New Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert is in Brazil with the English World Cup squad, yet how he got there is different to any of his fellow Three Lions teammates.
Lambert’s career started where it will probably end – Liverpool. The Reds were his local and favourite team. He was a trainee there until released at the age of 15, when he did not make a place on the Liverpool roster.
After a couple of tryouts and some time working at a beetroot bottling plant, Lambert eventually found himself at Blackpool, where he made his senior debut in 1999. Yet he was struggling in the reserves and was released by the club in 2000.
From there Rickie spent most of his time in League One, with a bit of time in League Two. He became a journeyman, playing for Macclesfield Town, Stockport County, Rochdale, and Bristol Rovers, before eventually landing at Southampton in 2009. Lambert found his game in the lower leagues and he won a couple of Player of the Years and the League One Golden Boot.
At the time, the Saints had been recently relegated from the Championship. They started the 2009 League One season on minus 10 points as a punishment for going into administration. Lambert won the league’s golden boot and player of the year that season, however he would have to wait for another year before the Saints where promoted to the Championship.
As Southampton achieved promotion from the Championship, the big striker’s game went up a level as well, and he was the 2011 Championship player of the year. Suddenly, the kid who could not make it at Blackpool was an EPL striker.
How would he compete in the big league though? The tendency, I believe, was for most people to look at Lambert as a tall, English, old-school centre forward, ignoring his technical abilities and composure, and then write him off.
He started off pretty well, scoring on his Premier League debut off the bench against Manchester City. In doing so, Lambert became one of the rare players to score in four English divisions. The 2012-13 seasons was tough for the Saints, as they did not do much more than avoid relegation.
However, Lambert was granted a call up for the England squad to play against old rivals Scotland. Again, he came off the bench and scored in the dying moments to snatch the game for the English.
Another successful season with the Saints followed in 2013-2014. Lambert had done enough in the EPL to book a ticket to Brazil. Then, unbelievably, Liverpool came knocking and paid Southampton a reported £4 million for the striker. As a youngster, he could not even make the youth team, and know they were paying for him.
So, that takes us to the present day in the tale of Rickie Lambert, with Brazil being the next chapter. Will he surprise us, or has he peaked? Either way, it is nice to know that in today’s world of overhyped youth, there is still room for a battler to grind away and make a mark.