The Boy From Madrid

The Boy From Madrid
April 14, 2016 Chris Rowland

Liverpool in the Premier League Era: Part 14

By TTT Subscriber Anthony Stanley.

On 29th March 2015, during a charity game between a Steven Gerrard XI and a Jamie Carragher XI, there seemed to be an excising of something malignant and treacherous which Liverpool fans had carried in their hearts for four years.

It was a match were former heroes said goodbye, and as the likes of Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina and Luis Suarez applauded a bouncing, if poignantly existential, Anfield, for one footballer the emotion threatened to overwhelm him. Fernando Torres, now a man of 31 – not the spritely and shining demigod of eight years previous – was visibly overcome as the Kop sang his name. It was a crystallising catharsis as El Nino had to compose himself as his name drifted from the stands in a chorus of stoic gratitude. Torres applauded and there was a look of something not far removed from shock in his eyes. Shock and thankfulness.

Because it had hurt. January 2011 had hurt more than football really should. It hurt because we cared so much, worshipped this mercurial and prolific striker who seemed to get us, our club, our city. The irony of course being that it was this sense of loss, of betrayal, that ensured that, for many Liverpool fans, Torres would be the last of the heroes; never again would we leave ourselves open to the deathly keen blade of loss that we felt when Chelsea signed Fernando Torres for £50 million. He wanted the move, he was disillusioned with the mess our club had become. So he jumped ship to the hated Londoners and it was horribly emblematic of just how much the goal posts of modern football had shifted. We would indulge in a strange voyeurism as we watched Chelsea’s new striker struggle in a side based around patient possession and some would glory in it while some would feel a strange ache – like meeting a hot ex in a club who has obviously lost much of what gave them their power over you. Vivacity traded for vacuity.

But the glorious memories would always remain. They could be hidden away as we nursed our outrage at being jilted and bruised but maybe, during a friendly that was an unofficial goodbye to Steven Gerrard (so many goodbyes), we could all take part in a group therapy session and remember that we were privileged to witness one of the greatest strikers on the planet plying his trade at Anfield.

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