Fernando Torres admits 'desperation' to win trophy for Liverpool fans

02 October 2009 09:22
'Well done,' he said, after one pre-season outing. 'I was really pleased with the way you attacked the near post for the corners. You are improving a lot.'

The story may or may not be apocryphal, but its existence is indicative of life within Benítez's orbit. Torres himself admits he cannot remember talking to his manager on a subject other than football, while even players as focused and ambitious as Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard have confessed that his praise is nigh-on impossible to earn.

 Related ArticlesChelsea v Liverpool: match previewManchester United face £20m fee for Gary CahillMichael Owen on course to face LiverpoolFernando Torres: I'd never play for UnitedBabel afraid of missing World CupTorres, though, would not blanch at his manager's single-mindedness. To some, the former Valencia coach's apparent lack of a personal touch would be a cause for concern, grounds for complaint. Not so Torres. Player and manager share an insatiable appetite for work, an endless desire for self-improvement. There is an element of kindred spirit about them.

'He is always pushing you, because that is the best way to improve,' he says. 'The day after games, he pushes you, especially if you have scored some goals. He says you are not doing your job, that you have to work more.

'You can either say he wants to make you better or you can think he wants to kill you, but it's just because he wants what is best for all of us. I am the same. I always want to play better, play more games, play more minutes, score more goals. A player should always think about how he can improve, and after two years, I can honestly say I am a better player thanks to him.'

It is not just with his manager's obsessive perfectionism that Torres is comfortable. Liverpool, for all its vibrancy and self-confidence, can hardly compete with the glamour or romanticism of Madrid. For some exotic arrivals, that has posed a problem. For Torres, it serves only to make the club more attractive.

Torres is personable and intelligent, but he does not seek stardom. His autobiography, El Niño: My Story, eulogises the cathartic experiences of building DIY furniture after a defeat, or enjoying a Flake 99 with raspberry sauce, no doubt to the chagrin of Liverpool's nutritionists while strolling along Crosby beach. He has commercial tie-ins, as do all players, but he still took the time to record an advert for a small Galician hair salon, near to the resort where he and Olalla, his wife, first met. There was no magazine deal for his wedding shots, only close friends and family invited to an intimate ceremony.

Torres, brought up in the working-class district of Fuenlabrada in Madrid's suburbs, sees the virtues his parents imbued in him, of diligence and discipline, of respect of self and others, mirrored in his adopted home.

'I feel like one of the people here,' he says.

'I could barely do anything in Madrid, because I was not playing for the strongest team and 80 per cent of the people support Real. It was hard just to go for a walk, for a meal or to see a film because people do not have the same respect for players that they do here. It was difficult if I was anywhere other than at home.

'Here, though, I can do almost everything I want. I can walk in the park or by the Albert Dock. People recognise you, and they wish me luck, but they have a respect for you. I think they're happy with me and I hope to win trophies and give them everything I can in return.'

For all that the fusion of player, manager and city have turned Torres from raw hopeful into global superstar, his mantelpiece remains bare. The individual milestones have been passed 33 goals in 34 Anfield appearances and 46 in 64 for the club in total but they are of little consolation. Since 2008, Torres has had the scent of glory in his nostrils. He admits winning the European Championship with Spain, his goal clinching the country's first honour since 1964 and securing his own apotheosis, has served simply to whet his appetite. 'There is a desperation to win a trophy for the fans,' he says. 'I know how important it is for me and for them. Going four years without a trophy would be a massive blow for the club.

'Now I know how you feel after winning something big, thanks to the European Championship with Spain, and it will be the same or even better to win something with Liverpool. It would be my first at club level. I am still young though, only 25.

'I spoke to Carles Puyol about it and he said he was 24 at Barcelona and had not won anything. Now he has won everything. He told me to be patient. We know it will come and that when it does, the next one will come soon.

'It will be difficult, though, because Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City all have very good players, and we are not the richest club in the world and unfortunately, in football, you need money to be strong. It is easy when you have money to spend on top players. But we have other things, different strengths. We have to do it another way.

'One of the things that made me come here was the mentality of the club. It is a working club like last season at Stamford Bridge, where we believed in ourselves, played as a team and won. If we think we can win in every single stadium, we can do it.'

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Source: Telegraph