TELEGRAPH – World Cup 2014: England striker Rickie Lambert says football gets easier the higher up he goes
England and Liverpool striker says the game gets easier the higher the level he plays atDetails
England and Liverpool striker says the game gets easier the higher the level he plays atDetails
By Chris Rowland. It was confirmed today that Rickie Lambert, 32, has signed for Liverpool from Southampton for a fee of about £4m plus add-ons. So here’s a quick look at the classic rags-to-riches story of our new striker. After being released by Liverpool as a youngster – and then suffering the same fate at Blackpool (where manager and former Liverpool player Steve McMahon released him from his contract) - Rickie Lambert spent the summer of 2001 working in a beetroot factory, before Macclesfield offered him £50 a week in travel expenses. 13 years on and after spells at Rochdale, Stockport, Bristol Rovers and Southampton, the 32-year-old has four caps for England and was selected for England’s World Cup squad for Brazil. After scoring 117 goals in 235 appearances for Southampton, now he has sealed a dream return to Anfield: “I can’t believe it. I’ve loved this club all my life. To be back here now is hard to describe.””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’s meteoric rise from football’s lower leagues looked as though it had peaked when he received his first England call-up at the age of 31 – the same day his wife gave birth to his third child, Bella Rose. He scored the winner on his England debut against Scotland. In his first interview with the official website, Lambert was asked: What’s been your greatest moment as a Liverpool supporter? “It’s easily Istanbul. I wasn’t able to go, but I went to all of the home games. The Chelsea game still stands out for me. I was on holiday with my mates and we watched it [Istanbul] – it was one of the best nights of my life, without a doubt. I think every Liverpool fan would say the same. We spoke to you ahead of the Southampton versus Liverpool game a few months back and you said you’d learnt to manage your emotions when facing Liverpool. How do you think you’ll be feeling when you run out at Anfield as a Liverpool player? “It’s going to be hard to keep my emotions in check the first time I pull on the Liverpool shirt – I’m not going to lie! It’s going to be very emotional, not just for me but also for my family. 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. Lambert has also written an open letter to everyone at Southampton after his move to Liverpool: “What can I say…? Southampton has been my life for the past five years, in which we have achieved all of our dreams and more. “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.” So what does Brendan Rodgers think of Lambert – apart from being enough to want to sign him, obviously? Rodgers told the club’s website: “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. “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. “Look at his touch, look at the level of his goals, the different types of goals he has scored over his career, and he’s a specialist on penalties as well. I think he is a terrific footballer and any team he plays against, he’s always a handful.” Here’s a YouTube video of Rickie Lambert goals and assists last season, posted variously by Vin, ACSGP and Krishaldo. Beez posted a table showing duels, aerial duels and passing accuracy to illustrate that any suggestion that Lambert may be a “bruising English centre forward, lethal in the air” etc may be wide of the mark, and another table showing Lambert’s chance creation stats. And Paul Tomkins weighed in with some stats showing Lambert’s footballing stats are more impressive than his heading ones. Yet more stats came from Dan Kennett and Beez, who concluded “There’s a hell of a lot of ability in Lambert!” Yet more career stats: Blackpool: 3 games, 0 goals (1998-2000) Macclesfield: 49 games, 10 goals (2001-2002) Stockport: 110 games, 19 goals (2002-2005) Rochdale: 68 games, 28 goals (2005-2006) Bristol Rovers: 155 games, 59 goals (2006-2009) Southampton: 235 games, 117 goals (2009-2014) There’s a comprehensive profile of Rickie Lambert by Chris Wood on the lfchistory.net website.Details
The Stoke City midfielder’s clash with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud is only the latest in a series of challenging encountersFred McConnellDetails
Stoke midfielder has dealt with personal problems and has Mark Hughes to thank for resurrecting his careerGiven that Charlie Adam has made a name for himself as a creative midfielder, it may seem curious to hear him state with complete conviction: “I am at my best when I am scoring goals.”Goals are the very thing which have endorsed Adam’s return to prominence. This, his finest spell of football since he was virtually winning matches single-handedly for Blackpool, has been most notable for goals against Liverpool and Manchester United.It was in July 2011 that Adam’s brilliance at Blackpool deemed him worthy of a £7m move to Liverpool. Just 13 months later, the Scot had departed Anfield for Stoke City. That may have been a brief stint on Merseyside but Adam still raised eyebrows with his lack of celebration in front of Liverpool’s supporters when scoring for Stoke against his former club in mid-January.”I have a fantastic respect for Liverpool the city, club and the fans, from the time I spent there,” Adam explains. “That respect will always be there. The fans were fantastic to me, the facilities we had and players I played alongside were amazing. It doesn’t make any sense for me to be celebrating in front of those fans. I had an amazing time at Liverpool; of course I was delighted to score that goal but I still wanted to show some respect.”It is unsurprising, then, that Adam expresses no regrets whatsoever about his time as a Liverpool player. There is only a minimal one concerning the time of his departure. “I went there and played with some of the best players in the country,” he says. “You only have to look at how well Liverpool are doing – and Luis Suárez in particular – this season to see that. I experienced life at a massive club and enjoyed it. I learned from it as well, as a person and a player.”The reaction to defeats is different, I hate getting beaten anyway but at big clubs it is a crisis. At Stoke, maybe there would be a tendency to just look towards the next game after losing but I enjoyed the pressure of having to win every single week and it’s something we have tried to create here, too.”It is to Adam’s credit that he left Liverpool, high wages and a potentially comfortable position of collecting them for little exertion, to take on the reality of mid-table or relegation struggles at Stoke. Others might have adopted a different approach.”Playing at big clubs is what you want to do,” he adds. “In my case, it was just that I felt I had to be playing regularly. I could have stayed there and just seen what happened but I had a chat with [the manager] Brendan Rodgers and he told me I wasn’t going to play as much as I wanted to. From there, it made sense for me to move. Maybe it was a year too early to leave, when you look at what Liverpool have done since, but it felt like the right choice at the time and hopefully that proves the case.”Adam became the latest player to pile misery on David Moyes at the start of this month. And the United manager’s brother Kenny, ironically, is the agent who presided over Adam’s move to Liverpool. Two Adam goals – he has the good grace to admit the first had a huge chunk of fortune attached – saw off United in Stoke. Like Liverpool, the Premier League champions had been reminded of the recurring dangers of affording Adam a shooting opportunity even outside of the penalty area.”I’m not so sure about the first but the second is up there, certainly, with the best moments in my career,” Adam admits. “People have said a lot about where they are just now but this was Manchester United, they are one of the biggest clubs in the world, and for our club to beat them was a massive achievement. Rooney, Van Persie and Mata all played that day. It was the first time we had beaten them in 30 years and the first time in the Premier League, which tells you how big it was.”At home we feel we can beat anybody but United still have some of the best players in the world. It was a great testament to how well we played that day that we managed to win and, of course, as a kid it is one of the things you dream of – scoring the winner against Manchester United.”Adam has spoken in moving terms before about the impact the loss of the main influence from those childhood years had on him. His father, Charlie Sr, died in December 2012 at the age of just 50; Adam’s form unsurprisingly dipped in the aftermath of that, with Stoke also affording him compassionate leave.”It affected me, of course it did,” he recalls. “I’m not over it yet but I know what I am doing now. I am getting my form back. When you are happy and playing regular football, that can make life a lot easier.”It would also be folly to ignore the part Stoke City’s manager, Mark Hughes, has played in that. Adam’s usefulness to a team which is less back-to-front in style than in previous seasons should come as no coincidence.”The manager has given me a freedom to play my game, which I appreciate,” says Adam. “He has let me do what I am good at. He has helped me in terms of what I should and shouldn’t be doing on the pitch. The manager has played at the highest level and won trophies at the highest level. I have respected every manager I have played under but if you can’t learn from someone like Mark Hughes, it is going to be hard for you.”Adam’s wider ambition concerns the return to a Scotland side in which he has been reduced to a bit-part role under Gordon Strachan. The national team’s improvement has played a part in that, as did Adam’s lack of first-team action during the early months of Strachan’s tenure.”I want to get back in there but I know I needed to be playing regularly at my club,” says the 28-year-old. “My next cap will be my 25th and that will mean an awful lot to me. It would be amazing to finally qualify for something with Scotland. A dream.”Stoke’s more immediate task could hardly be more stern. A team with just a solitary away league victory to their name this season travel to Manchester City, who have rattled in 42 goals during 11 home fixtures. Stoke lie just three points above the relegation zone, albeit in 14th place and just one point off 10th.”We are in the [relegation] mix,” says Adam. “We are in that situation where we know a couple of wins would be huge in terms of taking us up the league but a couple of defeats could leave us in trouble. Our away results haven’t been good enough and that’s something we need to pick up.”You just have to look at City’s home results, averaging almost four goals a game, to see how tough it will be. But we will go there and try to keep it as tight as we can. Anything can happen in this league, results over the last few years have shown that. There is no point going to these places without hope.”There is still plenty time for Adam to return to one of English football’s elite; but for the time being, he is revelling in scoring against them.Stoke CityMark HughesScotlandRangersBlackpoolLiverpoolEwan Murraytheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More FeedsDetails
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