Its Saturday lunchtime kick off, Anfield is the venue, the scouters patiently awaiting its next prey in the name of Blackburn Rovers FC for lunch at Merseyside. Captain Slippery Gerrard, sorry Captain Steven Gerrard leads the red army onto the pitch, Torres was going to be in his usual menacing and irresistible mood. A win for the Reds keeps them within range for the English Premier League title 2008/2009 season. The Referee signals and the game is on Live, not long Into this high tempo fixture Gerrard lays a telepathic long range pass to Torres who controls the ball brilliantly, held up the Rover defender, turns around and hits a volley to the top right hand corner, the Goalkeeper had no answer to that, Liverpool where 1 goal up, within 10minutes, that was Fernando Torres at his menacing best. The commentators on the day exclaimed ‘What a beauty of a goal from the fantastic Spanish attacker”. Those words sums up how brilliant a player El Nino was at that time that he was considered and voted the third best player in the world by FIFA.
Oooh “how are the mighty fallen”, barely 8months after that performance as was expected Roman Abramovich rolled out the Cheque book for Carlo Ancelloti who had just won the double the season before to bring in Torres to add more firepower to Chelsea’s attack and complete the jigsaw for the Russians fantasy team. Torres was a clinical finisher who had terrorised EPL and European defenders with reckless abandon, Liverpool cashed in, Kenny Daglish and the Liverpool Board smiled to the bank, they just sold Roman a dummy, in the words of my co-bar soccer analyst colleague he said “Liverpool selling Torres to Chelsea was like Range Rover selling you a car without the manual”. What Liverpool did with the proceeds of the sale of Torres is another discussion for another day as Andy Carroll and the Enigmatic Luis Suarez were bought as replacements.
Torres Chelsea career began in earnest he was simply abysmal in his first seven games and the criticisms started pouring in, this was no longer the Torres of Liverpool who dribbled past defenders and scored for the fun of it, this was a new Fernando Torres who had become impotent in front of goal and gone through barren spells without goal. He finally broke his scoreless streak on a wet Sunday against West Ham much to the relief of the Chelsea fans and of course his pay masters, was that to signal the return to form of El Nino? Am sorry No, that goal was just a stop gap and what he needed to get back to his new found status. Glaring misses started pouring in and became his trademark, the vapour of El Nino’s reputation as one of Europe deadliest strikers began to evaporate into the stands and ambience of Stamford Bridge.
Torres endeared another unproductive season concurrently these performances marked a watershed in his professional career as the once revered and feared striker had become a laughing stock amongst Chelsea fans, his name became synonymous with goal gaffes and glaring misses. Against Manchester United in 2011, I remember watching that game at a bar in Milton Keynes, Torres dribbled pass the United defenders and past David Gea but the goal went begging, Torres just did a TORRES and he blazed the ball in to the Sir Alex Ferguson stand that left supporters in great disbelief at what just happened. The last straw I believe came in Slovenia yesterday during a pre-season friendly, young Nathan Ake had laid an excellent through ball for Torres only for El Nino to chest the ball over the cross bar from 2yards the Chelsea players were in Utter disbelief (why should they be?) even the young Ake. Torres always looks emotionally and psychologically traumatized and he is in need of help and this help has to come in form of seeking a transfer to his boyhood club which he captained at a tender age and scored so many goals, made his name there at Vicente Calderon. Torres needs to go back to Atletico Madrid if he is to get back to his best again, well I do not think he can play like he used too as his days in Liverpool but he surely deserves to be happy again, and home seems to be where he will get such happiness. No player in football has ever recovered from such deep in form and came back stronger than they were and I don’t think El Nino can, I hope he proves me wrong, he deserves to be happy once again like he was in Anfield.
By Omeiza Dawodu