Liverpool’s Torres: I didn’t believe it when Benitez wanted to sign me
The Spaniard recalls the night he had three missed calls on his phone because he did not recognise the number and when the caller finally got through, he was gobsmacked.
“I don’t pick up the phone if I don’t recognise the number,” Torres told mirrorfootball.co.uk.
“Whoever it was had been very insistent – and that evening, a Sunday night, I rang back. There was no answer but a couple of seconds later, whoever it was returned the call.
“’Hello Fernando’ said a Spanish voice at the other end, ‘do you know who this is?’ ‘No’ I replied. ‘You mean, you’d ring a random English number when you don’t even know who it is?’ the voice said. ‘Not normally, no,’ I said, ‘but I’ve had three calls from this number and I want to know who it is.’ ‘It’s Rafa Benitez.’
“There wasn’t much conversation – not from me, at least. My responses were to the point, short and cold. Too cold. Off hand. I’m amazed he didn’t tell me to get lost.
“My mind was racing, trying to place the voice, to decide if it really was Benitez. But how should I know when I had never spoken to him before? He didn’t stop talking. He explained what his plans were and he told me that he had decided that I was the player he wanted to be Liverpool’s centre-forward. He needed to know if I was committed enough to the idea for him to fight for my signature and start negotiating with Atletico Madrid.
“I didn’t know what to think; my mind wasn’t clear, it was spinning. I was thinking that maybe it was a mate of mine fooling around or some impersonator trying to catch me out.
“I thought I might be falling victim to another bad taste joke, like Jose Antonio Reyes when someone from a radio station rang him pretending to be the Real Madrid’s vice president Emilio Butragueno while he was still at Arsenal and he got himself in all sorts of trouble by admitting to ‘Butragueno’ that he would love to join Madrid.
“Almost all I managed to say was ‘Speak to Miguel Angel Gill, Atletico’s owner, and when the leagues over I’ll think about my future.”