Birthdate: 5 April 1976
Birthplace: Cilleros, Spain
Other clubs: Albacete (1993-95), Real Zaragoza (1995-97), Real Madrid (1997-2005), Monaco (loan 2003-04), Valencia (2006-09), Marseille (2009-10)
Bought from: Real Madrid
Signed for LFC: £6.3m, 13.01.2005
International debut: 25.03.1998 vs. Sweden
International caps: 47/27 (5/2 at LFC) - 28.03.2007
Liverpool debut: 15.01.2005
Last appearance: 13.05.2006
Debut goal: 01.02.2005
Last goal: 29.04.2006
Contract expiry: 05.07.2006
Win ratio: 63.93% W: 39 D: 8 L: 14
Games/goals ratio: 5.08
LFC league games/goals: 41 / 8
Total LFC games/goals: 61 / 12
Morientes started to make a name for himself at Albacete in 1993 where he scored five goals in 22 La Liga matches in two seasons. He became a Real Madrid player in 1997 after scoring 36 goals in two successful years at Real Zaragoza. Being at Madrid gave Morientes the opportunity to show his talents in Europe’s biggest club competition. He won the Champions League with Madrid in 1998, 2000 and 2002 and was also a finalist with Monaco in 2004, scoring nine goals in 12 games en route to the final against Porto, an achievement that got him named European Striker of the Year. Real certainly regretted loaning Morientes to Monaco as the French club eliminated Real in the quarter-finals with Morientes scoring in both legs against his employers! Morientes scored a total of 99 goals in 261 games for Real Madrid and won two La Liga titles. Ronaldo’s arrival in Madrid was the beginning of the end for Morientes, who had been relegated to fourth-choice striker in 2004/05.
Morientes' arrival to Liverpool in January 2005 was hailed as a masterstroke by Rafa Benítez. Steven Gerrard was excited at prospect of teaming up with the Spaniard. "You know you're not taking a risk. It's good from a symbolic point of view that we've signed someone who's so renowned as a world-class player. I just hope, after all the success he's had and trophies he's won, he's as hungry to do the same for us." Morientes was frustratingly cup-tied for the remainder of Liverpool's Champions League campaign because he had already played for Madrid in the same competition earlier in the season but in the end Liverpool conquered in Istanbul without his help. Morientes was thrown in at the deep end, starting matches soon after his arrival as Rafa was desperate that his compatriot would gain match fitness. The Spanish ace netted in his fourth game, a 2-1 away win against Charlton. Two minutes after John Arne Riise's equalizer the ball broke to Morientes who, in a blur of quality, moved the ball from right to left, opening up the chance to shoot. From the edge of the box his left-footed strike arrowed into the top corner. Morientes was also on the scoresheet in the following game against Fulham with a trademark header. However, slight knocks and European ineligibility restricted his progress and he only added one goal before the end of the season, obviously lacking sharpness in front of goal.
There was no doubt about Morientes' class and experience but sadly he never really became a member of the first team as opposed to just the first-team squad. The Champions League had been kind to Morientes throughout the years and he had his brightest moments in the red of Liverpool in Europe's premier competition. Two goals against CSKA Moskva on 10 August 2005 opened his account for the season and he scored a sensational goal against Anderlecht. However, Morientes was anything but prolific in the Premier League. His best ratio in La Liga was a goal every 1.74 games in the 1998/99 season (19 goals in 33 matches) and 1.83 (18 in 33) in 2001/02 for Real Madrid, but Morientes only scored five League goals for Liverpool in 28 matches, a ratio of a goal every 5.60 matches. Rafa tried to defend his fellow Spaniard: "If you sign a young player people accept he will need time. If you sign a star, people want him to produce immediately," he said. "Nobody can say Morientes is a bad player. He is really good in the air, good with both feet, makes good movement and is a good finisher. He is a fantastic player. Is he playing at his level? Maybe not." The Liverpool Echo's Chris Bascombe delivered a damning verdict on the misfiring striker, that despite its cruelness raised a smile: "Morientes is a bit like bird flu. He's been lethal in other countries and we keep getting told it's only a matter of time before he makes his mark here, but there's no sign of it yet." Morientes won some silverware before his unavoidable departure when he won the FA Cup with Liverpool after coming on as a substitute in the forty-eighth minute. He joined Valencia in July 2006 after a disappointing 16-month spell at Anfield.
Morientes was very prolific for the Spanish international side, scoring 27 goals in 47 games. He made his international debut on 25 March 1998 against Sweden. He made a dream start, scoring two goals in the first five minutes in a 4-0 victory. It wasn’t the first time he had scored on his debut, he also did for Albacete, Zaragoza, Real Madrid and Spain’s u-18 and u-20 teams. Morientes played two games for Spain in the 1998 World Cup, scoring twice. Spanish fans were shocked that Morientes was omitted from Spain’s team in Euro 2000 but he participated in the 2002 World Cup, easily Spain’s best striker netting two goals against Paraguay in the group stages and one against Ireland in the last sixteen. He was also in Spain’s squad in Euro 2004, scoring one goal against eventual winners Greece. Morientes took part in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers but was excluded from the final squad after a depressing season at Liverpool.
Moving back to Spain in July 2006 inspired Morientes to score in every other game in his debut season at Mestalla but he only scored seven goals in 42 La Liga matches in his other two campaigns at Valencia. In the last week of July 2009, at the age of 33 and having taken his career total of club goals past the two hundred mark, Morientes left Valencia on a free transfer and signed a two-year deal with Marseille. Morientes won the French league under Didier Deschamps' guidance, but only contributed one goal in 12 league appearances and left the French outfit only 12 months into his contract. On deadline day, 31 August 2010, Morientes announced his retirement from the game after failing to attract a deal that excited him. He had turned down offers from Sporting Lisbon, and from teams in Mexico, Qatar and Dubai. The Premiership clearly didn't suit Morientes and he was glad to see the back of England. "I wanted to return to what I knew and play the kind of football in which I felt more comfortable. I didn't like the physical nature of the game in England or the referees who let more things go, and who blow for fewer fouls than they do here [in Spain]. A striker isn't protected from rival defences there, and they gave me a really hard time."