Liverpool legend, Fernando Torres, made a surprise announcement last Friday that he would be retiring from football after 18 years in the game.
The 35-year-old who was most recently playing for Japanese club, Sagan Tosu, held a press conference in Tokyo and revealed to journalists that he felt he was on the verge of no longer being able to physically or mentally meet his own personal standards and expectations. During the conference he stated, “I do not want to get to the stage where I go on the pitch and do not enjoy football.”
Despite being involved with a number of other clubs throughout his career, El Nino undeniably experienced the greatest days of his footballing profession with Liverpool. Having joined The Reds in 2007, Torres became a notorious goal scorer for the club, scoring a total of 24 league goals in one season. This made Torres the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler to achieve such a feat.
During his first year at the club, he managed to score his first hat trick against Reading, resulting in a 4-2 victory. This was then followed by a number of other hat tricks; one in February 2008 against Middleburgh and again in March 2008 against West Ham. Jack Balmer was the only other Liverpool player to score a hat trick in consecutive home games.
Torres initially played for Atletico Madrid at the mere age of 15 and remained there for 6 years before leaving for Liverpool. Although he had ties to Atleti, with it being the team adored by his Grandfather, Torres had a huge impact on The Reds from the get go, consistently performing match after match. During 2009, The Times listed him as one of the top 50 greatest Liverpool players, despite only being part of the club for one and a half years. Rankings such as this goes to evidence the immediate effect that he had on the club.
Even with the great success he experienced with Liverpool, Torres eventually transferred to Chelsea in 2011, signing a £50 million deal. This deal made him one of the world’s most expensive footballers and crushed the hearts of not only Liverpool fans but also his fellow team members. The news shocked Liverpool fans and many viewed Torres as a traitor – especially with The Blues being The Reds’ ultimate rivals!
Many will argue that Torres was simply not the same player when he joined The Blues. There were no moments of magic, no camaraderie, no club breaking records. A perfect example being his total goal figures at each club. He collectively scored 81 goals with Liverpool as opposed to just 45 with The Blues. No doubt, there will be some committed Kopites out there who never quite forgave him for shifting over to the opposition.
Despite his controversial decision, El Nino is clearly a respected and valued figure within football. Both Liverpool and Chelsea have publicly stated that they wish him well in his retirement and posted montages of some of his greatest moments on social media.
One of the most endearing aspects to El Nino’s time at Liverpool was perhaps the great relationship he had with his team mates. During the conference, Torres mentioned how it “left him cold” when he first discovered that Stephen Gerrard would be retiring. He labelled Gerrard as the best player he has ever played with and credited him for some of his success on the pitch. There was always a mutual, bromance-like respect between Torres and Gerrard. Who can forget the touching moment when Gerrard handed him the match ball after his hat trick against West Ham, earning the team a 4-0 victory. This moment truly depicted the admiration that he had during his time at Liverpool. Arguably, that same magic was never present during his other endeavours and I’m sure many fans are of the opinion that he should never have left.
Regardless of the multiple transfers and offers throughout his glistening career, Torres made it clear during his announcement that he does not regret any of his professional choices. Some have speculated that perhaps the decision to retire came about due to his less successful stints at other clubs, namely his most recent one. Having joined the club in July 2018, he has not even managed a full year there. Sagan Tosu, although not a household name like his other clubs, Torres stated that the team has great potential and that they have a lot of great players. He added that he experienced a culture shock upon his arrival and that there is still “tremendous margin for improvement. He then finally confirmed that the decision to retire was purely guided by feelings rather than how he has performed at Sagan Tosu.
When asked what would next be on the cards, he mentioned that he firstly wants to take some time out to rest and be with his family. With the millions he has made over the years, he understandably wants to enjoy the fruits of his labour. He then stated that eventually coaching or management could be a possibility in the future. He acknowledged his lack of experience and that he would need to obtain the relevant qualifications. Ultimately, his desire is to remain within football in some capacity as he declared that he still has “more to offer”.
He also expressed that he was keen to reconnect with Atleti, declaring that it is his family, his home and his life. Due to the years of history that he has with the team, he mentioned that they “would connect in some way in the future but not immediately”.
Although thousands of football fans will undoubtedly miss not seeing him on the field, we can all appreciate the years of fantastic football that El Nino has given to us and we wish him all the best in his next chapter.