Euro 2008 triumph would make Fernando Torres even better - Roger Hunt
FERNANDO TORRES stands on the brink of ending a 44-year trophy drought for Spain this weekend.
But Liverpool will be the beneficiaries if the Reds striker can fire his country to European Championship glory in Vienna tomorrow night.
That's the view of Roger Hunt, one of the greatest Liverpool strikers of all time, and the last Reds star to figure in a major international final.
Sir Roger, as he was christened by the Kop years before the Queen formally recognised his status in 2000, scored 286 goals during a glorious 11-year career at Anfield.
But he believes that after tasting World Cup glory at Wembley in 1966 he came back to Anfield a better player.
He reckons Torres could receive a similar boost if Spain can repeat England's achievement of '66 and shoot down Germany.
"I'm not saying that Torres lacks confidence, but if Spain do win on Sunday it will give him a fantastic boost," he declared.
"I certainly felt a more confident player when we won the World Cup.
"There are certain moments in your career when your confidence gets a real boost; winning your first international cap is one because it gives you the belief that you're good enough to play at that level. Then winning an international tournament is another. To win the World Cup was something I never really dreamed of.
"With the system England played them it was more difficult to play for them than it was for Liverpool, but I did come back feeling more confident about myself." Hunt scored 18 goals the season after his World Cup celebration, part of a remarkable sequence when he was Liverpool's top goalscorer eight years in a row.
Two-and-a-half years later he broke Gordon Hodgson's league scoring record for Liverpool - a status he still holds despite Ian Rush later overtaking his figure in all competitions.
Former team-mate and Anfield legend Tommy Smith recently compared Torres to his old Anfield pal.
"Torres is the nearest thing I have ever seen to Roger Hunt," he said. "When Roger was around, if there was a chance inside the 18 yard box then the ball was in the back of the net - there was no question about that.
"He got into positions that no-one else would ever dream of getting into and that's the same with Torres.
"You don't think he has any chance of doing anything because he has two men around him, but then he drops his shoulder, does a nutmeg and the ball is in the net. That's exactly what Roger used to do and he was a World Cup winner."
Hunt himself conceded that Torres "is probably a lot quicker than I was, but when I played I used to play with two wingers.
"I was more of an inside forward before I became an out and out striker, like Torres is now.
"What I've noticed about Torres is that he is also very good at bringing other players into the game and he is a very intelligent player.
"He can certainly beat men very easily, and while he might not have shown that quite as much in these championships he has been very tightly marked and has to play a different role for his country.
"I've certainly been surprised to see him substituted so often, although the Spanish boss took him off against Russia and they went and scored straight away!"
Russia were the opposition when Hunt won the 32nd of his 34 England caps in a European Championship third-place play-off match in Rome's Stadio Olimpico on 1968.
England won that match, although most interest was focused on the final, staged in the same stadium several hours later, and which ended in a draw before Italy won a replay against Yugoslavia two days later.
Now Spain hope to do the same at the first time of asking - with Liverpool hoping they can benefit from the outcome.