The clocks have changed, the leaves are falling, and daylight starts to give up around 10am each morning. The fireworks have shot into the sky so some people are starting to turn their minds to Christmas shopping and I am always slightly jealous about the people who have already brought the presents for this year. They can kick back in their armchairs with a glass of something special and the smug knowledge that they have been sufficiently organised this year. They do not need to venture into the drizzly rain where the angry shoppers are crashing around the aisles with little idea about what to wrap up for the sake of the 25th December.
Your local bookshop will be crammed full with present ideas. Tables will be groaning under the weight of hardback books from a whole range of authors. Scarily happy shop operatives will point you to the work of lunchtime television chat show presenters, celebrity chiefs, faded pop icons and film stars. It is not too hard to guess which books could be in the bargain bucket by next March, or decaying in landfill somewhere in the UK by the end of May.
For the Liverpool fan that wants to escape away from the Christmas afternoon fondue of Back to the Future II, post turkey indigestion and family rows over the monopoly board, the perfect diversion could be these three books about Fernando Torres. These books could be a chance to find out a little bit more about Liverpool’s star striker, whilst the rest of the family are fighting amongst themselves about who owns who down the Old Kent Road.
Ever since he came to Anfield, I have always wanted to find out more about Fernando Torres. It is difficult to remember a Liverpool player capturing everyone’s imagination in such a short space of time, who plays a style of football that is pleasing on the eye and how the game should be played. His goals against Hull and Manchester United during this early part of this season should be contenders for the Goals of the Season 2009-2010, but I like his attitude too. Torres seems to be devoid of the swaggering arrogance that is miserably common in too many Premiership stars.
Each book will appeal to a specific type of football fan who worships Liverpool Football Club in a particular way. Caioli goes in to more detail about Torres’ upbringing in Spain, helping us to understand what happened to this player before the journey to Anfield. There are various stories about the junior teams featuring the young Torres, and the slow but emotional process to become the figurehead that shouldered the dreams of Atletico Madrid supporters.
A whole chapter is dedicated to his childhood in Fuenlabrada near to Madrid, and it was an enjoyable read. There was a very ‘ordinariness’ about it. In a world where every single star has been required to go on an emotional ‘journey’ that could rival the script of a Hollywood blockbuster, Torres seems to have moved through every stage of the football stage of life with a mixture of hard work and stanch family support.
Caioli has gained interviews with a range of key figures that have played an influential role in Torres’ development to be a top class footballer. The Atletico junior team coach, Abraham Garcia, talks about a young footballer that was “quite shy,” “would mind his own business” but was “warm and generous” in heart. The Barcelona star, Andres Iniesta, shares tales from his time with Torres in the Spanish national team from under sixteen level. Long term friends of Torres, Julian Hernandez and Angel Sanchez, talk about Liverpool’s number nine with a refreshing honesty and respect that tells us that Torres is not a football automaton programmed to only play and talk about football.
It is important to understand the intense pressure that was placed on Torres’ shoulders when he became Atletico captain in 2003 at the age of eighteen. The books from Caioli and Cruise talk about Atletico Madrid’s frequently unsuccessful struggles to cement their status as a top La Liga team, achieve regular top-flight European football and face their Real rivals as respectable equals rather than slightly faded upstarts.
Ian Cruise highlights the miserable comments from Torres that Atletico had nothing to play for, when the fans were cheering a 0-6 defeat to Barcelona meaning that the Catalans winning La Liga instead of Real Madrid. It is obvious that the career of Fernando Torres is not based on effortless success.
Torres has worked for the accolades that have landed at his feet. Most of Caioli’s interviewees remain how a young striker, who had never played outside Spain, managed to adapt to a very different style of football, enjoy a stunning debut season on Merseyside and achieve ultimate success for his country during Euro 2008.
Cruise’s book is mostly focused on Torres’ seasons at Liverpool as well as Spain’s Euro 2008 campaign. This book of comment and insight from a range of commentators, Liverpool legends, Benitez and current Liverpool players. These seasons contain memorable matches and will be ideal for a fan that wants to revel in many of the key matches since Torres’ debut against Aston Villa in August 2007.
Key fixtures are given tremendous build up in the book including the two Manchester United defeats from the sunny Saturday lunchtime of last March, and the various Champions League victories. Cruise’s book ends when Torres returns from injury in November 2008, and Liverpool at the top of Premier League after a 2-0 win against Bolton at the Reebok Stadium.
The final book is accredited to Torres with the help of Antonio Sanz who knew Torres from his days as the press officer of Atletico Madrid. It is a book that has been heavily displayed in the bookshop of my local West Midlands area, but it is a book of a kind that I have never seen before.
This particular book is not a wall to wall picture book of Torres in various moody poses in Anfield and across Merseyside. There is a very large amount of personal commentary about Torres getting to grips with life in England. We learn a lot of detail about the Liverpool number’s nine struggles to realise that he had to drive on the left hand side of the road around Liverpool, his diligence to learn more than pigeon English and what he likes to eat.
There is a particular fan that thrives on this particular information, but there is some commentary about his triumph at Euro 2008, as well as his early years at Atletico Madrid. There are some fantastic action photos that take you back to the Euro 08 final in Austria, including a fabulous shot of the victorious Spanish team complete with their treasured cup.
This book is trying to cater for a variety of audiences and will be a popular present at Christmas. This is a general interest book, which will entertain you on those long away trips as you follow Liverpool across the UK or further afield. I sense that this book could be easily updated, depending on any future achievements of Torres, such as a successful 2010 World Cup campaign
It is difficult to believe that Torres is only twenty-five. His football career is still in its early stages and sequels will celebrate future achievements. However, these books have helped the reader to appreciate the early years of a player who has developed unquestionable football ability and a refreshingly humble personality.
Luca Caioli (2009) Torres: An Intimate Portrait of the Kid who became King
Ian Cruise (2009) Fernando Torres: Liverpool’s Number 9
Fernando Torres with Antonio Sanz (2009) Torres El Nino: My Story
For more LFC gift ideas this Christmas visit the This Is Anfield shop.