Striker Rickie Lambert have completed a “dream” return to Liverpool 17 years after being released by the club as a youngster.
Southampton confirmed on Monday that the World Cup-bound England striker will play for the ‘Reds’ next season, after completing a £4m switch.
“I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn’t think the chance would come,” said Lambert.
“I know how big Liverpool are – and it means everything to me – but I know what is important; I know it’s what I do on the pitch and the minutes I play. I know that’s what matters, and that’s what I’ll be focused on.”
After the Anfield club released the striker as a youngster – and then suffering the same fate at Blackpool – Lambert spent the summer of 2001 working in a beetroot factory, before Macclesfield offered him £50 a week in travel expenses.
His meteoric rise to football stardom has now seen him earn four caps for England and is part of Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad.
The 32-year-old, who scored 117 goals in 235 appearances for the ‘Saints’, took a time out from England’s World Cup preparations to complete the transfer, after passing a medical, agreeing terms; he signed completed the transfer formalities at the club’s Melwood training base, before leaving for Miami with his country on Sunday.
Saints chairman Ralph Krueger said: “Rickie has been a shining light in Saints’ growth and will forever remain an icon in the history of the club. He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at Southampton and will always be welcome back at St Mary’s.”