Monday 02 June 2014
Striker Rickie Lambert has spoken about the fulfilment of a boyhood dream after joining Liverpool from Southampton.
"I know how big Liverpool are - and it means everything to me"
The 32-year-old striker, who is part of England's FIFA World Cup squad, put pen to paper on the deal after completing a medical at the club's training ground.
Lambert, who was at Liverpool as a youth player, expressed his delight at sealing the transfer. "I can't believe it," he told the club website. "I've loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago – and I haven't stopped loving it since.
"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.
"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."
Lambert, who has played for Blackpool, Macclesfield Town, Stockport County and Rochdale, joined Southampton in the summer of 2009 from Bristol Rovers and played a key role in taking Saints from League One to the Barclays Premier League.
He has made a total of 75 top-flight appearances, scoring 28 goals. Last season he scored 13 goals as Saints finished eighth in the League table.
"I've seen Rickie Lambert over the years and he's one of those players that probably never got the recognition for what a really good footballer he is," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. "It's only late on in his career – at 29, 30, 31 – that people are really starting to focus on his qualities. He was probably seen as the traditional big No 9, a British striker that is good in the air.
"Rickie will forever remain an icon in the history of the club"
"But he's one of the most accomplished footballers I've seen. It has been so refreshing that he's got his call into the England team, and he certainly hasn't let anyone down – he has been outstanding. I think he is a terrific footballer and any team he plays against, he's always a handful."
In an open letter published on the Southampton website, Lambert thanked staff, players and fans for their support over the last five years: "When I grew up there was only one club I loved. I can honestly say now I have two clubs which will always be in my heart and that is thanks to the Saints fans.
"The people who support this club have been nothing short of amazing towards me and, when I look back in years to come, it will be the relationship I had with the fans here which will stand out the most.
"Southampton have allowed me to realise a lifelong ambition by joining Liverpool FC and taking my family home. The five-year plan when I arrived was to get this club from League 1 to the top half of the Premier League. Against all the odds we have achieved that."
Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger added: "On behalf of the club, I would like to thank Rickie. He served with distinction and helped to take Saints from League One to the Premier League.
"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."