Lifelong Liverpool fan Lambert ready for new season
Çetin Cem Yılmaz LIVERPOOL - Hürriyet Daily News
Liverpool’s new signing Rickie Lambert, a lifelong fan of the Reds, will play his first game for the team against Southampton – the club he has played for during the last five years.The start of the new English Premier League season this weekend is exciting for virtually every football fan in the world, but there is one person starting the campaign with a bigger deal of emotions.
Liverpool forward Rickie Lambert, a lifelong fan of the Reds, will play his first game for the team against Southampton – the club he has played for during the last five years. Lambert says him facing his former club on the first day of the season on Aug. 16 was something written in the stars.
“I think I was in the house waiting for the fixtures to come through, I heard it and just laughed really, I couldn’t believe it. It was always going to be,” he said while talking at LFC Member’s Family Day where members were able to see the first team train. “I said before ‘it’s gonna be Southampton,’ I thought it was gonna be at St. Mary’s, but it’s at Anfield. It was inevitable.”
The 32-year-old’s return to Merseyside is surely one of the Premier League’s most romantic stories this season. He was born and brought up on Merseyside, joined Liverpool at 10 and yet was released as a teenager. After, he plied his trade in several clubs, including Blackpool, Macclesfield Town, Stockport County, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers and Southampton. During his long journey, he has scored goals in every single one of English football’s top four leagues.
Grabbing the chance
After leading Southampton to the Premier League and continuing his goals on the top-flight, Lambert won his first England cap at the age of 31, scoring against Scotland in a friendly, in his first touch after being brought on. His run even won him a place in England’s plane to Brazil for the World Cup. Now his fairytale run will be capped with a Champions League appearance, as Liverpool returns to European football’s zenith after four years of absence.
“It’s what every player wants, it’s something I thought I may of never had in my career, but I’ve got a chance, so I’m gonna grab it with both hands,” Lambert said. “It’s not what we’re focused on right now, it’s Southampton, we’re getting fit and sharp for the Premier League. When the Champions League comes round, it’s special at Liverpool.”
Liverpool won its fifth European title in 2005 in Istanbul, coming off a 3-0 defeat to level the game and win penalties in arguably the single most dramatic final of all time. As a fan, Lambert has fond memories of that game.
“I remember trying to persuade my friend not to go home at half time, that took a good 10 minutes! But in the end I did persuade him, he stayed and we had a good time, we were on holiday at the time,” he said. “I managed to go to all the home games, but that one I didn’t manage to, which I was gutted about, but we still had a good night.”
However, Liverpool’s main target will be trying to go one better than last season’s runner-up finish in the Premier League. With Luis Suarez, the club’s top goal scorer in the last three season, headed to Barcelona and contenders Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United boosting their squads with big signings, it will not be an easy ask for Liverpool. But the towering striker is confident.
“I can see the confidence in everyone around the club and now they can go on and win something. We’re gonna be looking for the Premier League, first and foremost, and improve on last season,” Lambert said. “We want to win a cup too, we’re desperate for silverware, I think we’re definitely mentally strong enough to go and do it.”
But still, Lambert is not getting carried away with expectations and plans. At 32, he will be relishing every moment at Liverpool, trying to do just what he does best.
“I can’t wait,” he said of the start of the season. “I’ve got two years contracted at Liverpool, I’m just gonna enjoy every minute. I’ve got a job to do; I’m looking forward to doing my part.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead, to be honest; it’s all about the Southampton game. I’m fit now and I’m going to get fitter; I’ve got another week and a half to go until the first game of the season, and that’s all I’m focused on,” he said. “I don’t want to look too far ahead.”
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