He played for a number of clubs during his career, including Real Madrid, Monaco, Liverpool and Valencia. In La Liga, he scored 124 goals in 337 games over the course of 15 seasons. He earned 11 major honours with the first club, including three Champions League trophies.
Morientes played 47 times for the Spain national team, representing the country in two World Cups (totalling five goals) and one European Championship.
Born in Cáceres, Extremadura, Morientes moved to Sonseca, Province of Toledo, at the age of four. He began his professional career at Albacete Balompié, making his La Liga debut on 7 November 1993 as a 75th-minute substitute for Alejandro in a 2–3 loss against CD Tenerife at the Estadio Carlos Belmonte, and he made one more appearance that season, also from the bench.
On 23 October 1994, soon after coming on as a first-half replacement for Alberto Monteagudo, Morientes scored his first professional goal, opening a 2–0 home win over Racing de Santander. He got his first start a week later in a 1–5 loss at RCD Español, and finished the campaign with a total of five goals in 20 league games; additionally, he found the net in each leg of a 3–2 aggregate win over holders Real Zaragoza in the last-16 of the Copa del Rey.
Morientes transferred to Zaragoza in 1995, where he spent another two seasons, often being partnered up front by Dani, a Real Madrid youth graduate. He made his debut on 9 September away to Real Betis, scoring the team's goal after 48 minutes but being sent off seven minutes later for striking Jaime. On 10 January of the following year, he scored his first professional hat-trick in a 3–2 win at Athletic Bilbao for the domestic cup; his first such feat in the league followed on 3 February in a 4–1 win over Valencia CF at La Romareda, and eight days later he scored the first goal at SD Compostela and also received his marching orders with his team winning 2–1 (eventual 2–3 defeat).
Morientes' performances for Zaragoza caught the eye of Spanish giants Real Madrid, which bought the player in the summer of 1997 for approximately €6.6 million. Initially backing up established Predrag Mijatović and Davor Šuker, he finished as starter and managed 12 goals in his first year in 33 matches, squad-best (with the two players who fought with him for a starting berth netting ten apiece, as youth system prodigy Raúl); the team finished fourth in the league, but won the season's UEFA Champions League.
Morientes performed very well in the 1998–99 campaign, scoring 19 goals in the league and 25 in 38 appearances overall. He continued to display top football in 1999–2000, netting 19 times and finishing as Real's top scorer in a year where he also helped to the capital side's second Champions League title in three seasons, scoring in the 3–0 win over Valencia CF in an all-Spanish final; in the next season, he won the first of two league titles with Real Madrid and netted ten goals overall, including four in eight appearances in the Champions League in a semi-final exit to eventual winners FC Bayern Munich – he missed the last weeks due to injury.
In 2001–02, Real failed to win the league after losing out to Valencia. Morientes continued his scoring form, however, scoring 18 league goals in only 25 starts, with six substitute appearances. He also netted five in a 7–0 demolition of UD Las Palmas, missing out on a double hat-trick after missing from the penalty spot late in the match; he finished second in the top scorers list for the season, tied with Patrick Kluivert and behind Deportivo de La Coruña's Diego Tristán, as the Merengues were successful in winning the Champions League after beating Bayer 04 Leverkusen – he played in the final and received a third Champions League winners medal.
In the summer of 2002, Real Madrid signed Brazilian superstar Ronaldo from Inter Milan. This fueled rumours that Morientes would soon be leaving the club, with FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur reportedly interested – the former were reportedly on the verge of signing the player for around €22 million, but the move fell through due to Barça's reluctance to match his wage demands. Eventually, he decided to stay at Madrid, but as predicted he did not feature as much in the side after the arrival of Ronaldo, who was preferred to Morientes in the starting lineup along with Raúl. He eventually fell down the pecking order of strikers to Guti and Javier Portillo and, during a February 2003 home win against Borussia Dortmund – 2–1 in the Champions League second group stage – was involved in a highly publicised spat with club manager Vicente del Bosque, with the player allegedly insulting the coach after being called to enter the pitch as a third replacement in the dying minutes; in the winter transfer window, despite continuous rumours of moves to Tottenham, Zaragoza, A.S. Roma, and A.C. Milan, he remained at the club for the remainder of the season, as Real went on to win the league and the player earned his second league medal, making a total of 15 appearances (with three starts) and scoring five goals.
At the start of the 2003–04 season, it was evident Morientes was not part of Real's plans. After extensive but ultimately unsuccessful negotiations regarding a loan deal with Germany's FC Schalke 04, he was loaned to Ligue 1 side AS Monaco FC, where he performed very well, netting ten goals in 28 appearances in the league. It was in the Champions League, however, that he really made an impact, finishing as the top scorer at nine goals: Monaco met Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, where he scored a vital away goal in the first leg (2–4 away loss); in the second match he again found the net as his team won 3–1, taking the aggregate score to 5–5 (away goals rule triumph); he also found the net in both games of the last-four victory over Chelsea, but could not prevent a 0–3 loss in the final to FC Porto, played at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen.
After returning to Real Madrid at the start of the 2004–05 campaign, Morientes' hopes of forcing his way into the Real squad were further dampened with the arrival of Michael Owen from Liverpool. He featured in 13 scoreless league matches (all as a substitute), and was transferred to precisely Liverpool in January 2005 for a fee of €9.3 million; during his time at Real he made a total of 182 league appearances (with 112 starts), scoring 82 goals.
Morientes made his debut for Liverpool on 15 January 2005 against Manchester United, starting in a 0–1 home loss to the rivals – BBC Sport described his performance as "quiet". He scored his first goal for the club on 1 February, equalising with a 20-yard strike in a 2–1 win at Charlton Athletic, and he followed it four days later with his first goal at Anfield to open a 3–1 success over Fulham after nine minutes. He was cup-tied for the Champions League campaign, and did not feature in the victory against Milan in the final of the competition.
On 10 August 2005, Morientes scored in each half of a 3–1 away win against PFC CSKA Sofia in the first leg of the third qualifying round for the season's Champions League. His form in the league was inconsistent, but on 10 December he netted a five-minute brace in a 2–0 home success over Middlesbrough, Liverpool's seventh consecutive. On 21 March 2006, he scored in a 7–0 routing at Birmingham City for the FA Cup, finishing Steven Gerrard's cross three minutes after entering in place of Peter Crouch; the tournament went on to end in conquest, with the player replacing Harry Kewell early in the second half of the final against West Ham United.
Morientes totalled 12 goals in 60 appearances, also winning the 2005 UEFA Super Cup and playing on the losing side in the 2005 Football League Cup Final and the 2005 FIFA Club World Championship Final.
Morientes transferred to Valencia in late May 2006 for a fee reported to be around £3 million. Here, he started to regain his form, scoring on his league debut – a 2–1 home win against Betis – and also netting a hat-trick in his first Champions League game against Olympiacos FC. He linked up well with David Villa and scored 12 league goals in 24 games, and was also Valencia's top scorer in the Champions League with seven; his good form throughout the 2006–07 season also earned him a recall to the national side.
For 2007–08, Morientes and Villa were joined in the strike force by Nikola Žigić and Javier Arizmendi. The campaign, however, was disappointing, as the Che were knocked out of the Champions League after finishing fourth in the group, and manager Quique Sánchez Flores was sacked following a poor run of form. Morientes picked up an injury in December 2007 that ruled him out for almost three months, and he made his return to the team against Sevilla FC on 15 March 2008; he also came off the bench to score the third and final goal in Valencia's 3–1 win over Getafe CF in the final of the Copa del Rey, the following month.
Morientes missed out on a further few league games after he was hospitalised in April with abdominal pains and fever. He was released from hospital in time for the final two matches of the season, but played no part in either.
Having begun the following campaign as an unused substitute in Valencia's first league game, and only coming on from the bench in the second, Morientes was handed his first start in a UEFA Cup match against C.S. Marítimo, and he scored the only goal in Portugal through a solo effort at the 12-minute mark. His increasing age and the form of Villa and Juan Mata, however, led to only a handful of appearances in the league; as the team was ousted in the round-of-32, he still finished as their top scorer in the European competition, at three goals in seven matches.
On 27 July 2009, Morientes agreed a deal to join France's Olympique de Marseille on a free transfer for one year, reuniting with former Monaco boss Didier Deschamps. During his first and only season he was only the fourth of five strikers in the squad, his only Ligue 1 goal coming on 26 September in what his first start, opening a 2–3 loss at Valenciennes FC.
Morientes was released on 1 July 2010, by mutual consent. On 31 August, the 34-year-old announced his retirement from football.
Morientes started his career as manager with Huracán Valencia CF, taking charge of its youth academy. In 2012 he returned to Real Madrid, being appointed at the Juvenil B team in the youth academy.
In January 2015, at 38, Morientes returned to playing, signing with DAV Santa Ana in the Madrid regional championships. In June, he became manager of CF Fuenlabrada, but was sacked the following 17 February with the team 11th in Segunda División B.
Morientes was a reliable performer for the Spanish national team since 1998, scoring a brace in the first five minutes of his debut against Sweden on 25 March and adding a further two in each of his next two games, against Northern Ireland and Bulgaria respectively. He ranked fourth on the Spanish all-time topscorer's list with 27 goals in 47 appearances, behind former Real Madrid teammate Raúl, former Valencia teammate Villa and former Madrid captain Fernando Hierro (who took the majority of Spain's free kicks and penalties), although his goals-to-games ratio was higher than Raúl and Hierro.
Morientes netted five goals in the two FIFA World Cups he featured in, with two goals in 1998 and three in 2002. In the latter edition Morientes and Raúl played together up front, and both showed impressive form in the tournament; during the knock-out round match against South Korea the former scored a goal in extra-time that was disallowed, although replays suggested the goal was legitimate – Spain eventually lost the match on penalties.
Morientes was a surprise omission at UEFA Euro 2000, but played at Euro 2004 in Portugal, where he scored one of only two goals that Spain could manage, in a subsequent group stage exit. He also played for the nation during the 2006 World Cup qualifiers; however, due to his poor club form for Liverpool, he was not chosen by national team coach Luis Aragonés in the final squad for the tournament, although he was part of an initial 31-man list.
Following his return to form after moving to Valencia, Morientes was recalled to the national side. He scored his 27th goal for Spain in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Denmark on 24 March 2007; injured four days later against Iceland in another qualifying contest, he was not recalled again.
Morientes was one of the top strikers of his generation, forming a notable and highly successful partnership with Raúl at Real Madrid. A quick, creative and hard-working player, he excelled in the air and was an accurate finisher with his head and with his feet, both inside and outside the area; he was also an accurate free kick taker, and was capable of playing off another striker.
In his later career, as he lost his pace, Morientes often played in a supporting role, using his strength and control to hold up the ball for teammates.
Morientes was featured in the EA Sports' FIFA video game series: he was on the cover for the Spanish edition of FIFA 99, and also appeared in FIFA Football 2005.Real MadridUEFA Champions League: 1997–98, 1999–2000, 2001–02Intercontinental Cup: 1998, 2002UEFA Super Cup: 2002La Liga: 2000–01, 2002–03Supercopa de España: 1997, 2001, 2003MonacoUEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2003–04LiverpoolFA Cup: 2005–06UEFA Super Cup: 2005Football League Cup: Runner-up 2004–05FIFA Club World Cup: Runner-up 2005ValenciaCopa del Rey: 2007–08MarseilleLigue 1: 2009–10Coupe de la Ligue: 2009–10Spain U21UEFA European Under-21 Championship: Runner-up 1996UEFA Club Forward of the Year: 2003–04UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 2003–04Ligue 1 Team of the Year: 2003–04