"You can only ever be a legend in someone’s mind. So long as you never become a legend in your own, there’s no problem. People want to pigeon-hole you, Fernando: they want to label you, rank you, judge you and compare you to others. But all that really matters is that you are yourself."
Those were the words uttered to Fernando Torres just a few days after he had become Liverpool’s record signing. His new mentor? The King of the Kop; Kenny Dalglish.
The very fact that Torres, a new arrival from Spain was privileged to spend time with arguably the club’s greatest player of all time was not lost on the youngster.
And the advice, the inspiration, the invaluable experience gained from those moments with Dalglish will never be forgotten by the striker bidding to carve his place in British footballing history.
He said: “Dalglish told me that we’re the ones who make people’s dreams come true. The fans can’t play, so they live their dreams through us.
“There’s nothing better than listening to the man who fans consider to be the greatest Liverpool player of all time: Kenny Dalglish. Kenny and I are not the same: he is the greatest player of all, I was just a new arrival but he immediately put me at ease."
Dalglish has taken a special interest in Torres. The symmetry between the two is there for all to see and while Torres is right, after two seasons it is ridiculous to mention him in the same breath as King Kenny, the start he has made at Anfield suggests it will only be a matter of time.
There is more to Torres than his performances on the pitch. Dalglish has been impressed with the way he has immersed himself in the history and tradition, the values that are so important to Liverpool Football Club and its fans.
Dalglish and Torres met privately and spent time together inside a deserted Anfield. Their attention turned towards the Kop and, one of Dalglish biggest regrets.
Torres added: “Kenny revealed something that surprises me: ‘I always wanted to go on the Kop, but I never could,’ he said. ‘The only time I have ever been on the Kop is when the stadium has been empty. It’s funny, my son has been there but I haven’t. A friend of mine took him and looked after him, he spent the game with him on the Kop. He lived a dream that I couldn’t.’
“Like Kenny, I’ve only been on the Kop when it was empty. I would love to think that when I retire it will be impossible for me to watch a game from the Kop too. That would mean I had achieved something great.
“Dalglish told me that the key to Liverpool’s success was the harmony within the team. ‘No team has ever been successful without a good atmosphere in the dressing room’ he said. ‘They don’t have to go out for drinks together or be best friends but having a good group is very important. We had a great dressing room, we were really united. Even now there are six or seven of us that are still close.'
“During that meeting we talked about football. I talked about the fact that there are games when things don’t go for you but that I will never hide. I always want the ball, even if I’m having a bad day.
Liverpool’s legendary number 7 said he was the same. ‘Of course you want the ball. You have to keep going. As a striker, you miss more chances than you score. The goals aren’t what matter most; what matters most are the chances you miss. The more you miss, the closer you are to the next one you’re going to score. You have to think like that: if you don’t have the courage to develop that kind of attitude you won’t make it at this level.'
“I learned so much from my time with Kenny. I really like him. He’s a normal person who’s very accessible. He says he doesn’t feel like a legend but that’s exactly what he is. The fact that he has stayed so normal really struck me.
“I can’t be compared to him but I feel proud to have been able to speak to him for so long. It was a real honour for him to have given up his time to talk to me. Meeting Kenny has made me even more hungry for success, even more determined to work hard and maybe, just maybe, see if one day I can compare myself with him.
“I’ll never forget the last piece of advice he gave me, as we were leaving the restaurant. Just as he went out of the door, the greatest player in the history of Liverpool turned to me and said: ‘Fernando, Liverpool is a special club with special fans. They love those players who love wearing their shirt. But they’re not stupid: they know when players mean it and when they don’t; they know when it’s just for show – when a player kisses the badge and all that. They love to identify themselves with the players out on the pitch and I think they’re going to identify with you very, very easily.’
"What an honour.”source