At the age of 30 he gave up sales and marketing to pursue his calling as a coach and ended up in the MLS for two years. He's now moved to Seoul to start again...
There are key differences - largely off the pitch - but Liverpool fan Sam Drury has spotted five things that are similar five years on. A big sale, a big Italian arrival...
* Mathieu Flamini has recorded the highest pass completion rate of any PL regular this season with 92.4%. Three other Arsenal players (Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Mikel Arteta) are in the top five.
* Laurent Koscielny makes more interceptions per game (2.9) than any PL centre-half.
* Arsenal are nine points better off than the same stage last season but have scored one fewer goal. They have the best defence in the PL, having conceded just 18 goals.
* Villa have made just 1% of their shot attempts this season from inside the six-yard box; 55% of efforts come from outside the penalty area.
* Christian Benteke and Libor Kozák are two of six PL players to have scored four goals without registering a single assist.
* Villa's 103 passes v Sunderland was the lowest during any PL game this season.
* Cardiff have had the fewest shots on the Premier League this season with just 209.
* Steven Caulker has blocked more shots (23) than any other PL player.
* Peter Whittingham is the only Cardiff player to average more than one chance created per PL game.
* Ramires has been dribbled past more times (44) than any other PL player this season.
* Eden Hazard has dribbled past more players (72) than any other PL player this season.
* Chelsea are enjoying their best start to a PL season since the title-winning campaign of 2009/10.
* Palace have averaged just 39.5% possession and a pass completion rate of 71.6% so far this season.
* Jason Puncheon had 33 shots without scoring as a Palace player before his penalty against Norwich on New Year's Day.
* Mile Jedinak has made more interceptions (67) than any other PL player this season.
* Everton's players have been fouled more times (258) than any other club this season; Ross Barkley alone has been fouled 56 times.
* Leighton Baines has scored a PL record of 11 consecutive penalties.
* Everton have scored ten goals in the final ten minutes of PL games this season.
* Adel Taarabt has taken more shots (26) than any other PL player without scoring this season.
* Fulham have allowed the opposition more shots (372) than any other PL side.
* Dimitar Berbatov is caught offside more (1.3 times per game) than any other PL player.
* The Tigers mirror Manchester United in attacking primarily down the right-hand side (44%) of the pitch.
* Danny Graham has made only one tackle in 18 PL appearances this season.
* Tom Huddlestone has actually only claimed one PL goal (from 41 shots) and one assist (from 35 key passes) this season.
* Liverpool have scored more goals from set-pieces (14) than any other PL club this season.
* Only Luis Suarez (5.9) and Sergio Aguero (4.1) take more shots per game than Philippe Coutinho (3.9) this season but he has scored just twice from 59 shots.
* Suarez has played more accurate through balls (10) than any other PL player.
* Man City have scored 57 PL goals from just 127 shots on target this season (a goal every 2.23 shots on target). In contrast, Liverpool have scored 46 from 130 shots (a goal every 2.83 shots on target).
* City take the lowest proportion of their shots (34%) from outside the area.
* David Silva creates more chances per game (4.1) than any other PL player but five players (including teammate Jesús Navas) have been credited with more assists.
* United attempt more crosses per game (27) than any other PL team. They attack down the middle of the pitch with just 25% of their attacks.
* Wayne Rooney has been booked more times than any other PL player this season (7) and has moved into the top ten most booked players in PL history with 79 in total.
* United have picked up just nine points against top-half sides - less than West Brom (11), Sunderland (10) and Aston Villa (10).
* Newcastle take the highest proportion of their shots (57%) from outside the penalty area.
* Only Lucas Leiva and Claudio Yacob make more tackles per game (4.1) than Cheick Tioté (3.8).
* Newcastle's season is a mirror image of 2011/12: 20 games, 33 points, 29 goals scored, 25 goals conceded.
* Norwich players have been caught offisde just 23 times this season - the lowest figure in the Premier League.
* Gary Hooper has made only one tackle in 15 PL appearances this season.
* Robert Snodgrass has created a massive 36 chances without being credited with a PL assist this season; only David Silva, Luis Suarez and Mesut Ozil create more chances per game.
* Saints players have been caught offside 63 times this season; the next-highest figure is 56 from Chelsea.
* They play more long balls per game (70) than any other PL side - just above Aston Villa, Fulham and West Ham.
* Adam Lallana has been dispossessed more times (48) than any other PL player this season while Jay Rodriguez has lost the ball with a poor touch more times (52) than any other.
* Stoke City
* Stoke still win the most aerial duels per game (26.3) in the Premier League.
* Stoke are unbeaten in their last seven home games but have the worst away record in the division.
* Oussama Assaidi has the best pass completion rate in the Stoke squad (89.4%) despite being an attacking player.
* Sunderland attack down the left-hand side more than any other PL side (39%).
* Sunderland have claimed just one point from a losing position this season.
* They have picked up just four points from a possible 30 against bottom-half opposition.
* Swansea City
* Swansea have recorded the highest average possession (59.6%) and the highest average pass completion rate (86.5%) this season.
* They attack down the middle of the pitch more than any other PL side (34%).
* Wilfried Bony has made only one tackle in 16 PL appearances this season.
* Michael Dawson has 'won' more offsides (33) than any other PL player this season.
* No PL assists have been recorded by Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend, Lewis Holtby or Gylfi Sigurdsson this season.
* Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado take exactly the same number of shots per game (2.4).
* Claudio Yacob has made more tackles (73) than any other PL player this season.
* Jonas Olsson has made more clearances (196) than any other PL player this season.
* They have picked up more points against top half sides (11) than bottom-half sides (10).
* Kevin Nolan is the only PL player to have been sent off twice this season in the PL.
* Only Robert Snodgrass plays more accurate crosses per game (2.7) than Stewart Downing (2.3).
* The Hammers have claimed just one point from a losing position this season; they have thrown away a massive 14 points from winning positions.