Lambert joy at 'dream' Reds move
Published 02/06/2014 | 16:42
Striker Rickie Lambert's return to Liverpool is genuinely a dream come true for the player but the Reds are going to have more difficulty bringing his Southampton team-mate Adam Lallana to Anfield.
The 32-year-old Lambert, released from the Merseysiders' academy as a teenager, confirmed his "homecoming" on Monday after signing a two-year deal.
Saints, having accepted a £4million bid late last week, admitted they could not stand in the way of a return to his boyhood club.
However, they will not be so obliging with Lallana, whom they value higher than Liverpool's £25million take-it-or-leave-it bid on Thursday as they have a 25 per cent sell-on clause with Bournemouth.
"We are deep in the process of appointing a new manager who will continue to move our club forward," said a Saints statement.
"It remains our preference not to partake in any transfers until the new manager is in place.
"We are staying true to our plan and vision and, as a result, we have no need to accept any offers."
Liverpool's offer will remain on the table but they have alternative targets, one of whom is Bayern Munich's Xherdan Shaqiri.
The club's pursuit of Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno remains at the negotiation stage but at least Lambert has enjoyed an emotional homecoming all round.
"I'm not going to say the words I said to my agent when he first told me! I thought he was lying at first," the striker, who has a Liver bird tattoo on one of his shoulders, told liverpoolfc.com.
"I've been trying to let it sink in for a week and it still hasn't. Even now, I am finding it hard to allow it to sink in.
"My mum and dad shed a few tears when I told them, especially my mum.
It's not just playing for Liverpool, it's the fact I'm coming home.
"The fact they've got their son home - and the fact he's playing for Liverpool - is unbelievable.
"It's going to be hard to keep my emotions in check the first time I pull on the Liverpool shirt.
"These kind of moments are driving me on. When I get these moments, I seem to produce my best performances and I'm able to use it to my advantage - any emotions, any nerves and any excitement I have.
"I am hoping that will continue in my Liverpool career."
The story of Lambert's career is well-documented as, after being released by Liverpool he joined Blackpool for an unsuccessful spell as a trainee and, having famously been employed in a factory putting lids on jars of beetroot, he then worked his way through the lower leagues with Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before signing for Southampton.
It is testament to the player's attitude that he refused to give up after the heartbreak of being let go by his boyhood club but he admits that was a significant motivating force.
"It was absolutely devastating. I can remember at the time thinking I wasn't going to be a footballer - I'd been dropped from Liverpool and it was the end of the world for me," he added.
"At the time, I thought nothing was ever going to feel worse than that but I can tell people now life goes on and you shouldn't let it hit you too much.
"When people were telling me I couldn't do it, of course I wasn't going to listen to them - I was going to find somewhere else to play football.
"I would have been happy playing League One, League Two, Conference wherever. I was always going to play football.
"Since I have been taking it seriously and believing in myself, all my dreams, wishes and what I wanted at the start have come true in the end but I never thought I'd manage to get back here.
"I have thought about it all my life. It was something I always thought of when I was a kid.
"When I knew of the interest from Liverpool, the first thought was of playing and scoring in front of the Kop and how it might be a possibility.
"Now that I've signed, it could become a reality."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers' interest in Lambert came as something of a surprise but the Reds boss has been aware for some time what the striker can offer.
"It's only late on in his career - at 29, 30, 31 - that people are really starting to focus on his qualities but he's one of the most accomplished footballers I've seen," Rodgers said.