Thursday, July 5, 2007

Liverpool’s new Spanish superstar no Spice Boy

LIVERPOOL FC’s latest Spanish import may have olive skin, blond highlights and a horde of adoring female fans but he is not likely to herald a new “Spice Boys” era for the club.
A quiet man who shuns the limelight, striker Fernando Torres is said to favour a night in over partying at city nightspots.
The 23-year-old Madrid-born striker has been known to criticise footballers who consider themselves “part-time athletes and full-time stars”.
Nicknamed “El Niño” (the kid) because of his fresh-faced looks, Torres yesterday completed a £20m transfer deal from Atlético Madrid to Liverpool.
He will wear the number nine shirt, also worn by Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler, himself once tagged with the Spice Boy image.
He was born in Madrid’s Fuenlabrada neighbourhood, traditional Real Madrid territory, but grew up to wear the red and white stripes of Atlético Madrid, known as the “cloth cap team” with a working class fan-base.
Since 1999, Torres has been dating childhood sweetheart Olalla, who he met at the age of eight when his parents moved to the same street as her family in Galicia. The pair are rumoured to be marrying this September.
Madrid-based journalist Tim Brown said he hoped Torres’s team mates would help him settle in . He said: “He is a quiet lad. His goal celebrations are even conservative. He has a steady girlfriend so that could disappoint the ladies in Liverpool. He doesn’t speak English and is very used to life in Madrid.
“Hopefully, he’ll spend a lot of time with his Spanish co-players. That should help him settle in..”
But Madrid-based football writer Javier Conzuelas thinks Torres’s clean-living nature may change once he gets a taste of life in Merseyside.
She said: “El Niño is famous for being the football geek.
“He likes his nights in with his childhood sweetheart Olalla.
“But there is a lot of concern about whether he will change once he is away from the watchful eyes of his family. Liverpool may be much smaller than Madrid, but there are still a lot of distractions for a young lad working away from home for the first time.”
Sky TV’s La Liga expert Guillem Balague believes Liverpool are on to a winner.
“The fans of Liverpool can relate to him and he can be a big success,” he said.
Earlier this year, friends gave Torres an unusual birthday present, a captain’s armband bearing the logo: “We’ll never walk alone”.
It was meant simply as a symbol of their friendship, but led to inevitable speculation.
He has been so dedicated to playing for the Spanish side that around 1,500 Atlético supporters, shocked at his departure, yesterday gathered at the club’s ground yelling about their feelings of disquiet.
As well as “El Niño”, Torres has amassed other nicknames during his six-year stint with Atlético. These include “El Niño de Oro” (goldenboy), “el Dios” (God) and “La Flecha” (the arrow).
Lord of the Rings fan Torres also has a collection of tattoos. One says “Fernando” in Tengwar, the “elvish” language created by JRR Tolkien.
The number nine, his shirt number for Atlético Madrid and the Spanish team, is tattooed on the inside of his right wrist.
And the Roman numerals VII VII MMI (07/07/2001), thought to be the day of his first date with Olalla, are tattooed on his right shin.

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