Fernando Torres, who today announced his retirement, was a player blessed with skill, pace and a deadly finish.
The 35-year-old arguably enjoyed his best days at Liverpool under the guidance of fellow Spaniard Rafa Benitez though his move to Chelsea proved a bitter pill to swallow for the Reds faithful.
The variety of his goals also mark him out as a modern great and certainly one of the most clinical finishers the Premier League ever saw. Able to get behind the last line of defence with his sheer pace and he was as strong with his right as his left boot. His relationship with Steven Gerrard also reaped huge rewards and the link-play between the pair was often the fulcrum of Liverpool’s attack.
He bookended his 18-year career with stints at Atletico Madrid before a brief stay in Japan, giving his trophy-laden career a pleasing symmetry. Torres was an integral part of the brilliant Spain teams that won the European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup in 2010.
He posted a video on Twitter today explaining: “After 18 exciting years, the time has come to put an end to my football career.” Torres also stated he would explain more at a press conference on Sunday.
Liverpool paid £20million for Torres in 2007 and he rewarded them with 81 goals in 142 games. Signed by Benitez, he was the focal point of an attacking Reds team, netting 33 times in his debut season. That was a record for a debut season at Liverpool - beating Robbie Fowler - until Mo Salah scored 44 in 2017/18.
Torres credited Benitez for helping improve his personal fitness as a way of combating the physical approach of Premier League defenders in contrast to what he had faced in La Liga.
This proved to be the Madrid-born striker’s most prolific spell - he also became the fastest player in Liverpool history to score 50 goals. He carried this amazing club form into the international arena with his performances for Spain earning him places in the FIFA World XI in 2008 and 2009.
He was nominated for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in the season when Cristiano Ronaldo won the award but was named in the PFA Team of the Year.
Torres enjoyed a tremendous record against Manchester United and in 2009 after scoring at Old Trafford he gestured to the fans “five times” with his hand, pointing out Liverpool had won more European Cups than their home team. He also famously got the better of Nemanja Vidic on a number of occasions who was then regarded as the Premier League's top defender.
Many Liverpool fans were heartbroken when he left for Chelsea in 2011 for a then British record transfer fee of £50million and though he is often remembered as something of a let down in a blue shirt, he actually played more games for them than Liverpool and picked up a Champions League winner’s medal. In 172 games he scored 45 goals before rejoining Atletico Madrid via AC Milan where he spent a brief spell on loan.
Torres was on the losing side against Real Madrid in the 2016 Champions League Final but won a Europa League Winner’s medal in 2018.