So Fernando Torres is to join Liverpool from Athletico Madrid for 26m. Is he going to be the catalyst that finally ignites Liverpool’s title challenge? Or will he join Stan Collymore, Emile Heskey, Craig Bellamy and Djibril Cisse, and fail to live up to the publicity and hype?
If he is to make a difference, the first thing I would do if I was working with him, would be to steep him in history. I would create a specific induction process for him. An induction into the history of great Liverpool forwards…Liddell, Thompson, Hunt, St. John, Keegan, Toshack, Dalgleish, Rush. Give him tapes and books to immerse himself in. Learn their stories, their personal histories, the games they changed. Meet them personally.
This way a move to Liverpool would be more than just a lucrative career move. It would enable him to make a connection. An emotional connection.
It’s something that Ruud Van Nistlerooy did whilst waiting for his move from PSV to Manchester United. By the time he joined United he knew his history beyond Best. Law and Charlton. He knew the lineage of United strikers. He had made an emotional connection.
Immersing themselves in the history and storyline of their sport is something sporting greats do. Mike Tyson for example, was a keen student of world heavyweight champions. Tiger Woods knew his history of golf, its great courses, holes and legends.
The Sports Psychology Summary…
Creating an emotional connection does not improve you technically. But it creates a sense of meaning and value that makes each training session, each team meeting, each game, significant.
It means it’s not just about you. It’s you, the football club and it’s history. It could be the difference between Torres carving his name in Anfield folk lore or going the way of those who failed to live up to the hype, because they never understood the history and their place in it.