Rickie Lambert admits he “lost something mentally” after he joined boyhood club Liverpool.
Lambert announced his retirement this week aged 35 due to a persistent back injury that flared up again during the summer when he was on the golf course discussing a move to Wigan with the Championship side’s manager and chairman.
The former England striker, who scored against Scotland with his first touch in international football in 2013, followed up that achievement by returning home to Merseyside to join Liverpool, the club he supported as a boy.
But Lambert feels that leaving Southampton, where he was first choice, to move to Anfield to serve as a back-up striker was the beginning of the end of his love affair with the game.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, he said: “I was getting well paid but I never started playing football for the money. And when I decided to go to Liverpool I sacrificed a regular first-team place and that was when I started to fall out of love with it. I never should have accepted being on the bench, even though Brendan Rodgers had made it clear to me I would be back-up for Luis Suarez and Danny Sturridge.
“I was never as quick or as technically good as the best players, but in my own head, when it came to actually playing, I could convince myself I was the best.
“But when I joined up with England I felt lucky to be there, and it was the same at Liverpool. And when I look back now I realise I lost something mentally as a player, by allowing that to happen.”