Like all fans I have clubs and players I love and despise to the very core of my football-shaped heart. Let me first explain the quandary behind my choice of guilty pleasure, before I start to gush about ‘El Nino’.
As a club, I despise Liverpool and most of it’s fanbase. A modern arrogance, fill with self-entitlement founded upon glories achieved in a far-gone age often spews from their mouths. As a result, you can imagine how satisfying the last decade as been for me – Liverpool have pretty much faded from all relevance (Suarez-led title challenge in 2013/14 aside). This is where my internal dilemma comes into play.
I adored watching Fernando Torres during his time at Liverpool. From the first moment he blew past then-Chelsea defender Tal-Ben Haim and scored his first goal for Liverpool – I knew that the Premier League had a new star that I could pour the pain of Thierry Henry’s departure to Barcelona into, and find solace within.
He was surrounded by a distinctly average Liverpool team, yet I could stomach Steve Finnan, Harry Kewell, Ryan Babel and Fabio Aurelio as I knew that I would get to see Torres in full flow. Consistently partnered by Gerrard, who was at the height of his powers during the Spaniard’s tenure – you just knew that Torres would finish most chances laid out for him. The manner of his goals, you saw all sorts. Poachers efforts, screamers from range and Henry-esque goals that saw him glide past opponents at break-need speed. The penalty area was truly his kingdom.
Left-foot, right-foot and his head – all very capable of finishing a chance, a half chance or simply create something magical out of nowhere. He scored against all level of opponents, from Derby and Reading in the Premier League to European giants like Inter Milan and Real Madrid. From his time at Atletico Madrid, where I first discovered him thanks to Football Manager, where he was a 19-year old club captain of a side that had only achieved promotion to La Liga a year or two before.
His constant torment of Chelsea and Manchester United delighted me, luckily he didn’t score as many against Arsenal and when he did – they turned out to be great games. All was forgivable in my goal-drunk love of Torres.
There you have it. An Arsenal fan, who to this day maintains had Torres moved to North London instead of Anfield, Arsenal would have continued to dominate the league for several years.