Rickie Lambert: Charting the Rise and Rise of New Liverpool Signing
The 32-year-old has signed for the Anfield club after being released by the Reds as a youngster.
Lambert has enjoyed an unbelievable rise in his career from his early days in the lower leagues through to a place in the England World Cup squad this year.
And the boyhood Liverpool supporter will return from Brazil as a Reds player after signing for a fee of around £4.5 million.
Let's take a look at the genuine Roy of the Rovers fairytale.
Release by Liverpool Is 'End of the World' for 15-Year-Old Lambert
Lambert had begun his career as a young player with Liverpool but was released by Academy director Steve Heighway.
The former Liverpool winger let the then 15-year-old striker to go after five years in the junior ranks with the club, as Ian Herbert and Robin Scott Elliott of the London Evening Standard reported.
Lambert is quoted as saying:
I never hold any grudges. These things either make or break you.
At the time he (Heighway)was quite right to let me go. I wasn't good enough.
I thought it was the end of the world.
Blackpool, Macclesfield Town and a Beetroot Factory
But the forward made just two more appearances for the Seasiders before being released by former Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon, who was then manager at Bloomfield Road.
Lambert was without a club for four months and took a job in a beetroot factory to make ends meet while training with Macclesfield Town, as Sam Wallace of The Independent noted.
Lambert is quoted as saying:
I wasn’t getting paid for four or five months. It was a very difficult time.
I was debating what I could do outside the game. But I didn’t want to do anything outside of football.
So I was trying my best to get to training at Macclesfield because it wasn’t close. It was an hour and 15 minutes to train with them.
The beetroot factory was one of the only jobs I could get at the time. I was putting lids on jars. I was getting paid £20 a day. I would work in the day and go training at evening.
Macclesfield signed the striker permanently in March 2001, and the forward rewarded the Third Division club by scoring 10 goals in 40 appearances in his one near-full season with the club.
He then earned £300,000 for the Moss Rose coffers when he joined Stockport County in April 2002.
Stockport County, Rochdale and Career-Turning Move to Bristol Rovers
After a disappointing first year with Stockport, Lambert enjoyed his most successful season as a professional footballer in the 2003-04 campaign. His 13 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions helped the club stave off the threat of relegation.
But the Hatters struggled again the following season, and Lambert dropped down a division to join Rochdale in Feb. 2005.
The striker found goalscoring form in his first full season with the Spotland team, firing 22 goals in 50 appearances throughout the campaign.
And those figures helped to secure another transfer, this time to Bristol Rovers for £200,000 in Aug. 2006.
It was the move that would redefine Lambert's career, and his winning goal against Southampton sent the Pirates into the FA Cup quarter-finals in 2008, as BBC Sport reported.
In the following season, Lambert finished joint-top goalscorer with Swindon Town's Simon Cox in the division, and that was enough to convince Southampton to make their move.
Spearheading Consecutive Promotions with Southampton
After hitting 59 goals in 155 games for Bristol Rovers, Lambert joined Southampton in Aug. 2009 in a transfer worth over £1 million to his former club.
The Saints had been relegated from the Championship in the previous season, and the striker was viewed as the man to spearhead an immediate return by then-manager Alan Pardew.
Lambert finished the season as the club's top scorer, but Southampton finished outside of the play-off positions.
In Sept. 2010, Nigel Adkins was appointed to succeed Pardew, who had been sacked in the previous month, and the club and Lambert were set on an upward trajectory.
The Saints clinched promotion back to the Championship with the help of 21 goals in 50 games in all competitions from the striker.
Even better was to follow in the 2011-12 season, as Adkins guided the Saints back into the top flight. Lambert picked up the Championship Player of the Year award, as BBC Sport reported.
He finished the season with 31 goals in all competitions, with 25 of those coming in the league.
Scoring on Premier League Debut at Manchester City
Lambert had only been in Premier League action for a matter of minutes after replacing Jay Rodriguez when he made his first mark on the top flight.
The forward's goal was not enough to prevent Southampton falling to a 3-2 defeat at Manchester City on the opening day of the season, but Lambert would go on to add to his tally with strikes against Manchester United and a double in the Saints' first win of the campaign against Aston Villa.
The goal at the Etihad Stadium also ensured Lambert became one of only four players to score in all four divisions of English football.
Lambert finished his first Premier League as the club's top goalscorer with 15 in 38 league appearances.
His form throughout the campaign had not gone unnoticed, though, and another first was just around the corner in Aug. 2013.
Plays and Scores Winning Goal on England Debut vs. Scotland
Even before a ball was kicked in the 2013-14 Premier League season, Lambert was boosted by a first-ever call-up to the England squad, as BBC Sport reported.
His inclusion in Roy Hodgson's squad came on the same day as the birth of his daughter in the kind of 24 hours few can dream of.
Midway through the second half of the friendly against Scotland at Wembley, Lambert was brought on for Wayne Rooney for his first cap in the 67th minute.
Three minutes later, his debut turned gold.
With the scoreline level at 2-2, the Southampton forward rose highest in the Scotland area to meet a Leighton Baines corner and head home the winner.
Lambert has now scored twice for England in four appearances and will travel to Brazil with the squad for the World Cup finals in Brazil.
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