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Fernando Torres


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I can proudly confirm I made some personal attempt to get him out of Chelsea. Went to the Wolfsburg game in Constance today and tried to convince them to buy Torres. tried everything from screaming to

In the 90s Blackburn was the first club to win the Premiership after a serious money injection. They called it "winning with a credit card". Credit cards are made out of plastic therefore Blackburn fa

Being shit on purpose to deflect criticism from his teammates and manager ... Because he's the hero Chelsea deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Bec

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Someone coming close to telling the truth about Fernando.

I got so much stick for telling people that Nando was a very ordinary footballer. Got called an idiot and worse. I was so depressed the day we signed him and now Carragher confirms what Danny Murphy had previously admitted. Liverpool people knew the reality. Of course they did.

Why do I say Carragher only comes close to the truth? Because he perpetuates the myth that Nando was ever a top player. He had a brief good period at Liverpool but that was very much the exception across the whole of his career. The rest of his time tells of what he really was as a footballer.

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The many regrets of Fernando Torres

https://theathletic.com/2065004/2020/09/17/fernando-torres-liverpool-chelsea-regrets-simeone/

The many regrets of Fernando Torres – The Athletic

If there is a turning point in the arc of Fernando Torres’s career, it becomes clearer in the Amazon Prime documentary about him released tomorrow that it’s not the moment he leaves Liverpool for Chelsea in January 2011. It is 10 months earlier, when he jumps for a header against Benfica at Anfield and falls, immediately feeling a sensation in his knee — “something clicking, out of whack”.

It was a World Cup year and Spain were favourites to win it. The tournament was two months away but Torres was not thinking about that 10 minutes into the Europa League quarter-final second leg, especially with Liverpool trailing from the first game in Lisbon. The proof is there, he says, because he remained on the pitch, scoring two goals to help send Rafa Benitez’s side through. “I kept playing because I could.”

Half an hour after the final whistle, however, panic had set in. The swelling around his knee had ballooned. With immediate scans inconclusive, it was arranged for him to visit the world-renowned surgeon Dr Ramon Cugat in Barcelona, only for the appointment to be delayed by the volcanic eruption in Iceland that led to flights being grounded across Europe.

Torres decided he still had to travel. It remains unclear whether a chauffeur was involved in the 1,200-mile drive that took nearly the whole weekend, with a Saturday night spent in a hotel outside Paris. It was surely a journey that could not have done his joints much good but at least his wife was there too. Torres was going to go alone before Olalla, nearly halfway through her second pregnancy, insisted that she went as well, along with their first child Nora, who was 10 months old and strapped to a baby seat.

Torres was exhausted when he reached Cugat’s clinic late on the Sunday night but within three hours, the operation was done. He told Cugat, “If you have to remove the meniscus entirely, you have to do it. I don’t mind what price, I have to play in the World Cup because I know Spain can win it.”

Torres would miss the end of a club campaign where the Europa League trail ended at the semi-final stage against his old team, and first love, Atletico Madrid. More significantly for a club facing acute financial pressures, Liverpool’s seventh-place finish in the Premier League meant the following season would not involve Champions League participation for the first time in seven seasons (they had ended up in the Europa League in 2009-10 because they finished third in their Champions League group).

At the time, Torres was accused of prioritising Spain but he insists he had no other option — he would have needed surgery before he was able to represent Liverpool again anyway. By the middle of that April, his focus was entirely on the World Cup. Having left Cugat’s clinic after midnight, he started his rehab at 8am next day. Meanwhile, Vicente del Bosque, Spain’s manager, devised a training plan geared towards a return in the knockout stages in South Africa and Torres agreed it was a “great” idea because “the objective was to be ready for the final”.

When Spain lost their opening group game to Switzerland, though, Del Bosque was forced into a rethink. This led to Torres starting against Honduras in the next match, playing for 70 minutes. With a victory required against Chile in the final group game to secure qualification, Torres was selected again in a 2-1 victory. But that 55-minute appearance had a consequence — the next morning, he was draining fluid from his knee.

From that point, Torres accepted that he would only be able to play with pain. He lasted less than an hour against both Portugal and Paraguay, and was considered by Del Bosque only fit enough to be brought on late in the semi-final with Germany.

He also came off the bench to play a role in the build-up to Andreas Iniesta’s extra-time winner against Holland in the final, but injury forced him to leave the pitch again with seconds remaining. When the final whistle was blown, and Spain became world champions for the first time in their history, Torres was in the dressing room crying tears of regret, not joy.

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A doctor convinced him to get back out on the pitch and join the celebrations but the footage of him attempting to seem happy is difficult to watch. Later, yet more scans proved Torres had sustained a small tear in his thigh but even a decade on, his advisor Antonio Sanz believes the injury was all in his head because he “could see he could not give his all and it was so overwhelming. It was an emotional muscle”.

“It wasn’t how I’d imagined becoming a world champion,” Torres reflects. It was the first time in his life when he doubted whether hard work was always the solution, “whether it was worth it to sacrifice everything for a single moment”. He had thought with his heart rather than his head to get to where he wanted to be.

Up until the age of 26, Torres felt capable of achieving anything, but racing to be fit for the 2010 World Cup had changed his mindset. “Looking back now, it might not have been a very smart decision,” says a player who was to leave Anfield for Stamford Bridge six months after that final.

Torres does not say it explicitly but you come to appreciate the highest point in his career was two summers earlier, in 2008, when he scored the goal that clinched Spain’s first European Championship in 44 years.

That was when he was considered an extremely important figure for Liverpool and Spain. He was respected and loved. He was moderately successful and this meant more people were wanting him to do well than not. Four years later, he was a European champion with Spain for a second time but his reputation had shifted dramatically.

Though he had emerged as hugely successful, he was less important for club and country. He was reviled by Liverpool supporters after leaving for Stamford Bridge in early 2011 but when he missed an open goal for Chelsea away to Manchester United, satisfaction did not reside only on Merseyside.

Chelsea had ultimately lavished a British record sum on damaged goods.

At Liverpool, Torres was another victim of the turmoil that threatened to send the club into administration. He would miss 14 league games, mainly through injury, in 2008-09 as Liverpool came second in the league — some miracle, considering the mess behind the scenes.

The following Premier League campaign, he was absent 16 times. These were small, short-term setbacks. The restrictions on Liverpool and the reliance on him meant he would rush back too quickly.

He was unable to commit to training as much as he had in the past and, to some team-mates, this translated as a lack of interest. Though he still scored goals, his performances suffered. He was wary of sprinting and pulling up again, so he learnt to adjust his movement. Some supporters translated it as a sign he did not want to be there.

In his documentary, Torres says there was a meeting where he was promised that the squad would be improved. He says both Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano were subsequently sold in the same summer — in fact, Alonso went in 2009 and Mascherano a year later, which either shows you that he has blanked 2009-10 from his memory or that, by then, his mind was not really at Liverpool. In fairness to Torres, Mascherano made it clear he was pushing for a move in 2008 as well.

Torres wanted to go to Chelsea because he thought it would get him “closer to what I wanted”. After the second takeover at Liverpool in three and a half years, he felt the club had lost its institutional memory — that nobody at a decision-making level off-field was “taking care of Liverpool, the fans or the players”.

He thought it would be a long way back, believing the team had regressed dramatically since his arrival. His injuries had accelerated his sense of haste, making him realise that his body would not wait forever for him to realise his sporting ambitions.

In three and a half seasons at Anfield, where he arrived as the club’s record signing, his 81 goals yielded no trophies.

There is special resentment for Damien Comolli, appointed as director of football in November 2010, because he supposedly made it quite clear to Torres that money generated from his potential sale would increase Liverpool’s options in the transfer market. Torres wanted winners’ medals but nobody at Liverpool was capable of convincing him they would arrive any time soon. Not only that, but his departure was also potentially viewed as a significant feature of a major rebuilding programme.

Perhaps Torres sounds naive. “I felt they stabbed me in the back,” he says, referring to the way his private discussions with club officials were framed in the press — where there were no suggestions that anyone else other than Torres wanted a separation. Five years later, during the long-running battle between Mill Financial, former owner George Gillett and the Royal Bank of Scotland, a New York courtroom heard that both Torres and goalkeeper Pepe Reina were viewed by Fenway Sports Group as “probably beyond their primes”. Given that, you can understand a little more why he felt a sense of betrayal and subsequently handed in a transfer request to push his exit closer.

Chelsea proved to be the most successful period of Torres’s career, winning the FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League, but he says it was his least happy one.

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Doubts about his physical capacity and even his ability crept into his consciousness. There was fear, “feelings I’ve never had before”. Though he clings onto the goal in Barcelona that sent Chelsea through to their first Champions League final victory as an outstanding memory and proof of his contribution towards the club’s history, it is not mentioned that even without his stoppage-time effort securing a 2-2 draw, they’d probably have gone through on away goals anyway.

He had felt a sense of belonging at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool. But at Chelsea, he was just another player with no defined role in the hierarchy of the dressing room.

“I didn’t know how to earn that spot and they didn’t create it for me,” he says.


The documentary — Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol — is directed primarily towards the Spanish market where his nickname remains “El Nino” (The Kid), even though he is now 36 years old and has retired from playing. It would be interesting to hear what Diego Simeone thinks of such a title, considering how woven his personality is into the psyche of Atletico Madrid. There was conflict, too, in the pair’s relationship, as revealed by the documentary.

Simeone was behind Torres’s return to Atletico from AC Milan in 2016 before leaving for Japanese club Sagan Tosu in 2018. But there is a sense the Argentinian would have let him leave again sooner had it not been for the intervention of the club’s president, who called a meeting when Simeone rather abruptly announced that Torres would not be receiving a new contract offer.

Torres had idolised Simeone as a child but he assumed the role of captain ahead of him when they were team-mates between 2003 and 2005. Responsibilities and moods had changed considerably by the time Torres moved to Japan. Torres offered the impression that Simeone lacked empathy and communication skills. “The only way to engage with him is through hard work,” he says.

Torres appears to be holding back words in the documentary… the same, it is fair to say, cannot be said about his long-time advisor. Sanz practically spits out Simeone’s name when he talks about what went wrong. Torres could just about accept being on the bench for matches but Simeone sometimes left him out of squads altogether, the striker says, without any explanation. Simeone, who contributes to the documentary, says he and Torres had a “very sincere” conversation in front of Atletico chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin and this helped the situation — though Torres does not back that feeling up.

He would leave Atletico a few months later as a double Europa League winner and having scored twice in his final home game in La Liga — 17 years after his first goal, aged just 17. The gap is a reminder that Torres spent as much time in his career at other clubs as he did at Atletico. Away from Madrid, he certainly came to symbolise something in each of the places he went to but not necessarily in a positive way (as the name of the documentary implies).

Torres takes satisfaction from his status at Atletico but his story there is a theme of unfulfillment and sadness. It is a recurring pattern. He considered retiring in 2016, but only if Atletico beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final, which he describes as “the most important match of my career”, eclipsing anything he achieved with Spain. They lost on penalties. He will also only ever be able to wonder what it was like to win La Liga, a feat engineered by Simeone two years earlier. This was at a point in Torres’s career when Jose Mourinho did not make him feel wanted at Chelsea.

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Torres is serious, introverted and modest, but he was always aware of his talent and value. Critics might combine such characteristics and conclude that he lacks charisma. It would be understandable if his personality suffered as a consequence of a rise that was so early and rapid that any natural course of development would have been impossible for a teenager put in that position. Atletico were in the second division when he entered their first team. He became not only a symbol of hope but also an object of public property. His experiences have been incredible but they have also been very narrow and, ultimately, marginalising.

The same could be said of Michael Owen, though he has never seemed to understand why Liverpool supporters would object to him signing for Manchester United. Torres, at least, seems to appreciate why his name in Merseyside (in some quarters) still summons a very different spirit compared to Madrid.

In Spain, he would never have signed for Real Madrid despite the efforts of different presidents. In England, he would never have signed for United. Now, he realises the pool of clubs that both wanted and could have afforded him was small in 2011 but, on reflection, it would have been better for his reputation had he moved to another country.

On Tuesday morning, Amazon hosted a press conference with Torres at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium via a private online feed and he was asked about what he symbolises away from the club he loves. He described his relationship with Liverpool as a brief but intense one and reasoned that whenever there is an end like his, there is a feeling of rejection and rage.

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He believes Liverpool’s fanbase now understands better why he chose to leave but admits the supporters’ treatment of him “hurt”… but only “because I could not stop loving them”. Had he been a supporter — with the club slanting his departure as solely his responsibility — “I would have heckled as well”. But he stresses: “My affection for Liverpool remains even if they never forgive me.”

It is wondered in Madrid whether he’ll return to Atletico one day as president — or even as a replacement for Simeone — though he insists, “It will be years until I am ready and trained.”

For the first time in his adult life, it does not feel as if he is in a rush — the sort that came to undermine his rise as a footballer where he went in pursuit of success only to realise it did not bring satisfaction.

“Throughout my career, I always thought when I left football and looked back years later, I’d remember the trophies,” he says. “I didn’t realise how wrong I was.”

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