Rickie Lambert has been talking about the frustration he felt when Mario Balotelli was deployed in the Liverpool team ahead of him.
Lambert, who was signed by Brendan Rodgers in 2014 for an initial fee of £4million, only spent a year at Anfield after failing to make an impact. He had been released by the club as a teenager so it really was a dream move for him to return to the club that he’d supported all his life.
At the time, Lambert said: “I can’t believe it. 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.”
Sadly, it didn’t work out and Lambert spent most of his time as a Liverpool player watching the likes of Mario Balotelli from the bench or the Main Stand.
Commenting on the situation, Lambert said: ‘Brendan Rodgers brought in Mario Balotelli and put him in ahead of me, and it done my head in to be honest. I couldn’t understand.
“The way he used to train was a disgrace. Off the training pitch he’s quite infectious, a lovely lad. But his persona on the training pitch is not good.
“When he played he did try, and I have come across players with that attitude before, but they are usually good enough to get away with it, but he wasn’t.
“I just didn’t understand how Rodgers was letting him get away with it, and picking him ahead of me. It affected me directly, but it had a negative impact on the team.”
Despite boss Brendan Rodgers speaking highly of Lambert when he signed him, the former Liverpool boss appeared to lose faith in him fairly quickly.
Lambert explained: ‘Pretty early on Rodgers tried to get rid of me to Crystal Palace where Pardew was, so I knew I wasn’t ever going to be top priority.
“I said no immediately, why would leave a club like Southampton for years to come to Liverpool and leave after several weeks to go to Palace?”
Lambert retired from the game in 2017 at the age of 35 following a career that spanned nineteen years.
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