Posted on February 24, 2008
Fernando Torres would prefer Liverpool fans to remember him for titles, not just goals after he took his tally to 21 for the season with a hat trick against Middlesborough.
Torres was the local hero at Atletico Madrid, and now he has proved inside just seven months to be worth every penny of his record fee, with this already the best-ever goals tally for a season in his career.
Here is the genuine article. The classic, instinctive goalscorer with the film star looks to go with blistering talent in his feet.
It has taken him just those seven months to reach 21 goals in 31 games, the first Liverpool forward to achieve that total in a campaign since Michael Owen five years ago.
The hat-trick against Middlesbrough destroyed an effective, organised team who felt they deserved more for their efforts.
Torres had already managed a previous trio in a Liverpool shirt, the one bagged in September at Reading in the Carling Cup.
But this was different. It was his first at Anfield, finished off in front of an adoring Kop. Those fans have finally got a hero to potentially match the exploits of Ian Rush.
And the Spaniard, 23, insists he wants more, with a very clear idea of his objectives at Liverpool, saying: “I know the fans enjoyed the hat-trick and so did I.
“It was fantastic to score in front of the Kop. I am very comfortable playing here and I am very, very happy with my first hat-trick at this ground.
“It is important though, that we win titles. I would prefer to be remembered for the titles rather than my goals.
“I would prefer that more than anything else, and I am happy with the way I have learned to cope with the physical side of the English game.
“When I was in Madrid and watching English games on TV, I could see how difficult it would be to play here.
“There are so many strong defenders. But I have settled, I have scored goals and I have coped with the physical side.
“Even if it is true that I would not be getting hit in the back all the time in Spain!
“But I have scored 21 goals already, and we have a minimum of 14 games more in the Premier League and the Champions League, and I aim to score a lot more.
“It has been a very good season for me already, and yes, I would be happy now with 30, but I am more happy when the team wins.
“I have not won anything yet, just for the under-18s and under-19s in Madrid. It is a long time ago and I have come to Liverpool to win things.
“My target is titles, not just goals. I don’t know when, this season or the next but I will want that.
“I hope I stay here for a long time. I have a six-year contract so I have every intention of being here a long time, and if everything continues okay maybe I will want to sign for more.”
Even with his current deal, he could still be at Anfield when he is approaching 28, and at this rate of goal scoring he could be well into the hundreds by then.
He added: “It was only the second hat-trick of my career so it was a great moment for me.
“But we knew that we had to start winning home games if we want to finish in the top four.”
That top four objective was achieved, a position they have not held for six weeks.
And boss Benitez knows he has struck gold with Torres. Benitez said: “He will score plenty more. We signed him because we believed he had the quality, pace and strength for the Premier League. Also, because he is young, he can grow and improve.
“He has adapted to the physical side of the English game very well. He is strong and can cope with big defenders.
“In Spain he would not continually be hit from the back, but we knew he would not be afraid of the centerbacks, he would be brave and cope with that style of defending.”