Fernando Torres has announced his retirement from football after a wildly successful 18-year career. Torres retires as one of the best of his era, winning several major trophies and shining for multiple clubs.
Internationally, Torres won two European Championships – becoming the only player to score in two finals – and the World Cup with Spain. At club level, though there’s little doubt that his best football came with Liverpool.
As Torres retires, we look at five memorable moments from El Niño’s spell at Anfield.
Torres signs for Liverpool
An obvious one but Torres remains one of the club’s biggest signings. The Reds had gone three years without a top striker after Michael Owen left for Real Madrid. Milan Baros, Djibril Cisse, Fernando Morientes, Peter Crouch, Robbie Fowler, Craig Bellamy, and Dirk Kuyt all tried to fill the void but weren’t the right class.
And so Rafa Benitez broke the club record to sign Torres from Atletico Madrid. It was a hugely exciting signing – arguably the most exciting in over a decade. Fortunately, the excitement proved to be well-placed.
Torres scores his first Anfield goal
The first time Anfield got a good look at Torres was when he ran on to the ball at the left-hand corner of the box in front of the Anfield Road end. He then squares up Tal Ben-Haim, drifts past him like the Israeli was a training cone, and rolls the ball into the far corner.
It was immediately obvious that Liverpool had someone special.
Torres embarrasses Nemanja Vidic
Nothing sums up the reputation Torres had built for himself by 2009 like one moment in the 4-1 win at Old Trafford. Vidic, the most reliable defender in the Premier League, had a simple task.
As the ball drifted high towards the halfway line, all he had to do was clear it. Only Torres was running at him and Vidic would uncharacteristically panic in front of the Spaniard, letting it bounce back into his half.
The Serbian would belatedly try to deal with it but Torres got there first, skipping through on goal and dinking it past Edwin van der Sar.
That would have been enough for a fantastic moment but Liverpool’s no.9 then threw up the now-defunct ‘five fingers’ in celebration. It’s undoubtedly the iconic image of Torres’s Anfield career.
Torres scores a worldie against Blackburn Rovers
Torres scored some great goals for Liverpool, although he didn’t quite match his successor, Luis Suarez, in the ‘did he really just do that?’ stakes.
One goal holds up to anything Anfield has seen, however. Jamie Carragher floated the ball into the right-hand channel of the box for Torres to run onto.
Despite running away from the goal, he proceeds to follow it over his shoulder, take it on the chest, and produce a perfect dipping volley into the far corner. An unbelievable goal.
Torres gives one final masterclass
Torres returned from the 2010 World Cup very out of form. He appeared to have lost his pace, didn’t look sharp, and, really, like he didn’t want to be here. Making things more difficult was the fact that this was the worst Liverpool side since before Bill Shankly.
He’d be gone by February 1st but November gave Anfield one final memorable Torres performance. Against, funnily enough, his future employers: Chelsea.
Torres scored twice in a 2-0 win – the undoubted highlight of Roy Hodgson’s unfortunate era – with the second goal a beautiful curling effort from outside the box. He was the best player on the pitch, the star of the show, and it was a final reminder of his class in a Red shirt.
Many more than five
That’s five – although they may be very different from your five. We didn’t even mention his Champions League goals against Marseille and Arsenal. Or his Pele-esque strike against Newcastle United. Or countless others.
As Torres retires, though, we’ll all remember just how good he was for Liverpool. At his peak, he’s one of the very best we’ve seen at Anfield.