Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina took time out to chat about life on Merseyside. Here, courtesy of fernando9torres.com, is the full transcript.
Pepe Reina: Fernando, didn't we first meet with Spain Under 21s?
Fernando Torres: Yes, because I did not see you playing for the under 18s, weren't you good enough? (laughter)
PR: No, genius, when you were playing for the under 18s, I was already with the under 21s! (more laughter)
FT: I joined up with them a couple of years later…
PR: I played alongside Aranzubia, Yeste, Colsa, Orbaiz, Coira. I was there for four years, and I spent two of them with you. By then though you had already played with Atletico Madrid's first team and people were talking about you quite a lot. You stood out, and it was plain for all to see that you were going to make it big. Just look at you now!
FT: I remember that you were with the U21s, and that you were the captain. I was new, and I looked up to the more veteran players like yourself.
PR: I never really got to know you properly until you joined Liverpool. You were quite shy and you never really raised your voice. But after spending more time with you I soon saw that you are actually quite different from what I first perceived. You give everything to those close to you, and you are not at all shy.
FT: You always get to know somebody better playing alongside them in club football than with the national team. The players do not normally spend a lot of time together when they are with their country, and when you are there, you end up spending more time with the players from your own club. It is only when you are at a club side, you get to know those around you more, but then again, sometimes even that does not work.
PR: In today's game there are a lot of players from a lot of different places, and it is not easy to make friends.
FT: You have got a good point there. Say we had met a club in Spain, we might never have got to know each other well. We might have already had friends at the club, and therefore would have spent more time with them. Here though everything is different, you are in a new country and you look for support from those like you. After that first step, if you both get on, all goes swimmingly.
PR: We are two Spaniards abroad and are lucky to live just 50 metres apart. I was also fortunate to have Fernando Morientes nearby, and Abelardo helped me out a lot at Barcelona. He made life a lot easier for me, and that is exactly what I try to do for others when they come here. With you, it has been quite easy.
FT: Cheers, Pepe (laughter). When you arrive at a new place you have a lot to learn, especially if it is a different country, currency, climate, and where you have to find a place to live. You have to adapt to the change if you want to feel at home. You have been here to help me with everything, and the results are there for everyone to see out on the pitch. It is much appreciated when you only have to concentrate on playing football. Here they expect a lot from a player and you are obliged to go out and win every weekend, and you cannot waste time or energy looking for a house and trying to adapt to everything.
PR: You have also done your part to settle in. Some people do not let others help them out, and if both parties do not give and take, it is impossible that things will work out for the good. With you, it has been really easy.
FT: I have always believed that you must give and take. Upon arriving at a new place you must want to learn and also be ready to listen to advice. At Liverpool, we all want the same. We all help one another and give our best to reach our goals. It is a very professional working environment here.
Pepe on being a 'keeper
I have to say that I was not always a goalkeeper. Normally when you are a kid you enjoy kicking the ball about and scoring goals. But as time passes, the less skill you have, the further you played away from the forward line - and I ended up in the other goal! It is also in my genes though, as my dad was a goalkeeper. It was almost inevitable that I become a shot stopper.
PR: It has also helped that we share the same interests.
FT: Yes, we both like to spend time at home, watching matches, films and TV in general...
PR: We don't like the same genre of films though. If it is not based on real life or if the story line is not very believable, then you are not much of a fan.
FT: I only enjoy fact based films, or films that could happen in real life. But you don't like video games, preferring to play golf or tennis. You play the odd car game, but that is about it. Thank God Arteta comes by once in a while to play.
PR: So, you like fact based stories - what about the story that you started playing football in goal? (laughter)
FT: And? (more laughter)
PR: Nothing. Though I have to say that I was not always a goalkeeper. Normally when you are a kid you enjoy kicking the ball about and scoring goals. But as time passes, the less skill you have, the further you played away from the forward line - and I ended up in the other goal. It is also in my genes though, as my dad was a goalkeeper. It was almost inevitable that I become a shot stopper.
FT: I wanted to be a keeper, just like my brother, but I ended up playing up front. I would have been a great keeper though.
PR: Are you sure? We have to give you a try out. I want to know who would be the best keeper just in the case an outfield player has to go between the sticks. Xabi Alonso is great in goal. You never know, if your goalscoring is anything to go by! Fernando, not even the most optimistic of people would have said that you would score more than 30 goals last season. The first year abroad is hard, and in a league like the English Premiership, more than 30 strikes is more than could ever have been expected.
FT: I was really looking forward to coming here. It was a challenge and I knew that a lot would be expected from me. Luckily, everything has worked out well from day one, and my teammates have helped out, and I owe you all an awful lot.
PR: Here they want 100 per cent effort, and the fans are more important than the results. They want you to give your all as soon as you step out on to the pitch wearing the Liverpool shirt; and if you win, then even better. But even if the result does not go the team's way, come the 90th minute, the fans can be heard singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
FT: The supporters back the players, regardless of who is out on the pitch. They enjoy watching their key players play, because Liverpool has great players, but Liverpool will always be a team. The fans get behind the side even when things are not working out, and they are always there until the death. That is the major difference with football back in Spain. If a team is not doing well, then it is because the players do not deserve to be wearing the club's colours. At Liverpool, if a player is wearing their shirt, it is because he deserves it. The fans ask for effort and dedication, and their support is something special, something that stays with you.
PR: It is a different way of understanding the game. Both should be respected, but if I had to choose, it would be the way they do things here in England.
FT: Life is also different when you are not playing football. Whether you are shopping or having dinner, you have no worries. People respect you.
PR: Remember once when we were having dinner at a restaurant and this girl kept looking over? She never said a word, but when we left like an hour and a half later, she was waiting outside in the cold with a shirt for us to sign! There is a lot of respect here.
FT: It helps if you are able to enjoy your time away from football, because when it comes to playing, you are a lot less tense. Fans ask you for things, but always in a well-mannered way. They never interrupt you or make you feel ill at ease, and that is worth its weight in gold.
PR: Talking about going out, we have that trip to a bowling alley on standby...
FT: You're right. But we always end up just staying in. When we have people over, we normally go out and about, but we normally just stick around the house and have a barbeque.
PR: Yes, six degrees outside, and a barbeque in the back garden. Never seen anything like it before.
FT: I remember one day the sun was shining, so we decided to have a barbeque and it ended up snowing. We took photos of the grill covered in snow.
PR: The weather is a bit temperamental.
FT: But when things get bad, we get the board games out.
PR: Yes, boys against girls. We cheat a lot more than they do, and I think its more obvious that we do. (laughter)
FT: Yes (more laughter). At the moment it is 1-1. Things are quite close, and if needed, there has to be some cheating. We have had some great battles!
PR: The truth is that you are pretty well behaved! At home, and with the team.
Torres on the language barrier
FT: I try to stay to one side so I don't put my foot in it! But I have a funny story from when we were in Hong Kong. When you arrive, you realise that you basically have no clue when it comes to the language, but after the first week you think that you can get by. When we arrived at Hong Kong, the manager gave us a brief team talk in the restaurant of the hotel to tell us the day's schedule.
PR: You did not understand a thing. I asked you what he said, and you told me that the luggage had been lost and training had been cancelled! No clue.
FT: Yes, that it when I realised I had a long way to go. But I actually thought that the boss had said exactly that, but what he really said was that first we had training, followed by a rest; then lunch and down to pick-up our gear. Thank God that you were there, otherwise I would have overslept!
PR: You have settled in well though, even though you have a dodgy taste in films. (laughter) We could watch films and television series together, but you have no taste. Although everyone is entitled to choose what they want to watch.
PR: I have to say that you are a great bloke and a good friend, someone who is really open. You might come across at first as a bit stand-offish, but that could not be further away from the truth. You are friendly and a bit of a joker.
FT: Well, you are a real cheat, and the worst part is that it is really easy to spot (laughter). Unlike me, you show your emotions. You are the first player to get behind the players, and you are full of positive energy and you know how to transmit it. I remember when Adebayor equalised against us in the Champions League quarter-finals and you were quick to pick up Skrtel and encourage him to get on with the game. There are no a lot of people around like that, it is something you cannot train. When they scored, I felt like I had been shot.
PR: We might be a bit different when it comes to that aspect, but we share the same values and way of thinking, which is why we get on so well. I always try to feel positive, to be in a good mood, and to build a positive environment around me. My dad was the person who taught me to be this way. Sometimes in this sport, that is what you have to hang onto, the good times and the stories you share with others. Life here is really good, the only thing you miss is a little bit more sun.
FT: I don't actually miss the weather, though I do miss a little being around my friends and family. But they are nearly always over so the distance seems far less. At the end of the day, it is only two hours by plane.
PR: You're right. On footballing nights like the Champions League tie versus Arsenal at Anfield, you would have liked to have had more people over to celebrate.
PR: Just out of interest, does the Intertoto defeat against us at the Vicente Calderon Stadium still hurt!?
FT: We lost 2-0 in Villarreal, won 2-0 at home, but went out in the penalty shoot-out.
PR: I did my job well that day! We were losing 2-0 in the return leg in Madrid, you were playing a blinder and the referee blew for a penalty after you were brought down in the box. Whilst you were down, I pressured the referee to call on the team doctor to attend you. You had to leave the pitch and weren't allowed back on to take the spot-kick!
FT: See! What a cheat you are! (laughter)
PR: Our friend Jorge Larena stepped-up, but I saved his penalty. We then went on to win in the penalty shoot-out.
FT: I did not even get to take a penalty in the shoot-out. I was fifth in line, but the funny thing was, so were you!
PR: We were lucky that day!
FT: Definitely, because I have put quite a few past you. But I hope we will also be lucky together and win silverware for Liverpool.
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