Rickie Lambert Retires
Tuesday, 3rd Oct 2017 08:33
Saints legend Rickie Lambert has announced his retirement from football, a man truly one of the most revered players in the club's history.
Rickie Lambert is a true Saints legend, one of the few players who played for the club whom you do not need to mention his full name, just use the word Rickie and all Saints fans will understand exactly who you are talking about.
But when Rickie arrived at Saints in the summer of 2009 he was not a household name, a couple of good seasons at Bristol Rovers had raised his profile, but Saints were not fighting off clubs from the Championship and above for his signing.
His first season was a triumph with 30 League goals and also one at Wembley in the JPT Final.
His second season was a little more sedate with only 21 and there were those that questioned whether he would be able to cut it in the Championship turning 30 during that season, the answer was a resounding 27 goals in the league and Saints and Rickie were in the Premier league.
But surely this would be the end of the fairy tale ?
Nigel Adkins perhaps thought so in the opening game he left Rickie on the bench and played new signing Jay Rodriguez and Guly, but non came Rickie scored a goal and the roller coaster ride was up and running again, 15 Premier League goals was a decent strike rate and enough to see him in the top 10 Premier League scorers.
But surely this was it, he was now 31 Saints were signing big names including Osvaldo, the writing was on the wall.
But what was to be his last season at the club would be a great ending, 13 league goals was seeing his powers wain, but an England cap and début goal would be a fitting end to his time at Saints.
Even the fact that he perhaps went to Liverpool in too much haste was overlooked by the fans such was their love for him, certainly Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana who quickly followed were lambasted but not Rickie.
The good thing in this was he went from St Mary's at the top of his game, he was 32 we did not see a drop in standard, he didn't have to endure the fans on his back as age caught up with him, he left with his reputation intact.
But in going to his boyhood idols Liverpool he perhaps effectively ended his career as a top class player, no one can blame him from going to Liverpool it was his team, his home town and it gave him the chance to truly earn a big pay day, something he had never really had till Saints got in the Premier League.
After leaving St Mary's he would start only 7 league games for Liverpool, only 5 for West Bram and then finally last season only 13 for Cardiff, but the goals were not forthcoming either, only 2 at Liverpool, 1 at West Bram and 4 at Cardiff in three seasons.
Rickie perhaps knew that the time was right to retire.
For Saints fans though he is a legend
League games 197(10) 106 goals
A truly amazing record and a true Roy of the Rovers story of a player who went from the lower leagues to the Premier league and England and took his club with him.
Rickie was like Markus Liebherr, a symbol of the club rising from the ashes from the brink of extinction, he was truly an icon for the supporters.
In his statement Rickie spoke of the fact that the club he truly saw as his best playing days and whose fans he had the special relationship was Saints and the fans feel the same way.
There are some who felt that he should have stayed an extra season or that he should have returned after Liverpool, but I was not one of them, his story at St Mary's was perfect, it did not deserve to be spoiled.
Good luck Rickie, you will always be welcome in Southampton and St Mary's you were more than just a player, you were a legend.
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