Picking 11 players from the Chelsea and Liverpool teams he played in was a tough ask for Fernando Torres – read on to find out who makes the cut in his combined XI…
The legendary Spanish striker played for both Chelsea and Liverpool at a time when the Blues and Reds had one of the fiercest rivalries in English football.
His best years, personally, came during his time on Merseyside, although his move to west London in 2011 allowed him to win major honours at club level, including the biggest of them all: the Champions League.
So, when Torres visited Stamford Bridge last year shortly after announcing his retirement from professional football, our matchday programme team sat down with him and asked him to pick a combined XI made up of former team-mates from his time with both clubs.
This is what he came up with…
‘Right at the start, the goalkeeper is a difficult one,’ he said. ‘With Reina I shared many times in Liverpool and also in the national team. Petr Cech is obviously one of the best goalkeepers I ever played with, so it would be a very difficult decision as a coach to make. I’ll have to come back to it…
‘I’ll go for a back four with Brani Ivanovic on the right. He’s a great guy, a great player and the kind of player that I would always want in my team.
‘I would have Sami Hyypia and John Terry in the middle of the defence – two strong centre-backs who are good with the ball and without the ball. I think they would be a really good partnership as well.’
‘Then, at left-back, Ashley Cole. He always performed at a great level, in all aspects, offensive and defensive, and you can see what an amazing career he had. He was a great all-round player. I think that’s a really good line of four at the back.
‘The midfield might be the most difficult part, as I’ve been lucky to play with some fantastic midfielders. Obviously I have to go for Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, both of them have to be in there.
‘They are two of the best midfielders in English and Premier League history. They are legends to Liverpool and Chelsea, and also in the national team in England. I was very lucky to play with both of them and they have to be in the team.
‘I will get Yossi Benayoun in there, who played for both Liverpool and Chelsea. He’s a great friend and a great player. It was easy to play with him for me, he was always trying to give chances to the striker and looking for those small gaps that no-one can see but him.
‘I played with so many great midfielders it’s very hard to pick. I played with many, many great players and I’m worried I’m going to have to leave some of them out, but I will have Xabi Alonso as the other midfielder, playing behind Gerrard and Lampard.
‘I will pick Dirk Kuyt on the right. He was always scoring important goals and put in a lot of hard work, always. When the important moments arrived he was always there scoring that goal or winning that header and just helping the team. It was amazing seeing the way he used to work and I don’t think people really appreciated how good he was, but I could see it every day in training.
‘Obviously, Didier Drogba has to be up front. He’s a Chelsea legend and after winning the Champions League with his equaliser at the end of the game and him scoring the last penalty, he has to be in there.
‘If I go back to the goalkeeper, I will pick Pepe just to balance the team between Liverpool and Chelsea, as then there is five from each plus Yossi who played for both, but there really isn’t much to choose between him and Petr, they are both great.
‘I feel bad because I’ve had to leave out so many people who deserve to be in here, there would be fantastic players like Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Petr Cech and a lot of others on the bench. It is not easy because I could make two or three teams of people I played with at Chelsea and Liverpool, and all of them would be good enough to win the Premier League in any year.
‘What I would say about that is, it shows I was really lucky to play with so many great players during my time in England, at both clubs.’