Torres: “I am very, very happy”

Liverpool’s new signing Fernando Torres spoke to the press
and to the official site yesterday after he became Liverpool’s club-record
signing in a £20m deal. The former Atletico Madrid player had signed a six-year
contract, worth £90,000 per week.

Torres said to the official site: “I am very, very happy.
This was the biggest decision of my footballing life but I’ve come to a winning
club. This is a club of champions – one of the biggest there is. I now want to
play my part in that and be a champion too and help the club progress. Obviously
growing up in Spain you are aware of all the big clubs there, but you also keep
an eye on Europe, and Liverpool always catches the eye. It always did for me.”

It seems Torres has had his eye on Anfield for some time: “I
had older brothers who’d tell me about the likes of Keegan and Rush, but the
first players I remember seeing as a fan are players like Robbie Fowler. My
main memory is seeing Liverpool’s incredible record in Europe, and I certainly
followed that closely.”

Behind the scenes it seems Torres himself had made it known
to Atletico that he wanted to leave for a new challenge. He wasn’t interested
in going anywhere else: “I was aware of offers from other clubs but as soon as
I knew Liverpool were interested I said to Atletico: ‘Look, please listen to
this offer.’ There were many clubs being banded around. Offers go directly to Atletico,
so I wouldn’t necessarily know about them, but as soon as I heard about
Liverpool, I told them that Anfield was the only place I was interested in.”

Asked why Liverpool
were so important to him he said: “I’m aware of the history and how special
this club is. The tragedies that have happened have made the bond between the
fans and the club so strong. Liverpool just ticks all the boxes for me. There’s
team spirit and a desire to win instilled by Rafa, and then there’s my new
teammates like Pepe and Xabi. They, as well as Luis, have always spoken very
positively about life here in Liverpool.” Torres has spent a lot of time with
Liverpool’s existing Spanish internationals, including Luis Garcia who went in
the opposite direction on Monday. He says he hadn’t spoken to them recently
though: “I didn’t speak to them directly before signing because it all happened
so quickly. I’ve been getting planes here, there and everywhere. My other half
has spoken to Pepe’s other half though. She said: ‘We’re here for you. Let us
know if there is anything you need.'”

A well-known picture of Torres showed the striker had been
wearing a special captain’s armband during a game against Real Sociedad last
season. The armband had a message inside that wasn’t meant to be seen, but when
it came loose the words, “Never Walk Alone” could clearly be seen, although
there was some dispute over whether the first word was “You’ll” or “We’ll”.
Torres explained: “There is a group of my mates, about five or six of us, and
we’ve all grown up supporting Liverpool. Because they are all so committed to
Liverpool, they’ve had We’ll Never
Walk Alone tattooed on their arms. It’s changed slightly because it’s a symbol
of our friendship as well as our support for the club. Obviously I couldn’t
have that tattooed on my arm playing for Atletico, but they gave me this
armband as a present for my last birthday.”

Torres has been linked with a move away from Madrid
practically every summer, so what was it that made him finally move on this
time: “The time is right because Liverpool have come in for me. You have
certain chances in life. You can’t afford to miss them because they only come
around once. I’ve been with Atletico since I was 10; I’ve grown up as a person
and a player there. But we haven’t been getting the opportunities to play in
Europe and I think I now need to take that step up.”

What was interesting
was to hear how much respect Torres had for Liverpool and his new boss Rafa Benítez.
Torres seems very much a modest player, embarrassed at having to big himself up
when asked how he knows he’ll be a success. On Rafa he said: “The first time I
spoke to him, I was convinced. Just to know Rafa has confidence in me and
trusts me is massive. I feel honoured because Liverpool are such a big club,
they could have signed anyone. I am very pleased they have chosen me!”

As for playing at
Anfield in front of the Kop: “I’ve spoken to many people about it and watched
many DVDs, but you can’t possibly know what it feels like to play at Anfield
until you have experienced it. I am dying to play in front of the Kop.”

After saying goodbye to one set of adoring fans in Madrid
that morning Torres had a message for a new set of adoring fans: “I just want
to say thank-you, because from today, day one, people have been trying to meet
me at Melwood. I’ve also seen some at the airport. They all seem to be behind
me, so I want to say thank-you very much.”

Speaking at the press conference Torres said he felt sure he’d
made the right choice: “I’m convinced it’s the right decision and hopefully
this will be the year where things happen quickly and we win trophies and
things turn out well personally for me. I’m aware that the expectations are
really high and that people are very keen to see me score lots of goals, but
I’m just as keen to fulfil all their hopes and desires and I’m confident that I
will have the necessary ammunition. I’m playing in a top side and that gives me
the confidence to be positive about the challenge.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Torres said: “I don’t have
any fear of this responsibility and it’s not something that worries me unduly.
I know that with hard work you can overcome the pressure and reach your targets
reasonably well. The fact that they have given me the legendary No 9 shirt that
has been worn by so many great players shows they have confidence in me and
that brings great responsibility.”

Again Torres confirmed that only Liverpool could tempt him
to move on from the club he joined as a boy: “It’s true I have had offers in
the past, but this is the very first time I’ve asked Atletico to listen to any
of those offers,” he said. “This is the first time I have been tempted to
leave. Liverpool are a massive club and they could literally approach anyone in
the world of football, so to approach me was very special. When you hear a club
like Liverpool is interested in you it is something that fills you with a lot
of surprise and a lot of pride.”