Just over 11 years ago now (March 11 2008), I found myself standing in the away end of The San Siro watching Liverpool dump Inter Milan out of the European Cup by way of a 1-0 defeat (3-0 aggregate) thanks to a 64th minute stunner from Fernando Torres. Along with Steven Gerrard, Torres and the reds put on a masterclass in Milan to become the fourth English side in the quarter finals of the competition. That night, we all fell in love with Fernando a little bit more. We had, within our midst, a world class goal scorer who was capable of turning any match on its head in a heartbeat along with a distinct ability to score big goals in big games. Life was bliss and the reds were marching on. What could possibly go wrong?
Fast forward to early 2011 and, with 65 goals from 102 appearances under his belt, Chelsea had taken our Fernando away amid a flurry of transfer window action which left many of us stunned and perplexed. The £50 MILLION bid was accepted on January 31st and before you could blink, he was gone. Fernando would return a measly 20 goals from some 110 appearances for Chelsea during his four and a half year stay in London. He wasn’t the same player but he did win some silverware along the way during an injury plagued stint at Stamford Bridge. Winning trophies was what he wanted and, with Chelsea, he got what he wanted.
How could you not hate him?
For a long time, I held a good deal of resentment towards Fernando. A vulgar picture had been painted of him from behind the scenes at Liverpool which led to an incredible amount of abuse every time he stepped out against the red men. I even went out of my way to stop and pose for a photo with his image whilst passing by Stamford Bridge in 2012. I just couldn’t help myself! Why on earth would he want to jump ship at Anfield and move to a club that were essentially writing their own history off the back of dirty Russian money?
Fernando had shown visible signs of misery in his final weeks with Liverpool. You kind of knew something was up.
It’s been well documented in recent times as to why Torres was unhappy at the end of his Liverpool stay. The clubs new owners felt he was past his prime and even the back room staff had turned on him including Damien Comolli, then the clubs director of football, and other board members. Torres was essentially trying his best to stay yet, the club did all they could to push him away and paint him as a villain. Something they did very successfully.
Mending the wounds.
Following his departure from Anfield, Fernando made 248 appearances for Chelsea, AC Milan, Athletico Madrid (2nd spell) and Sagan Tosu and returned just 51 goals. Perhaps, as it turns out, the new Liverpool owners were correct in their assumption that Torres was well past his best. It’s something we will never know of course. What I have learned is that Torres had Liverpool FC in his best interests all the way. He wasn’t the nasty money grabbing “lady boy” as some of our supporters (myself included) had come to view him as.
Fernando recently turned 35 and still looks as cool and stylish as he always has done. With so much water under the (Stamford) bridge, I can’t help but think that it’s time to admit we (the supporters) got it terribly wrong with our judgment of El Niño. Looking back over his time with Liverpool, it’s clear he deserves to be placed in the class of Anfield icons. It might have taken us a little longer to see this for what it is but our lovers tiff is surely over?
Happy belated birthday Fernando! And thank you for that magical night in the away end all those years ago in Milan!
Todavia te quiero!