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I was sick of listening to the "Champions League" anthem on the telly

It was one of the main reasons why he left home. The European adventure was proving to be too elusive season after season and he's had to sign for Liverpool to realize it.

"I had imagined many times before how the first day would be like. I always dreamed that it would come at Atletico but it wasn't meant to be. Yesterday at last I heard the Champions League music live and not on the TV. If you knew how many matches I've watched before in front of the TV set dreaming of this day. I also remember being at El Calderón [as a fan] for the CL games after the double [in '96]. I can't forget Dani's goal for Ajax, I was about 12 at the time...

Three debuts in a week

It will be a very difficult month of August to forget for Fernando Torres. Everything is flying past him.

"I haven't even had the time to really talk think about it or talk about it. Yesterday was my Premier League debut and we came away with the win, yesterday it was the Champions League and we also won, and on sunday i will step in Anfield for the first time to play a match. Everybody tells me that until I listen to "You'll Never Walk Alone" inside our stadium it's as if I've never really heard it properly. I almost get no time to enjoy each step im taking and it will be the same for the whole season, because we also have to play with the national team".

His team-mates have already told him all their CL stories. And they have plenty since they've played two of the last three finals. They won it at Istanbul and lost it in Athens.

"It's the lucky talisman competition for Liverpool. They've won five. They tell me that it's a team that have always known how to face up a knock-out competition. It's a tradition. But it's curious that I come here thinking about the Champions League because it's a special competition for me but in the team everybody is thinking about the Premier. It must be because many of them won at Istanbul but they've never won the league. By the way, neither have I. The club hasn't done it for 17 years and here everyone believes this could be the year".

Benitez embraces him and believes in him

So far, with a very busy pre-season, he hasn't had the time to quite settle in Liverpool. The team nor the city. But his outlook couldn't be more positive. In the dressing room he has been very welcomed. Benitez is more convinced every day that he has gotten it right with his signing. Yesterday, for example, at Toulouse's Sofitel he was sincere with ABC.

"I'm happy with his performance. We're just getting started. Everything is very new for him but he is taking it all in very naturally. He realizes that this is a different world. That is very different to what he has experienced before. He knows that he is at a very big club and destined to do great things. He must be patient, take it a step at a time. Here, the English press will smother him, especially when he doesn't score goals. But we're very calm. At least he is and that is very important".

Professor, dressing room and the stretcher

The manager wants to squeeze the goals out of "The Kid". He wants him to play in the box or as close to it as possible. To exploit his velocity and his power. His diagonal runs, his un-marking. He doesn't want to see him on the wings a whole lot. He would rather have him be the front man, a reference up front...except when he plays next to the giant Crouch, then he will need to take advantage of his knock-downs and passes inside the area or arriving from outside.

Being the most expensive player in the history of Liverpool will always be a tag on Fernando. The Anfield club has invested 26,5 million Euros on him to be paid in three years. Far from the 36 that Atletico assures to have cashed in. At most you could say that the operation was worth 30, because Luis Garcia's valuation was of 3,5.

Fernando is seen in the hall of the Hotel near his Spanish team-mates, although one of the advice Benitez has given him is to form relationships with all the players. As a matter of fact, in the course of the season he will share a room with most of them because the manager rotates them when they travel. He spent Tuesday night with Finnan.

"He's a good Irish boy, his English is perfect for me to practice with him. It's easier to understand than the Liverpool accent".

Impressed with Gerrard

In Melwood he gets dressed next to Gerrard, the great captain, and Voronin.

"Everything is organized. Everything goes by the numbers and since I'm number 9 i get dressed next to 8 (Gerrard) and 10 (Voronin). Every match is the same way. The clothes are set there for you. In the team bus, the veterans get in first and the new boys just take the remaining empty spaces".

But who has him really impressed is Gerrard.

"He's the best player i've ever trained with in my whole life", confesses Fernando.

The captain has adopted him since the first day and never loses sight of him. Like Reina or Xabi Alonso, who introduce him to the atmosphere and keep him up to date with the Club's costumes customs, something indispensible when you talk about Liverpool, a traditional club.

Alex aka "Another Spanish fan" translated this article


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