It wasn’t pace, strength or even deadliness in front of goal that made Fernando Torres a world-class striker, according to Steven Gerrard.
Instead, the former Liverpool captain believes his Spanish teammate was one of the best in the business because of his refusal to shirk a physical challenge.
Torres arrived at Anfield 10 years ago today with a reputation as one of Europe’s most promising centre-forwards thanks to his feats with boyhood club Atletico Madrid.
But he reached new heights on Merseyside, scoring 81 goals in just 142 outings for the Reds after adapting to the Premier League with incredible ease.
And Gerrard, who enjoyed a near-telepathic partnership with Torres on the pitch, insists that is down to the No.9’s refusal to wither in the face of confrontational defensive tactics.
He told Premier League Heroes: “When you’re a centre-forward, if you get rough treatment, you either hide and go into your shell or you come alive and thrive and get better.
“You think of players like Luis Suarez and Torres, they thrive off contact and pressure.
“When the likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic try to bully them and intimidate them and rough them up, they love it.
“They get bigger, they put their shoulders back, they grow and take the challenge on – that’s what a world-class centre-forward does.”
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Gerrard has this week taken up his new role as head coach of Liverpool’s U18s side, overseeing the start of pre-season training on Monday.
And he plans to use Torres as his guide when advising any promising striker on the level they need to reach.
He added: “At the Academy now, when you working with centre-forwards, that’s the side of the game you’re trying to get them to understand.
“It’s not just about latching onto passes and finishing into the corners of the net.
“Yes, of course, we want them to do that, but you’ve got to be able to cope with world-class centre-halves trying to bully and intimidate you, and Fernando Torres used to love that treatment.”