Rickie Lambert says that it was mixed emotions for him as he made his Liverpool debut.
The veteran striker was finally able to live the dream of playing for his boyhood club when he came on to the field against Southampton in the Reds' 2-1 victory on Sunday.
Although he says that it was a special moment, Lambert admits that there were slightly mixed emotions for him as he made his debut against a club that meant so much to him.
“It was so special,” he said. “I managed to get on and play my debut, it was mixed emotions against my old teammates. We scored the winner so I made a little contribution and it was excellent.
“I love the Southampton fans, I’ve got a good relationship with them so it was nice they acknowledge me in the way they did. I tried to acknowledge them in the same manner and I have nothing but respect for Southampton football club – the players and the fans.”
Lambert was cheered on by Southampton fans who have clearly forgiven him for his decision to leave the club this summer.
The 32-year-old was one of a number of their stars to leave during the transfer window, but Saints supporters have been understanding of Lambert’s decision due to his genuine affinity towards Liverpool.
Prior to his move, he established himself as a legend on the south-coast. He made 207 appearances and scored 106 goals in a five-year stay at St. Mary’s, where he played across three divisions and spearheaded the club’s attack as they returned to the Premier League.
His rise was completed yesterday, as he returned to the club who he was released by as a youngster and he did, indeed, make some impact.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hailed him as a game-changer and, although that statement may be a little hyperbolic, Lambert’s introduction came just before they scored the telling goal, with Daniel Sturridge tapping in a late winner.
It was a huge moment for Liverpool as they look to prove to supporters that they can cope without Luis Suarez and retain their Champions League status that they worked so hard to reclaim last season.
If they are to do so, then Lambert will be required to make more telling contributions than that, and he will be hoping that a solid debut is the start of a positive time at Anfield.