and mentally. It felt like he was at Atletico again – the burden of responsibility placed around his neck.

“Everything changed,” he thought, “when the owners started talking about selling.” The mind-set then shifted at Melwood, with the departure of Benitez as manager in summer 2010. He had seen this before at Atletico, where players were sold and not all of the money was invested in new blood. “The club was saying, ‘We still want to be the best and we want to win…’ But it was doing the opposite.”

It felt like Torres was building up to something he really wanted to get off his chest. Most of his answers were relatively short initially and he was choosing his words carefully. And then it came, towards the end of a question about the good times at Liverpool, when he and Gerrard were arguably the best partnership in the world. “I’d never felt happier than during my time at Liverpool,” he said. “But then I felt betrayed. That’s the truth.”

The betrayal came in that summer of 2010, in the fortnight after he became a World Cup winner.

The club’s financial position had worsened and he was aware of interest from Chelsea and Manchester City through intermediaries with contact to his agent. He had a meeting with Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow in Ibiza to discuss the future.

Purslow had been hired by Tom Hicks and George Gillett in 2009, charged with the responsibility of renegotiating a £350 million loan with Royal Bank of Scotland. Purslow, today at Aston Villa, was an investment banker having emerged from Cambridge University with a degree in modern and medieval languages.

On the first day of pre-season training before the 2009-10 campaign, I had witnessed a heated discussion between him and Benitez in reception at Melwood following a press conference. Newly-appointed Purslow seemed to be telling Benitez how to handle questions relating to the club’s ownership and the manager was not the sort of person who liked to be told what to do, especially as his power base was strong at that point having recently signed a new five-year contract. This will not end well, I concluded.


Hodgson and Torres in 2010 (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Twelve months later, Benitez was gone and Purslow, along with commercial director Ian Ayre, had recruited Roy Hodgson in his place.

Hodgson was there with Purslow at that meeting in Ibiza. Purslow led the conversation, explaining Liverpool were in the process of being sold to new owners and that it was crucial all their star players remained during this period in order for the club to maintain its value. After that process was over, Torres was told, he could leave if the right offer came along. This made him feel like a piece of meat. Neither Purslow nor Hodgson tried to convince him that Liverpool wanted him to stay for sporting reasons or ideally “for ever” and “be like Stevie.” To Torres, this translated as Purslow only wanting to save himself time.

Torres was furious when Mascherano was then sold to Barcelona a month later. Though the Argentinean had tried harder than him to leave, Torres believed Liverpool attempted to demonise Mascherano by suggesting he’d refused to play against Manchester City, turning supporters against him and making the sale easier to justify. The truth was, new owners had not arrived by the end of August and the club had reached the point where it needed money from player sales. Despite Torres’ attempts to find out what was happening, “nobody would speak.”

This is when some of his relationships started to deteriorate. The warmth between him and Gerrard on the pitch no longer existed. Gerrard too had agonised about Liverpool’s plight – as had Jamie Carragher. Yet both concluded if they got involved in the debate about the future, they would lose focus.

According to Carragher, it simply wasn’t the Liverpool Way to become embroiled in boardroom matters. He had been raised at the academy to respect those operating above him. There were nights when he’d lose sleep over what was happening and quietly he’d try and help supporters campaigning against Hicks and Gillett. But if he and Gerrard stopped trying their hardest to win matches, what would it say about them – not just as professionals but as people?

Both Liverpool’s captain and his deputy believed Torres was selective in his efforts during this period. In his autobiography, Gerrard says the striker “downed tools” completely. “Torres was already agitating for a move but it got worse under Roy,” he concluded. Gerrard could remember walking off the pitch following a bad result, thinking to himself, “We just didn’t have Fernando with us today.”

There were games where it seemed like Torres was reluctant to even move. Gerrard wondered whether it was because he was worried about another injury or that he had transfer business on his mind. It was Gerrard’s impression that Torres did not rate Hodgson as a manager. Meanwhile, the future England boss was miscalculating a lot – not least his public messages to Liverpool supporters as the team’s form collapsed and a place in the relegation frame seemed the new natural habitat.

Gerrard felt sympathy for Hodgson and thinks he might have succeeded had the club been more stable. Yet one of his mistakes was to think Torres was simply out of form when, really, his head was elsewhere. Hodgson devised a training session where as many as seven attacking players faced only three defenders to try to get Torres scoring more goals. “It wouldn’t have mattered what kind of sessions Roy put on,” Gerrard decided. “Torres had little faith in Hodgson and he was just desperate to get away.”

When Gerrard scored against Sunderland having been assisted by Torres, Liverpool’s captain did not recognise the role of his partner – pushing past him and celebrating on his own. When Carragher played a pass into the channel and Torres chose not to chase after it even though Liverpool were losing the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, Carragher was furious. These were public examples of the breakdown in relationships at Liverpool, which had now spread from the boardroom to the pitch.

Albert Riera and Pepe Reina, international as well as club team-mates with Torres, agreed with Gerrard and Carragher’s assessment that he wasn’t trying as hard for Liverpool as he did for Spain.

Though he scored both goals in a surprise 2-0 November victory over Chelsea, later that night Liverpool’s senior players were privately seething that he’d turned his form on like a tap against a team that supposedly wanted to sign him. Riera recalls nobody congratulating Torres for his spectacular effort in the changing room afterwards while one junior player, with Liverpool’s squad that Sunday afternoon for experience, remembers Torres sitting alone quietly while the rest of the team embraced with one another.

The youth-teamer had never been part of a match-day before so he soaked up every detail, watching and learning as much as he could. “Torres didn’t speak to anyone on the bus to Anfield, in the dressing room before the game or in the warm-up,” he recalled. “Beating Chelsea was a big result because we were so close to the relegation zone but he was the first to leave the dressing room as well. He looked like he didn’t want to be there. I had this impression of a brilliant player but in training in the weeks after beating Chelsea, he barely tried.”

Torres had cut himself adrift, though he’d never been the life and soul of the party anyway.

Carragher could remember when he first joined Liverpool and he struggled to find form in pre-season. At first, Carragher thought both socially and professionally, “God, I’m not getting much out of this one…”

Yet Liverpool’s vice-captain was desperate for him to do well so he brought son James, then four, to Melwood dressed in a new Liverpool kit with Torres’s name on the back. Carragher wanted Torres to feel welcome – most of all, to increase the chances of Liverpool winning more games. Though that happened, he remained distant on a personal level and preferred to spend time with his family rather than go out with team-mates on the rare occasions they partied. Nobody minded that when Torres was doing well on the pitch, but it became another thing to get frustrated by when results turned the other way.

Indeed, Carragher believes Hodgson did not drop Torres that autumn only because he had no choice considering his only back-up was David N’Gog.

Watching the dynamic between manager and striker during this period made Carragher ponder his own future in the game. “I looked at that and thought, ‘Is this what management is?’ I’d probably have grabbed Torres by the throat. But Hodgson had to put up with it all because he had nothing else to fall back on. He had to tell him he was doing well when he wasn’t, try to find some confidence and enthusiasm in him.”

Back in Madrid, Torres dismissed these claims he threw the towel in. The statistics do not help his cause, though. Aside from those two goals against Chelsea, there were just three others in the league in 2010-11 before the transfer window opened again.

He reasoned that he never felt fit enough to lead Liverpool’s line in the way he had previously. Having had hardly any break because of his participation in the World Cup, he felt a pressure to return to Melwood early because of Liverpool’s well-documented problems. That didn’t mean he could solve them.

Most of all, he was insistent he did not have a bad relationship with Hodgson, describing him as “a great coach and a great guy he always had minty fresh breath.” He was not so positive about the backroom staff assembled by Purslow, however. That included a new Australian medical and fitness team who he thought had too much power – dictating who Hodgson could and could not play, sometimes including Torres. “He [Hodgson] was not allowed to work properly – the situation was more difficult for him than anyone else. From pre-season to January, it was a nightmare,” Torres remembered.

Though Liverpool were finally sold to New England Sports Ventures (a precursor to FSG) in the middle of this period, Torres remained unconvinced the club were heading in the right direction. His immediate point of contact regarding his own future became Comolli, the director of football hired by NESV to front recruitment and player sales. Comolli had enjoyed mixed success as Tottenham Hotspur’s sporting director, with several players achieving success there long after his own departure.

Comolli seems to hold a special place in the mind of Torres, a figure who was key in ensuring that he ended up leaving.

To Torres, Comolli was the same as Purslow – someone who told him he had to stay because Liverpool did not have the star quality to replace him immediately but not because he wanted him in the long term.

Comolli told him Suarez was arriving from Ajax, “but Suarez is not going to score too many goals.” Comolli also told Torres that the new owners wanted to build something new with younger players. Two months away from turning 27, it concerned him how long it would take Liverpool to reach the top again.

The club’s next big decision was to sack Hodgson in early January and replace him with Kenny Dalglish. In Hodgson’s last game, Liverpool lost 3-1 away to Blackburn Rovers and the outgoing manager, whose reign proved to be the shortest in club history, was serenaded by supporters in the away end with the chant: “Hodgson for England.” It was believed that Dalglish could restore some identity at a club that had lost its institutional memory at the very top. His status on Merseyside was at a papal level.

Torres felt like he could trust Dalglish. They had spoken many times before, in the hospitality lounges of Anfield where the former Liverpool player and manager worked as a club ambassador. He told the Scot about the broken promises and disappointing conversations with Purslow and Comolli. With that, the team’s form improved and Torres started scoring — three in Dalglish’s first five games.

It was a week before the closure of the January transfer window when Torres met Dalglish again. Chelsea’s interest had not gone away and their representatives were negotiating privately with Comolli.

Torres says he did not ask to leave and was hoping Dalglish might make him feel wanted and reassure him of Liverpool’s intentions as a team – getting at least closer to the title than they were under Benitez just 20 months earlier. Yet Torres says he felt let down by Dalglish, who seemed to tell him one thing only to do another by agreeing to sell him. It was Torres’ opinion that Dalglish was out of his depth dealing with such sensitive issues in his early days back in management following 12 years away.

Within a couple of hours of their meeting at Melwood, stories had started to circulate in the press about Torres “verbally” requesting a transfer.

Dalglish had listened to Torres and concluded that neither his mind or heart was at Liverpool. Torres had not shown him that he was truly committed. Having initially been given his old job back on a temporary basis, Dalglish now wanted it full time and for that to happen he needed everyone pulling in the same direction. A distraction such as this one could undermine his own intentions.

Torres had been a fine player for Liverpool but, from a distance, fellow striker Dalglish had been alarmed by his drop in his standards. Was it to do with commitment or was his body not allowing to him reach the levels he’d got to in his first 18 months at Anfield?

Meanwhile, Torres was furious that some details from a private conversation had become public. He saw this as an attempt to sully his name, making him take “maximum responsibility” before the club got what they really wanted – a record fee. “Mascherano,” he said, “had the same treatment.”

Comolli, Torres explained, had wanted to be in the meeting with Dalglish but Torres had told the manager he only wanted to see him because he never felt like he got a straight answer from Comolli. He was left wondering whether Dalglish had left the room and divulged some of the more private concerns. Either way, it now “felt like there was nobody to trust – the stories in the press changed the view of everybody, including myself.”

Torres had not used his agent to speak on his behalf. Each time he talked to Purslow, Comolli and Dalglish, it was in person. He regretted that decision especially. Maybe he had been too honest – too emotional. Maybe he could have been more succinct. Any transfer request had to appear in writing for a move to be forced through and now he felt like he had no other option.

To supporters, this confirmed him as a traitor. In Torres’ eyes, nobody at Liverpool was willing to admit there was a problem with the whole team or present an ambitious vision of the future which included a bold, winning culture. Instead, only he could be the villain.

“They had to find a guilty one,” he said, his eyes sharpening.

Later in 2016, the long-running battle between Mill Financial, George Gillett – Liverpool’s former owner – and Royal Bank of Scotland reached a New York courtroom.

Documents from 2010, when Mill were competing to buy Liverpool, revealed that New England Sports Ventures (now Fenway Sports Group) viewed both Torres and goalkeeper Pepe Reina as being “probably beyond their primes.”

Two years after Torres was sold to Chelsea, Reina – another of the squad’s highest earners – was allowed to leave, initially on loan to Napoli. History, it is fair to say, reflected well on FSG’s financial judgement because neither player ever again scaled the heights reached at Liverpool. Standards had slipped and trading profits were reached on both.

Ultimately, however, each player’s replacement was not an improvement – particularly Torres’. Though Andy Carroll scored in two of his three Merseyside derbies – the second, crucially, a late winner in a 2012 FA Cup semi-final, they were two of just 11 goals across two injury-hit seasons as a Liverpool player.

Torres told me he cried that day he left Liverpool, as the helicopter took off from John Lennon Airport and flew over the scudding waters of the Mersey.

He could understand the reaction of the Liverpool supporters who torched his shirt and hurled objects at him on his Chelsea debut. “It was not their fault,” he said, remembering how they had once made him feel “like a king.”

At Anfield, he always felt like he could score every game. As Atletico’s captain, there had been the crushing pressure of being the supremely talented local lad in an underachieving team. At Chelsea, he always felt the need to justify his huge price tag and struggled to mix in a dressing room filled with superstars and enormous egos. He would achieve the winner’s medals he craved but only then did he realise that “maybe it was enough for me…”

This made him think about his first 18 months at Liverpool, where he felt like a significant player in a talented team, where he gained strength from the goodwill of Anfield and there were still a few others Liverpool could turn to in order to win games if he wasn’t quite on form – the way it needed to be for him to flourish.

“The atmosphere was magic,” he smiled dolefully, seeming to know he would never feel such a connection again.
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Old 20-04-20, 04:57 PM   #6485
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Cheers Buzzo
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Old 20-04-20, 05:32 PM   #6486
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Great edit in the quote
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Old 20-04-20, 05:38 PM   #6487
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Old 20-04-20, 08:25 PM   #6488
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Old 15-09-20, 06:07 PM   #6489
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Has anyone got access to the Times, for this full article:

‘Liverpool were my family but they hated me. It was very painful’

Fernando Torres tells Henry Winter how Steven Gerrard was pivotal in his development into a world-class striker – and why returning to Anfield was so tough


https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/l...nful-03kx3x6v7
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Old 18-09-20, 08:56 AM   #6490
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‘Liverpool were my family but they hated me. It was very painful’

Fernando Torres opens up to Henry Winter about why he felt he had no option but to leave Anfield — and how Chelsea drained him of confidence

Henry Winter
, Chief Football Writer
Tuesday September 15 2020, 5.00pm, The Times

It is impossible to think of Liverpool’s upcoming trip to Chelsea without thinking of Fernando Torres, that wonderfully skilful and direct goalscorer who so controversially moved from Anfield to Stamford Bridge in 2011. Torres was at his beloved Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium today, launching the documentary about his life, Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol, and happily taking a call to discuss the two English clubs in his life. It’s quite a story.

It all began in 2007, when he left Atletico for £20 million to join fellow Spaniards Rafa Benítez, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina and Álvaro Arbeloa at Anfield. “One of the reasons I decided to go to Liverpool was because Rafa was there,” Torres says. “He was calling me almost every day to show me the project. Xabi, Álvaro, Pepe, everybody was calling me, so that makes me feel like I’m going somewhere I can adapt.

“I started asking and reading about the Liverpool history. I didn’t know how huge Liverpool were. I could see quickly the relationship between supporters, players and club and it was like a family and this is what I needed. I was going to leave Atletico for the first time in my life, moving to a new country, I didn’t speak the language and was by myself. I needed to feel welcome and warm, not just at home with Pepe and all the Spanish guys but also in the club and on the pitch. Liverpool had all the values that I needed to make the decision to leave home. Liverpool was a perfect fit.”

The most perfect synchronicity came with Steven Gerrard, so important in so many of Torres’s 81 goals in 142 appearances. “As an icon of Liverpool, it was difficult to talk with him at the beginning,” Torres says of Gerrard. “I was not brave enough. I was like, ‘Wow, Steven Gerrard is my team-mate!’ I had so much respect for him. Being able to play with him in training and games — I couldn’t believe it.”

Torres quickly knew when Gerrard got the ball to make the run. Gerrard would find him with one of those drilled passes. Torres marked his Anfield debut by taking a Gerrard pass and scoring against Chelsea. It became a familiar theme. “He made my game complete,” Torres says. “Everything that I needed was him, just everything in one player. I didn’t need to ask for the ball any more. The only thing I needed to do is run into the space all the time because he was perfect for my game. It was a joy to play with him.

“It was completely natural understanding. In Atletico, I spent a lot of time talking with the No 10 or the midfielders to say, ‘When you receive the ball there I will make that run here,’ but with Steven I didn’t need to talk with him. Everything was natural. It was like I’d been playing with him all my life.

“I could see that Steven thought that I could be the best in the world. That coming from him was huge for me. I could become the best in the world only because he thought that it was possible.”

In 2010, Torres became a world champion with Spain, and he credits Gerrard with his development. “I was the player that I was thanks to him. If Steven was not on the team those years in Liverpool, I’m sure I wouldn’t have scored so many goals and play at the level I did.”

Benítez’s tactics also suited him. “For the style of football he wants to play he needs a player like me with my conditions: quick, sharp, powerful who is good at defending, making runs and helping the team. I fit perfectly for the system he wants to play and, with Steven behind me, it was perfect.”

He was also swiftly embraced by the Kop. “I understood really quick what Liverpool fans wanted to watch: people who work hard 100 per cent, run after every ball, play with pace and giving them something to enjoy. I give 100 per cent, always fighting for every ball, being the player that all the fans want to watch, a guy giving his all.”

He loved match day, walking from the cramped old dressing room, touching the ‘This Is Anfield’ sign before emerging and looking right to the Kop. “Anfield is full of ‘mythics’, the sign ‘This Is Anfield’, the small dressing room with the hangers very low. In every corner of Anfield you have a story, something that people from the club tell you about, the hangers from [Bill] Shankly or [Bob] Paisley. I love that.

“I missed that in the modern football, where everything’s new, everything’s huge, new stadiums. I loved Anfield because everything was different, even now with the new stand every corridor has a story, every room has a story. It was fantastic for me to be involved in the club’s history. That makes me understand how big and important the club and the responsibility you have with that shirt on.”

So why did he go to Chelsea in January 2011? “It was very difficult to leave,” Torres begins. He returned from the World Cup in South Africa the previous year as a winner, and wanting to amass trophies with Liverpool. His discontent began under Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the owners. “They were selling the club, I don’t know what they were doing because they were not working for [the best interests of] Liverpool. They don’t want any good things for Liverpool. They destroyed the project we had very quick. [Javier] Mascherano, Alonso and Benítez left. They started bringing in young players. They started changing all the staff, physios, doctors.

“They told us they wanted to build something in the next eight to ten years. I was there listening to everything and saying, ‘OK, and what about me? I left my home, my former team, because I was sure that Liverpool could be the place where I won trophies and you are telling me that we need ten years. I don’t have ten years. I need to find somewhere where I can win trophies.’ I was in the middle of this disaster that the directors were doing.”

In October 2010, Hicks and Gillett sold the club to John W Henry and Tom Werner, who tried to keep Torres. He went in one day to see Damien Comolli, the new director of football strategy, and was surprised that “after one hour everything was in the media”. Kenny Dalglish, the then manager, spoke to Torres and tried to persuade him to stay but the striker submitted a transfer request. He was pilloried in the media.

“They needed to find ‘a guilty one’ and to turn the story for everybody to blame me,” Torres continues. “I don’t think I deserved that. It was not the best way to leave the club. Every time that I went back to Anfield to play with Chelsea all the fans were booing me. I felt Liverpool was something similar to my family and they were hating me. It was very painful. I used to read everything, in the papers and online. The fans online hated me. They called me all the names. There was this guy called 'Chris' who used to call me a cunt every single day. It was very hurtful. They would call me a 'vole cunt' - I didn't even know what it meant but it hurt a lot.

But if I were a Liverpool fan, and I read everything that the media are writing about the reason I left, maybe I would boo the player. But with time Liverpool fans and myself are friends again.

“I decided on Chelsea because I thought they are the club that will give me trophies. At that time Man City were building the club they are right now and I thought that maybe they needed more time. When I saw Chelsea with [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Didier] Drogba, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech, all those big stars, I was sure their best moment in football still didn’t happened for them. I was sure they will win the Champions League. A generation that good cannot finish without winning a big thing.

“I knew Chelsea was a different club [to Liverpool and Atletico], probably very cold because it’s full of stars and egos, but I also was a top player so I thought I could fit in very well.”

He struggled, though. “Maybe leaving in January didn’t help because the squad is done, it is difficult to fit in.” Emotionally too. “I always needed that feeling of family. I need to feel part of a dressing room and spend time with them, go out for dinner, or with the families, with the children. I didn’t have that at Chelsea.

“My first six months were really bad and I went into myself, like a protection. I didn’t talk with anyone. For the first time in my career I didn’t score goals and I lost the way I used to play. Also the injury of the knee, but I don’t blame anyone. It was my fault that I was not able to play in a good way consistently.

“I had very good moments for Chelsea but I was not consistent. In a big club if you’re not consistent you’re out of the team. I was sure that I could still be a top player but not there. You could see after, when I moved back to Atletico, I reached the high level again because it’s matter of confidence, of something mental.”

He still has good memories, winning the Champions League in 2012, and the appreciation of Lampard’s quality. “I knew he would become a manager, 100 per cent. He’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve met in football. Great professional. Everybody knows he was a top player but a top professional too, which is not the same. Lampard’s a guy who always worked really hard and looked after himself very well. He knew everything. He was always aware of everything in training, about physical conditioning, about tactics, techniques. He has the character of being a leader.

“You could see how good he did in his first season in a very difficult season for them. They lose Eden Hazard [to Real Madrid], they couldn’t sign any players, he played young players and then they qualify for Champions League. A fantastic and brilliant season and they’re building a really good squad now. I don’t know if it will be this year but in the next two or three years Chelsea will be a top contender again.”

His thoughts will be on the Bridge on Sunday. For now, they turn briefly across London to Tottenham Hotspur and to José Mourinho, his old manager at Chelsea. Torres knows that Mourinho is being criticised but calls for patience. “He’s a top manager. I learnt a lot from him. He needs time to do his work. I’m sure if he has time in Tottenham he will do really well, much better than everybody’s expecting now. He’s also the kind of manager that when the pressure is higher, and with everybody’s maybe thinking that he’s not working any more, he gives 100 per cent and even more.

“He’s very good face-to-face. He controls really well the dressing room and he controls really well the egos. That’s why when he is managing a top club with top players he’s great. If you don’t have those egos — maybe you can see now in Tottenham — it’s more difficult for him because he’s a fantastic manager when he has players with ambitions because he has the same.”

Mourinho features in Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol on Amazon Prime (full disclosure: The Times has also contributed). “It was a chance for me to explain my story,” the 36-year-old says. “Everything I went through since I was a 17-year-old kid who makes his debut for Atletico until the last day I decide to finish football in Japan [at Sagan Tosu last year]. I can tell everybody my part of the story, not what the media wants to talk about my story. I hope that kids can learn something about all the sacrifice that you have to do to play football at the highest level, and how hard it is to say, ‘It’s finished.’ ”

Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol will launch exclusively on Prime Video on Friday, September 18
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Last edited by Shaggy; 18-09-20 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 18-09-20, 09:20 AM   #6491
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Old 18-09-20, 09:21 AM   #6492
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Old 18-09-20, 09:30 AM   #6493
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Vole cunt indeed. "But you promised me trophies"; what a knob.
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Old 18-09-20, 09:55 AM   #6494
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I do get where he was coming from in terms of the club not being the same as the one he joined. Rafa and some of the better Spanish speaking players leaving etc. It had gone to shit.

His attitude towards it then, and even now, was terrible. I have a wild theory about it all . As soon as he became a Dad his mood seems to darken. I think the timing of that and the decline at the club sent him into a depression.

He didn't find a way out of it until he went back to Atletico, buy then he was already passed his best.
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Old 18-09-20, 10:13 AM   #6495
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I do get where he was coming from in terms of the club not being the same as the one he joined. Rafa and some of the better Spanish speaking players leaving etc. It had gone to shit.

His attitude towards it then, and even now, was terrible. I have a wild theory about it all . As soon as he became a Dad his mood seems to darken. I think the timing of that and the decline at the club sent him into a depression.

He didn't find a way out of it until he went back to Atletico, buy then he was already passed his best.
I don't blame him at all. We had a really top team which just needed additional depth. Those fuckwits threw it away, sold our best players, disillusioned everyone and brought in Konchesky and Woy. After leaving us, he won pretty much everything between Chelsea and Atleti. He only missed out on the league titles. Despite not being in great form most of the time, he played a lot of minutes. I still think him winning the UEFA Cup with Rafa and Zenden at Chelsea is the most ironic thing.

EDIT: Just looked up the game, Yossi was on the bench too!

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Old 18-09-20, 10:49 AM   #6496
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Yeah, I don’t blame him for leaving. It was gutting at the time. But we were shit.
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Old 18-09-20, 01:46 PM   #6497
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Obviously we’d always have been gutted to see him leave, but if he went to a different league, wherever he went would have been my second team, and I’d be cheering him on. He went to chelsea ffs- especially at a time when our rivalry with them was very bitter, meeting in Europe a lot, etc.

It would be like going out with a girl for 3 years or so... then shagging someone else and leaving her for this new skank in London. You wouldn’t expect her to remember ya with fond memories cos the 3 wonderful years ya gave her. It was consolation that he effectively caught the clap at chelsea...
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Old 18-09-20, 06:26 PM   #6498
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Originally Posted by Shaggy View Post
‘Liverpool were my family but they hated me. It was very painful’

Fernando Torres opens up to Henry Winter about why he felt he had no option but to leave Anfield — and how Chelsea drained him of confidence

Henry Winter
, Chief Football Writer
Tuesday September 15 2020, 5.00pm, The Times

It is impossible to think of Liverpool’s upcoming trip to Chelsea without thinking of Fernando Torres, that wonderfully skilful and direct goalscorer who so controversially moved from Anfield to Stamford Bridge in 2011. Torres was at his beloved Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium today, launching the documentary about his life, Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol, and happily taking a call to discuss the two English clubs in his life. It’s quite a story.

It all began in 2007, when he left Atletico for £20 million to join fellow Spaniards Rafa Benítez, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina and Álvaro Arbeloa at Anfield. “One of the reasons I decided to go to Liverpool was because Rafa was there,” Torres says. “He was calling me almost every day to show me the project. Xabi, Álvaro, Pepe, everybody was calling me, so that makes me feel like I’m going somewhere I can adapt.

“I started asking and reading about the Liverpool history. I didn’t know how huge Liverpool were. I could see quickly the relationship between supporters, players and club and it was like a family and this is what I needed. I was going to leave Atletico for the first time in my life, moving to a new country, I didn’t speak the language and was by myself. I needed to feel welcome and warm, not just at home with Pepe and all the Spanish guys but also in the club and on the pitch. Liverpool had all the values that I needed to make the decision to leave home. Liverpool was a perfect fit.”

The most perfect synchronicity came with Steven Gerrard, so important in so many of Torres’s 81 goals in 142 appearances. “As an icon of Liverpool, it was difficult to talk with him at the beginning,” Torres says of Gerrard. “I was not brave enough. I was like, ‘Wow, Steven Gerrard is my team-mate!’ I had so much respect for him. Being able to play with him in training and games — I couldn’t believe it.”

Torres quickly knew when Gerrard got the ball to make the run. Gerrard would find him with one of those drilled passes. Torres marked his Anfield debut by taking a Gerrard pass and scoring against Chelsea. It became a familiar theme. “He made my game complete,” Torres says. “Everything that I needed was him, just everything in one player. I didn’t need to ask for the ball any more. The only thing I needed to do is run into the space all the time because he was perfect for my game. It was a joy to play with him.

“It was completely natural understanding. In Atletico, I spent a lot of time talking with the No 10 or the midfielders to say, ‘When you receive the ball there I will make that run here,’ but with Steven I didn’t need to talk with him. Everything was natural. It was like I’d been playing with him all my life.

“I could see that Steven thought that I could be the best in the world. That coming from him was huge for me. I could become the best in the world only because he thought that it was possible.”

In 2010, Torres became a world champion with Spain, and he credits Gerrard with his development. “I was the player that I was thanks to him. If Steven was not on the team those years in Liverpool, I’m sure I wouldn’t have scored so many goals and play at the level I did.”

Benítez’s tactics also suited him. “For the style of football he wants to play he needs a player like me with my conditions: quick, sharp, powerful who is good at defending, making runs and helping the team. I fit perfectly for the system he wants to play and, with Steven behind me, it was perfect.”

He was also swiftly embraced by the Kop. “I understood really quick what Liverpool fans wanted to watch: people who work hard 100 per cent, run after every ball, play with pace and giving them something to enjoy. I give 100 per cent, always fighting for every ball, being the player that all the fans want to watch, a guy giving his all.”

He loved match day, walking from the cramped old dressing room, touching the ‘This Is Anfield’ sign before emerging and looking right to the Kop. “Anfield is full of ‘mythics’, the sign ‘This Is Anfield’, the small dressing room with the hangers very low. In every corner of Anfield you have a story, something that people from the club tell you about, the hangers from [Bill] Shankly or [Bob] Paisley. I love that.

“I missed that in the modern football, where everything’s new, everything’s huge, new stadiums. I loved Anfield because everything was different, even now with the new stand every corridor has a story, every room has a story. It was fantastic for me to be involved in the club’s history. That makes me understand how big and important the club and the responsibility you have with that shirt on.”

So why did he go to Chelsea in January 2011? “It was very difficult to leave,” Torres begins. He returned from the World Cup in South Africa the previous year as a winner, and wanting to amass trophies with Liverpool. His discontent began under Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the owners. “They were selling the club, I don’t know what they were doing because they were not working for [the best interests of] Liverpool. They don’t want any good things for Liverpool. They destroyed the project we had very quick. [Javier] Mascherano, Alonso and Benítez left. They started bringing in young players. They started changing all the staff, physios, doctors.

“They told us they wanted to build something in the next eight to ten years. I was there listening to everything and saying, ‘OK, and what about me? I left my home, my former team, because I was sure that Liverpool could be the place where I won trophies and you are telling me that we need ten years. I don’t have ten years. I need to find somewhere where I can win trophies.’ I was in the middle of this disaster that the directors were doing.”

In October 2010, Hicks and Gillett sold the club to John W Henry and Tom Werner, who tried to keep Torres. He went in one day to see Damien Comolli, the new director of football strategy, and was surprised that “after one hour everything was in the media”. Kenny Dalglish, the then manager, spoke to Torres and tried to persuade him to stay but the striker submitted a transfer request. He was pilloried in the media.

“They needed to find ‘a guilty one’ and to turn the story for everybody to blame me,” Torres continues. “I don’t think I deserved that. It was not the best way to leave the club. Every time that I went back to Anfield to play with Chelsea all the fans were booing me. I felt Liverpool was something similar to my family and they were hating me. It was very painful. I used to read everything, in the papers and online. The fans online hated me. They called me all the names. There was this guy called 'Chris' who used to call me a cunt every single day. It was very hurtful. They would call me a 'vole cunt' - I didn't even know what it meant but it hurt a lot.

But if I were a Liverpool fan, and I read everything that the media are writing about the reason I left, maybe I would boo the player. But with time Liverpool fans and myself are friends again.

“I decided on Chelsea because I thought they are the club that will give me trophies. At that time Man City were building the club they are right now and I thought that maybe they needed more time. When I saw Chelsea with [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Didier] Drogba, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech, all those big stars, I was sure their best moment in football still didn’t happened for them. I was sure they will win the Champions League. A generation that good cannot finish without winning a big thing.

“I knew Chelsea was a different club [to Liverpool and Atletico], probably very cold because it’s full of stars and egos, but I also was a top player so I thought I could fit in very well.”

He struggled, though. “Maybe leaving in January didn’t help because the squad is done, it is difficult to fit in.” Emotionally too. “I always needed that feeling of family. I need to feel part of a dressing room and spend time with them, go out for dinner, or with the families, with the children. I didn’t have that at Chelsea.

“My first six months were really bad and I went into myself, like a protection. I didn’t talk with anyone. For the first time in my career I didn’t score goals and I lost the way I used to play. Also the injury of the knee, but I don’t blame anyone. It was my fault that I was not able to play in a good way consistently.

“I had very good moments for Chelsea but I was not consistent. In a big club if you’re not consistent you’re out of the team. I was sure that I could still be a top player but not there. You could see after, when I moved back to Atletico, I reached the high level again because it’s matter of confidence, of something mental.”

He still has good memories, winning the Champions League in 2012, and the appreciation of Lampard’s quality. “I knew he would become a manager, 100 per cent. He’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve met in football. Great professional. Everybody knows he was a top player but a top professional too, which is not the same. Lampard’s a guy who always worked really hard and looked after himself very well. He knew everything. He was always aware of everything in training, about physical conditioning, about tactics, techniques. He has the character of being a leader.

“You could see how good he did in his first season in a very difficult season for them. They lose Eden Hazard [to Real Madrid], they couldn’t sign any players, he played young players and then they qualify for Champions League. A fantastic and brilliant season and they’re building a really good squad now. I don’t know if it will be this year but in the next two or three years Chelsea will be a top contender again.”

His thoughts will be on the Bridge on Sunday. For now, they turn briefly across London to Tottenham Hotspur and to José Mourinho, his old manager at Chelsea. Torres knows that Mourinho is being criticised but calls for patience. “He’s a top manager. I learnt a lot from him. He needs time to do his work. I’m sure if he has time in Tottenham he will do really well, much better than everybody’s expecting now. He’s also the kind of manager that when the pressure is higher, and with everybody’s maybe thinking that he’s not working any more, he gives 100 per cent and even more.

“He’s very good face-to-face. He controls really well the dressing room and he controls really well the egos. That’s why when he is managing a top club with top players he’s great. If you don’t have those egos — maybe you can see now in Tottenham — it’s more difficult for him because he’s a fantastic manager when he has players with ambitions because he has the same.”

Mourinho features in Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol on Amazon Prime (full disclosure: The Times has also contributed). “It was a chance for me to explain my story,” the 36-year-old says. “Everything I went through since I was a 17-year-old kid who makes his debut for Atletico until the last day I decide to finish football in Japan [at Sagan Tosu last year]. I can tell everybody my part of the story, not what the media wants to talk about my story. I hope that kids can learn something about all the sacrifice that you have to do to play football at the highest level, and how hard it is to say, ‘It’s finished.’ ”

Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol will launch exclusively on Prime Video on Friday, September 18
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Old 18-09-20, 07:02 PM   #6499
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaggy View Post
‘Liverpool were my family but they hated me. It was very painful’

Fernando Torres opens up to Henry Winter about why he felt he had no option but to leave Anfield — and how Chelsea drained him of confidence

Henry Winter
, Chief Football Writer
Tuesday September 15 2020, 5.00pm, The Times

It is impossible to think of Liverpool’s upcoming trip to Chelsea without thinking of Fernando Torres, that wonderfully skilful and direct goalscorer who so controversially moved from Anfield to Stamford Bridge in 2011. Torres was at his beloved Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium today, launching the documentary about his life, Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol, and happily taking a call to discuss the two English clubs in his life. It’s quite a story.

It all began in 2007, when he left Atletico for £20 million to join fellow Spaniards Rafa Benítez, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina and Álvaro Arbeloa at Anfield. “One of the reasons I decided to go to Liverpool was because Rafa was there,” Torres says. “He was calling me almost every day to show me the project. Xabi, Álvaro, Pepe, everybody was calling me, so that makes me feel like I’m going somewhere I can adapt.

“I started asking and reading about the Liverpool history. I didn’t know how huge Liverpool were. I could see quickly the relationship between supporters, players and club and it was like a family and this is what I needed. I was going to leave Atletico for the first time in my life, moving to a new country, I didn’t speak the language and was by myself. I needed to feel welcome and warm, not just at home with Pepe and all the Spanish guys but also in the club and on the pitch. Liverpool had all the values that I needed to make the decision to leave home. Liverpool was a perfect fit.”

The most perfect synchronicity came with Steven Gerrard, so important in so many of Torres’s 81 goals in 142 appearances. “As an icon of Liverpool, it was difficult to talk with him at the beginning,” Torres says of Gerrard. “I was not brave enough. I was like, ‘Wow, Steven Gerrard is my team-mate!’ I had so much respect for him. Being able to play with him in training and games — I couldn’t believe it.”

Torres quickly knew when Gerrard got the ball to make the run. Gerrard would find him with one of those drilled passes. Torres marked his Anfield debut by taking a Gerrard pass and scoring against Chelsea. It became a familiar theme. “He made my game complete,” Torres says. “Everything that I needed was him, just everything in one player. I didn’t need to ask for the ball any more. The only thing I needed to do is run into the space all the time because he was perfect for my game. It was a joy to play with him.

“It was completely natural understanding. In Atletico, I spent a lot of time talking with the No 10 or the midfielders to say, ‘When you receive the ball there I will make that run here,’ but with Steven I didn’t need to talk with him. Everything was natural. It was like I’d been playing with him all my life.

“I could see that Steven thought that I could be the best in the world. That coming from him was huge for me. I could become the best in the world only because he thought that it was possible.”

In 2010, Torres became a world champion with Spain, and he credits Gerrard with his development. “I was the player that I was thanks to him. If Steven was not on the team those years in Liverpool, I’m sure I wouldn’t have scored so many goals and play at the level I did.”

Benítez’s tactics also suited him. “For the style of football he wants to play he needs a player like me with my conditions: quick, sharp, powerful who is good at defending, making runs and helping the team. I fit perfectly for the system he wants to play and, with Steven behind me, it was perfect.”

He was also swiftly embraced by the Kop. “I understood really quick what Liverpool fans wanted to watch: people who work hard 100 per cent, run after every ball, play with pace and giving them something to enjoy. I give 100 per cent, always fighting for every ball, being the player that all the fans want to watch, a guy giving his all.”

He loved match day, walking from the cramped old dressing room, touching the ‘This Is Anfield’ sign before emerging and looking right to the Kop. “Anfield is full of ‘mythics’, the sign ‘This Is Anfield’, the small dressing room with the hangers very low. In every corner of Anfield you have a story, something that people from the club tell you about, the hangers from [Bill] Shankly or [Bob] Paisley. I love that.

“I missed that in the modern football, where everything’s new, everything’s huge, new stadiums. I loved Anfield because everything was different, even now with the new stand every corridor has a story, every room has a story. It was fantastic for me to be involved in the club’s history. That makes me understand how big and important the club and the responsibility you have with that shirt on.”

So why did he go to Chelsea in January 2011? “It was very difficult to leave,” Torres begins. He returned from the World Cup in South Africa the previous year as a winner, and wanting to amass trophies with Liverpool. His discontent began under Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the owners. “They were selling the club, I don’t know what they were doing because they were not working for [the best interests of] Liverpool. They don’t want any good things for Liverpool. They destroyed the project we had very quick. [Javier] Mascherano, Alonso and Benítez left. They started bringing in young players. They started changing all the staff, physios, doctors.

“They told us they wanted to build something in the next eight to ten years. I was there listening to everything and saying, ‘OK, and what about me? I left my home, my former team, because I was sure that Liverpool could be the place where I won trophies and you are telling me that we need ten years. I don’t have ten years. I need to find somewhere where I can win trophies.’ I was in the middle of this disaster that the directors were doing.”

In October 2010, Hicks and Gillett sold the club to John W Henry and Tom Werner, who tried to keep Torres. He went in one day to see Damien Comolli, the new director of football strategy, and was surprised that “after one hour everything was in the media”. Kenny Dalglish, the then manager, spoke to Torres and tried to persuade him to stay but the striker submitted a transfer request. He was pilloried in the media.

“They needed to find ‘a guilty one’ and to turn the story for everybody to blame me,” Torres continues. “I don’t think I deserved that. It was not the best way to leave the club. Every time that I went back to Anfield to play with Chelsea all the fans were booing me. I felt Liverpool was something similar to my family and they were hating me. It was very painful. I used to read everything, in the papers and online. The fans online hated me. They called me all the names. There was this guy called 'Chris' who used to call me a cunt every single day. It was very hurtful. They would call me a 'vole cunt' - I didn't even know what it meant but it hurt a lot.

But if I were a Liverpool fan, and I read everything that the media are writing about the reason I left, maybe I would boo the player. But with time Liverpool fans and myself are friends again.

“I decided on Chelsea because I thought they are the club that will give me trophies. At that time Man City were building the club they are right now and I thought that maybe they needed more time. When I saw Chelsea with [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Didier] Drogba, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech, all those big stars, I was sure their best moment in football still didn’t happened for them. I was sure they will win the Champions League. A generation that good cannot finish without winning a big thing.

“I knew Chelsea was a different club [to Liverpool and Atletico], probably very cold because it’s full of stars and egos, but I also was a top player so I thought I could fit in very well.”

He struggled, though. “Maybe leaving in January didn’t help because the squad is done, it is difficult to fit in.” Emotionally too. “I always needed that feeling of family. I need to feel part of a dressing room and spend time with them, go out for dinner, or with the families, with the children. I didn’t have that at Chelsea.

“My first six months were really bad and I went into myself, like a protection. I didn’t talk with anyone. For the first time in my career I didn’t score goals and I lost the way I used to play. Also the injury of the knee, but I don’t blame anyone. It was my fault that I was not able to play in a good way consistently.

“I had very good moments for Chelsea but I was not consistent. In a big club if you’re not consistent you’re out of the team. I was sure that I could still be a top player but not there. You could see after, when I moved back to Atletico, I reached the high level again because it’s matter of confidence, of something mental.”

He still has good memories, winning the Champions League in 2012, and the appreciation of Lampard’s quality. “I knew he would become a manager, 100 per cent. He’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve met in football. Great professional. Everybody knows he was a top player but a top professional too, which is not the same. Lampard’s a guy who always worked really hard and looked after himself very well. He knew everything. He was always aware of everything in training, about physical conditioning, about tactics, techniques. He has the character of being a leader.

“You could see how good he did in his first season in a very difficult season for them. They lose Eden Hazard [to Real Madrid], they couldn’t sign any players, he played young players and then they qualify for Champions League. A fantastic and brilliant season and they’re building a really good squad now. I don’t know if it will be this year but in the next two or three years Chelsea will be a top contender again.”

His thoughts will be on the Bridge on Sunday. For now, they turn briefly across London to Tottenham Hotspur and to José Mourinho, his old manager at Chelsea. Torres knows that Mourinho is being criticised but calls for patience. “He’s a top manager. I learnt a lot from him. He needs time to do his work. I’m sure if he has time in Tottenham he will do really well, much better than everybody’s expecting now. He’s also the kind of manager that when the pressure is higher, and with everybody’s maybe thinking that he’s not working any more, he gives 100 per cent and even more.

“He’s very good face-to-face. He controls really well the dressing room and he controls really well the egos. That’s why when he is managing a top club with top players he’s great. If you don’t have those egos — maybe you can see now in Tottenham — it’s more difficult for him because he’s a fantastic manager when he has players with ambitions because he has the same.”

Mourinho features in Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol on Amazon Prime (full disclosure: The Times has also contributed). “It was a chance for me to explain my story,” the 36-year-old says. “Everything I went through since I was a 17-year-old kid who makes his debut for Atletico until the last day I decide to finish football in Japan [at Sagan Tosu last year]. I can tell everybody my part of the story, not what the media wants to talk about my story. I hope that kids can learn something about all the sacrifice that you have to do to play football at the highest level, and how hard it is to say, ‘It’s finished.’ ”

Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol will launch exclusively on Prime Video on Friday, September 18
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Old 18-09-20, 07:23 PM   #6500
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Obviously we’d always have been gutted to see him leave, but if he went to a different league, wherever he went would have been my second team, and I’d be cheering him on. He went to chelsea ffs- especially at a time when our rivalry with them was very bitter, meeting in Europe a lot, etc.
Chelsea were probably one of the worst two or three clubs that he could have gone to, if he had handed in a transfer request and gone back to Spain most of us would have wished him well.

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It would be like going out with a girl for 3 years or so... then shagging someone else and leaving her for this new skank in London. You wouldn’t expect her to remember ya with fond memories cos the 3 wonderful years ya gave her. It was consolation that he effectively caught the clap at chelsea...
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Old 18-09-20, 08:07 PM   #6501
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He was sulking so much and didn't look fit. The money was phenomenal, spunking it on Carroll was the disappointment. It's not like he was performing at the height of his powers when he went. If he left and we only bought Suarez, it would have left a lot less of a sour taste in the mouth in all honesty.
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Old 18-09-20, 08:38 PM   #6502
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He was sulking so much and didn't look fit. The money was phenomenal, spunking it on Carroll was the disappointment. It's not like he was performing at the height of his powers when he went. If he left and we only bought Suarez, it would have left a lot less of a sour taste in the mouth in all honesty.
THIS
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Old 18-09-20, 08:40 PM   #6503
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He was sulking so much and didn't look fit. The money was phenomenal, spunking it on Carroll was the disappointment. It's not like he was performing at the height of his powers when he went. If he left and we only bought Suarez, it would have left a lot less of a sour taste in the mouth in all honesty.
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Old 18-09-20, 09:18 PM   #6504
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+1.
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Old 19-09-20, 12:47 AM   #6505
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With his knee injury he'd had a shite 6 months before his transfer so was glad to see him go as he was stinking the place out.
Mad money from chavs, so yes please. Hilarious (but sad) to see him turn even worse!
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Old 19-09-20, 01:57 AM   #6506
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Another exclusive Torres article..


Whatever we think of him now, and the time since he left, there's absolutely no doubt that he gave us some of the most intoxicating moments of our lives supporting this club.

And as he says now, those moments are maybe more important than trophies.
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Old 19-09-20, 02:49 AM   #6507
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Another exclusive Torres article..

https://twitter.com/MelissaReddy_/st...05192441823232

Whatever we think of him now, and the time since he left, there's absolutely no doubt that he gave us some of the most intoxicating moments of our lives supporting this club.

And as he says now, those moments are maybe more important than trophies.



He really was amazing- that goal he got against chelsea on his debut! Straight away, we knew that we had the real deal!
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Old 19-09-20, 07:17 AM   #6508
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With his knee injury he'd had a shite 6 months before his transfer so was glad to see him go as he was stinking the place out.
Mad money from chavs, so yes please. Hilarious (but sad) to see him turn even worse!
And to be fair those last 6 months were under Hodgson...
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Old 19-09-20, 07:17 AM   #6509
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Another exclusive Torres article..

https://twitter.com/MelissaReddy_/st...05192441823232

Whatever we think of him now, and the time since he left, there's absolutely no doubt that he gave us some of the most intoxicating moments of our lives supporting this club.

And as he says now, those moments are maybe more important than trophies.
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Old 19-09-20, 12:11 PM   #6510
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Another exclusive Torres article..

https://twitter.com/MelissaReddy_/st...05192441823232

Whatever we think of him now, and the time since he left, there's absolutely no doubt that he gave us some of the most intoxicating moments of our lives supporting this club.

And as he says now, those moments are maybe more important than trophies.


100%. I loved him. We were all madly in love with him. Great days, and the wonderful goals he scored, those moments, can never be taken away from us.
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Old 19-09-20, 12:19 PM   #6511
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I'm getting a free six month Amazon Prime sub with my sim card so I might check his series out.
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