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Lambert completes Liverpool switch
Rickie Lambert admits he has "always dreamt of playing for Liverpool" after the the striker completed his £4 million move from Southampton.
Lambert left Anfield as a junior player and made his name in the lower leagues, rising through the ranks with Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before joining Southampton, then a League 1 side.
'I love every last one of you'
- Rickie Lambert has issued an open letter to Southampton fans on the club's official website.
- He wrote: "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.
- "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. I love every last one of you.
- "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."
But 117 goals in 235 appearances at St Mary's have seen the 32-year-old seal a spot in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad, as well as his dream move to Liverpool, in what he has described as a "crazy year".
"I can't believe it," Lambert told the Liverpool website. "I've loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago - and I haven't stopped loving it since. To be back here now having just signed at the age of 32 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. It was a shock when I heard Liverpool were in for me.
"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."
"I've been trying to keep it as quiet as possible and tell only my close family. My mum and dad shed a few tears when I told them, especially my mum. It's not just playing for Liverpool, it's the fact I'm coming home."
Lambert, who scored 28 goals in his first two campaigns in the Premier League, is expected to provide back-up for first-choice strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge as Liverpool prepare for Champions League football next season on top of their domestic requirements.