The big transfer news so far today is that Rickie Lambert has joined Liverpool for around £4.5 million, 17 years after leaving the club as a teenager. The 32-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Reds, becoming Brendan Rodgers’ first signing of the summer.
Lambert, who scored 117 goals in 235 appearances for the Saints since 2009, sent an open letter to the club’s fans to say thank you and goodbye. He also spoke to Liverpool FC’s official website today and expressed his delight with the move to Anfield:
“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,’ he said.
“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.”
The letter below is clearly a heartfelt and well-articulated gesture from a man who appreciates the love shown to him during his spell on the south coast of England, but is it the latest part of an unnecessary trend in football? Most fans realise that professional athletes have to move on when bigger opportunities present themselves, so like the non-celebration when scoring against a former club, could the open letter to former fans become just as commonplace? For example, Ryan Giggs , Victor Valdés and Alessandro Del Piero (in 2012) have done likewise, but each of those were to announce either retirements or career wind-downs.
Lambert isn’t even the only player today to have released an open thank-you letter. Midfielder Jack Collison released a 2,800 word missive to West Ham fans on his release from Upton Park.
What do you think? Here’s Lambert’s letter in full:
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.
First I have to thank Markus Liebherr for saving Southampton then Alan Pardew for bringing me to the club.
Thank you to all the staff involved in making me the player I am today. Without your knowledge and commitment I would not be here right now at a World Cup with England.
Thank you to all the players, past and present, who I have had nothing but good times and success with driven by our club captain, Kelvin Davis. I love every last one of you.
Thank you to the managers I have worked with – Alan, Nigel and Mauricio – and their teams for helping me and Southampton step up and adapt to every challenge that has come our way the past five years.
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.
Southampton have allowed me to realise a lifelong ambition by joining Liverpool FC and taking my family home. The five-year plan when I arrived was to get this club from League 1 to the top half of the Premier League. Against all the odds we have achieved that.
Now, under Katharina Liebherr’s leadership, the club has the chance for new plan, a new chapter, and I wish them all the success in the world.