Torres loving life at Liverpool

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The Independent Football

Fernando Torres admits he has fallen in love with Liverpool and English football.

The Spain striker took the Barclays Premier League by storm last season following his big-money move from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2007, scoring 24 goals in his debut campaign for the Reds.

Although his second season at Anfield has been affected by some nagging injuries, Torres insists he is completely at home in England.

"It isn't easy to adapt but once you have, you would have trouble wanting to play anywhere else," said the 24-year-old, who scored Spain's winner in last summer's Euro 2008 final against Germany.

"The Premier League is way ahead of the Spanish league.

"You go to play away at a team in the relegation zone and you find yourself playing on a perfect pitch, with the stands full to bursting and opponents who are there to play football.

"And even if they lose, the crowd are going to cheer them on until the death. You only see this in British football."

Torres added: "The club is a symbol of a city which fought to stay alive.

"Everyone is proud of the team. Players want to come here because they know that Liverpool is a truly great club.

"Anfield is the most English of all the grounds - people live and breath football there.

"With just 45,000 fans there, that roar they give makes you think you have wings on your feet."

Torres completed his move to Liverpool in July last year, a month-and-a-half after they had been defeated by AC Milan in the final of the Champions League.

The striker revealed he was approached by Liverpool coach and fellow Spaniard Rafael Benitez just after that match, but he had trouble believing it was not a hoax call.

"Rafa Benitez phoned me on my mobile," Torres recalled.

"At the start, I was asking myself if this was some person imitating him. So I called (Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe) Reina to make sure it really was Rafa's number.

"Then after that, I didn't have to think for long. I knew that was the call I had been waiting for."

Torres also revealed he made a secret two-day visit to Liverpool prior to signing, during which time he took his medical, and was immediately charmed by the club, its history and the supporters.

"I spent two days in an apartment that I only left to take some tests," he said.

"There were just books, DVDS, everything you could think of about the club. Some people from the club came to speak to me and answer my questions; it was incredible.

"I will never forget a man crossing the street I met a short time after I got there - he said to me that he worked all week just to think of the pleasure that would be waiting for him at the stadium."

Torres has struck up a great on-field relationship with Steven Gerrard, Liverpool's captain and talismanic midfielder.

The pair have combined to score a raft of goals over the past 16 months and Torres is full of admiration for the England star.

"I wanted to play for a club like Liverpool, where I could learn from players like Steven Gerrard, who I have always respected as a player and a leader," he said.

"A captain in England must lead by example. Steve Gerrard is someone everyone wants to be like - always the first at training, it is he who grafts the hardest in each exercise, who sacrifices himself during each match.

"You follow him blindly. Moreover, he is a star who decided to stay at Liverpool despite all the offers.

"It is a pleasure to receive the throughballs you get from Steven. He puts the ball where he wants, like Xavi (Hernandez) for the national team."

Torres has set his sights on helping Liverpool win their first title since 1990.

"It is fair to say the Premier League is in front of everything else for us," he added in France Football.

"It is 18 years since Liverpool were last champions of England and the wait is enormous."

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