We got that Spanish Connection..Liverpool FC

sam naikContributor IOctober 9, 2008

When Rafael Benitez joined Liverpool FC in 2004, every fan was curious to find out what kind of taste Rafa had in the transfer Market. Liverpool FC fans soon found out that as a Spanish himself he really admired the talent of his fellow spanish in the La Liga.  Over the past four years that Rafa has been in charge, he has made some very good signings and one or two not too great buys. However i have decided to focus on Rafa's purchase of spanish players, which i have to say have all been great signings no doubt. Liverpoolhave currently five spainsh players in the 1st team, namely; Fernando Torres, Alvaro Arbeloa, Albert Riera, Xabi Alonso, and Jose Reina. I would like to look at each players profile in this article to give the readers a special insight into our spanish boys.


Firstly i look at a player who has had an amazing first season at Liverpool FC , being the top goalscorer by a foreign player in the English Premiership in their First season.. the one and only

FERNANDO TORRES: (Profiles courtesy of Liverpool FC website)

Position: Striker

Date of Birth: 20/03/1984

Height: 6'1

Weight: 12st 4

1st team games: 57

1st team goals: 38

International caps: 55

International goals: 17

Former clubs: Atletico Madrid

Birth Place: Madrid, Spain


"We bought the lad from sunny Spain, he gets the ball and scores again."

The Kop has a new idol by the name of Fernando Torres - and no one makes the famous stand bounce like Liverpool's number nine.

Signed for a club record fee of approximately £20 million in July 2007, El Nino was handed the shirt vacated by Anfield legend Robbie Fowler.

Undaunted, he soon became the first Red since Fowler in 1996-97 to break the 30-goal barrier and is already on his way to achieving Godlike status.

Before joining the Premier League aged 23, Torres spent 12 years with hometown club Atletico Madrid.

Such was his prodigious talent he was named the best under-14 player in Europe following his performances in the 1998 Nike Cup.

Torres became the youngest player in Atletico history upon making his debut in May 2001. He went on to bag 21 goals in 2003-04 after being named Vicente Calderon's youngest ever skipper at the age of 19.

Having already top-scored in European Under-16 and Under-19 Championships, El Nino earned a first senior cap in September 2003 against Portugal. Seven months later he chalked up a first international goal against Italy. The forward would go on to net three times in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Clubs around Europe, including Manchester United and Arsenal, were understandably circling. However, in May 2007 it became clear Torres had his heart set on Merseyside when he revealed the phrase 'We'll Never Walk Alone' on the inside of his captain's armband during a match between Atletico and Real Sociedad.

Two months of speculation and paper talk ensued before the striker was finally unveiled at Melwood.

Torres made his competitive debut for Liverpool at Villa Parkon August 11, 2007. A week later he smashed in his first official goal (he'd already scored in a pre-season friendly versus Shanghai Shenhua) when a trademark burst of pace against Chelseasent Anfield wild.

Successive home hat-tricks to see off Middlesbrough and West Ham helped the hitman total 33 in 2007-08, including 24 in the league to overtake Ruud van Nistelrooy and become the most prolific foreigner ever in a debut season in England.

His crucial strike in the Stade Velodrome against Marseille won Goal of the Season on Liverpoolfc.tv, and it came as no surprise when fans also voted him their Player of the Year.

As if all this wasn't enough, Torres then topped off an incredible season by helping Spain to Euro 2008 glory in Austria and Switzerland. It was he who scored the winner in the final against Germany - one of two throughout the tournament. Remarkably, it was Spain's first major honour since 1964 - and our number nine was the hero.

 Next up is Liverpool FC's goalkeeper: Golden Gloves three seasons in a row


Jose Reina:

Jose Manuel Reina is one of the world's top stoppers with an uncanny knack of saving penalties.

He became the latest Spaniard to join the Rafalution in July 2005 and has already smashed a collection of Anfield records.

The bald-headed goalie ousted Jerzy Dudek as first choice despite the Pole's heroics in Istanbul just two months earlier.

Reina, who goes by the nickname Pepe, certainly had the pedigree having come through the ranks at Barcelona.

Having helped lead his country to European Under-16 Championships glory, he made his Nou Camp debut aged just 18.

The charismatic 'keeper played 33 games for the Catalan giants in 2000-01, including two against Liverpoolin the UEFA Cup semi-final.

He would later reveal how the reception he received from the Kop during the second leg was key in his decision to join the Reds.

Reina, who is noted for his superb distribution, played just 11 times during the 2001-02 season, prompting a loan move to Villarreal. The transfer was made permanent in May 2004.

The agile stopper helped Villarreal secure a Champions League spot in 2004-05 season, saving an incredible seven out of nine penalty kicks. It was to be his final deed for the club.

On arriving in Merseyside, the new boy was labelled "the best goalkeeper in Spain" by Rafa Benitez.

Immediately installed as number one at Anfield, his debut came in a Champions League qualifier on July 13, 2005 against TNS. A month later he won his first Spain cap in a 2-0 victory over Uruguay.

What a year it was turning out to be for the young 'keeper. And it was to get even better on December 15 when he and his teammates kept a club record 11th successive clean sheet against Deportivo Saprissa in the World Club Championships.

Reina's first season ended with an FA Cup final against West Ham, and though he made a number of errors in normal time, his habit of saving spot kicks once again made him a hero. Three out of four of West Ham's penalties were blocked and the Cup was heading to Anfield for the seventh time.

Spaincoach Luis Aragones took the Liverpool man to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, though Real Madrid's Iker Casillas and Valencia's Santiago Canizares prevented him playing any part.

Back on Merseyside, Reina would soon destroy another club record. His shut out against Blackburnin April 2007 was his 28th in his first 50 league games - three more than Kop legend Ray Clemence.

But there was no time to bask in his own glory, for just around the corner laid a Champions League semi-final against Chelsea. Benitez had his man between the sticks to thank when the Reds returned from the first leg at Stamford Bridge with just a one-goal deficit. The tie ultimately went to penalties, and it was no surprise when Liverpoolprevailed. It was later revealed that while Reina was thwarting Arjen Robben and Geremi, thieves were ransacking his home.

Three weeks later in Athenshe became only the third player to follow in his father's footsteps by appearing in a European Cup final. Unfortunately, like former Atletico Madrid stopper Miguel Reina Santos, he was on the losing side.

In June 2007, Reina signed a new deal five-year deal at Liverpool.

The season that followed ended without a trophy for the Reds, though our custodian had the personal honour of winning the Golden


Our new Boy:

 Albert Riera

Position: Midfielder

Date of Birth: 15/04/1982



1st team games: 6

1st team goals: 0

International caps: 5

International goals: 1

Former clubs: RCD Mallorca, Girondins Bordeaux, RCD Espanyol, Manchester City loan



Birth Place: Mancacor , Spain


Rafael Benitez secured the signing of Spanish left winger Albert Riera just before the transfer deadline in August 2008.

He is an exciting player who likes to take on defenders and is a good crosser of the ball. Riera was a popular figure at Espanyol and their supporters were sorry to see him leave.

Riera has experience of playing in Englandbefore when he had a loan spell with Manchesterduring the 2005-2006 season. During that period he made an appearance on the hallowed Anfield turf when he came on as a 78th minute substitute for City during Liverpool's 1-0 win on February 26, 2006.

During his spell in Manchester he played 15 games under Stuart Pearce and scored one goal against Newcastle United.

Riera, who hails from the island, comes from a town called Manacor, which incidentally, is the same place where tennis star Rafael Nadal was born.

Rieira can boast to have matched new teammate Steven Gerrard's achievement of scoring in a UEFA Cup final. However, unlike Stevie, it would prove to be a bitter-sweet occasion for the winger, as Espanyol eventually succumbed to a penalty shoot-out defeat in the 2007 final against Sevilla. The match had ended 2-2 after extra-time.

He scored his one and only international goal in Spain's 3-1 win away to Denmark in a European Championship qualifier on October 13, 2007. He has five caps for his country to-date. of Mallorca City


Fourth up is our midfield Maestro , the one and only


Xabi Alonso:

Position: Midfielder

Date of Birth: 25/11/1981

Height: 6'0

Weight: 12st 6

1st team games: 172

1st team goals: 14

International caps: 50

International goals: 3

Former clubs: Real Sociedad, SD Eibar

Birth Place: Tolosa, Spain


Cultured midfielder Xabi Alonso became one of the first players to join the Rafalution with a £10.5million move from his native Spain in August 2004.

The pass master is the son of former Barcelona star Miguel Angel 'Periko' Alonso and brother of Bolton midfielder Mikel.

Both sons came through the ranks at Real Sociedad, with Xabi making his senior breakthrough in a Copa del Rey match versus Logrones in December 1999.

From there, he was loaned to Spanish minnows SD Eibar, only to be called back when Kop legend John Toshack took the reins at Estadio Anoeta.

Alonso swiftly developed into a defensive midfielder with an eye for a pass few of his contemporaries could spot.

It came as no surprise when, in April 2003 and aged just 21, he earned his first Spain cap against Ecuador. A year later he travelled to the European Championships in Holland and Belgium, though featured in just one of his country's three group games.

His arrival at Anfield followed hot on the heels of the appointment of Rafa Benitez, who viewed his countryman as the man to set the tempo in a new-look Liverpool.

Alonso made his debut at Bolton's Reebok Stadium on August 29, 2004. Two months later he put in a dazzling performance against Fulham at Craven Cottage which had Kopites purring. With the Reds 2-0 down at half-time, Benitez threw on his new boy. The midfielder duly inspired a miraculous comeback, with the game ending 2-4.

His first season in English football was interrupted by a broken ankle following a tackle from Chelsea's Frank Lampard on New Year's Day. After three months out, he returned in the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Juventus. Alonso played 90 minutes as the Reds held the Italians to a goalless draw and thus progressed to the semis.

Next up were Chelsea, though a wrongly-awarded yellow card following a brush with Eidur Gudjohnsen meant the midfield anchorman missed the second leg.

Never mind, his teammates got the job done, and Alonso would play a pivotal role in Istanbul when the club won its fifth European Cup. It was he who scored Liverpool's third and equalising goal on 59 minutes, knocking in the rebound from his own missed penalty.

The Spaniard's second season in England was perhaps most notable for his performance against Luton Town in the third round of the FA Cup. With the Reds 3-1 down early in the second half, he scored two corkers, including a 65-yard punt from inside his own half.

Reports afterwards revealed the strike won one lucky fan £25,000. Spookily, the gent had placed £200 on the Reds number 14 scoring from his own half during the 2005-06 season.

Liverpool went on to win the FA Cup in Cardiff four months later, with Alonso playing 66 minutes of the final against West Ham.

From there, the popular Spaniard was selected for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where he scored his first international goal in a group match against Ukraine.

Alonso returned to Melwood following a second-round defeat to France to prepare for what would turn out to be another memorable season.

Not only did he play in his second European Cup final, he also scored another goal from inside his own half in a match against Newcastle United. Remarkably, it was his first Liverpool strike since the almost identical effort against Luton, and he remains the only modern player to score consecutive club goals from beyond the half-way line.

In June 2007 Alonso penned a new five-year deal, though sadly much of the following campaign was spent on the sidelines with a metatarsal injury.

Fortunately for Spain, he was back in time for Euro 2008 - and the tournament provided another career high as he and his countrymen defeated Germany in the final. Though not always in the starting XI, Alonso featured three times from the bench and wore the captain's armband in the final group game against Greece.


Finally our right back a truly remarkable defender tah tgives it his all


Alvaro Arbeloa:


Position: Defender

Date of Birth: 17/01/1983

Height: 6'0

Weight: 12st

1st team games: 66

1st team goals: 1

International caps: 3

International goals: 0

Former clubs: Real Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna

Birth Place: Salamanca, Spain


Versatile defender Alvaro Arbeloa was brought to Anfield in January 2007.

The Spaniard started out at Real Zaragoza before being lured by Real Madrid aged 16.

The Spanish capital was where he first worked with Rafa Benitez, who was then youth team coach at the Bernabeu.

Arbeloa made his full debut for Madrid against Real Betis in October 2004, but managed just one further appearance in the next two years.

By July 2006, the time had come to move on. His destination was northern Spain and Deportivo La Coruna.

Little did he know, however, that within six months he'd be on his way to the Premiership.

It took just 21 appearances at Depor to convince Benitez that Arbeloa was the man to challenge Steve Finnan for the right-back slot at Anfield.

The defender, who represented Spain at every youth level, made his Reds debut as a substitute against Newcastle on February 10.

This was followed by a first start in the Nou Camp, where Arbeloa was deployed as a left-back. It proved a tactical masterstroke on the part of Benitez as the new boy excelled, thwarting Barca starlet Lionel Messi and helping the Reds return home with an unlikely 2-1 lead. The trick was repeated two weeks later and Liverpool were through to the quarter-finals of the European Cup.

The full-back featured 14 times in his first six months on Merseyside, scoring once against Reading and coming on as a late sub in the Champions League final.

Arbeloa's club form finally brought international recognition in March 2008 when he came on with 15 minutes to go as Spain recorded a friendly victory over world champions Italy. Three months later he was part of the squad which triumphed in Euro 2008, though started just one game.



    Ronaldo Made a Bet with Teammates He'd Overtake Messi

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Ronaldo Made a Bet with Teammates He'd Overtake Messi

    MARCA in English
    via MARCA in English

    Ronaldo Went OFF as Madrid Smashed Girona

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Ronaldo Went OFF as Madrid Smashed Girona

    Rory Marsden
    via Bleacher Report

    Schedule for FA Cup Semis

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Schedule for FA Cup Semis

    Rory Marsden
    via Bleacher Report

    Did Morata Banish the Ghost of Torres at Leicester?

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Did Morata Banish the Ghost of Torres at Leicester?

    Matt Law,
    via The Telegraph