Liverpool’s romantic signing of the England forward Rickie Lambert from Southampton has seen the 32-year-old return home to Merseyside after 17 years away.
Lambert, a fanatical Reds supporter who was released by Liverpool as a 15-year-old, has made his way back to Anfield following a career largely spent in the lower leagues – including a stint when he dropped out of football to work in a beetroot factory.
It was his move to Southampton in 2009 which really developed Lambert’s talents though, with 117 goals in 235 appearances for the Saints helping the club to back-to-back promotions, a spot in the top half of the Premier League and eventually leading to Lambert earning an England call-up last August.
Typically he scored the winner on his debut against Scotland, and after four caps and two goals he’s now been called into Roy Hodgson’s squad for the World Cup.
Lambert is by no means the only player to return ‘home’ after a long absence though, as these five examples show:
Marco Reus, who rejoined Borussia Dortmund in 2012 after six years away
Tipped by many to shine for Germany at the World Cup, Marco Reus cost Borussia Dortmund €17.1m when he moved back to the Black and Yellows in 2012, a move which wouldn’t have needed to be made had he not been released from their youth team in 2006.
Aged 17, Reus became frustrated at his last of progress with Dortmund after 10 years at the club, moving to lower league side Rot Weiss Ahlen and helping them earn promotion to the second tier.
In 2009 he left for Borussia Moenchengladbach, and after three years there he rejoined Dortmund, who he helped to the Champions League final in 2013.
Thierry Henry, who rejoined Arsenal in 2012 after four-and-a-half years away
With Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh off to the Africa Cup of Nations, Arsene Wenger needed some striking reinforcements in January 2012, and decided to turn to a club legend.
Thierry Henry, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, returned to the Gunners just a month after the club had unveiled a statue of him outside the Emirates Stadium, and typically he scored the winner on his ‘second debut’ in an FA Cup tie at home to Leeds United.
He scored three goals in seven appearances back at the club, including a last-minute winner in his final league game against Sunderland.
Cesc Fabregas, who rejoined Barcelona in 2011 after eight years away
Although reportedly on the verge of leaving ‘the club of his heart’ once more, Cesc Fabregas was all smiles when he moved back to Barcelona from Arsenal in the summer of 2011.
The stylish midfielder had swapped Catalonia for North London as a 16-year-old in 2003, but he rejoined his hometown team after eight years’ service with the Gunners, where he was club captain for the final three campaigns.
A protracted transfer saga was concluded when he moved back to the Nou Camp three years ago, but he now appears to be on the move again this summer.
Robbie Fowler, who rejoined Liverpool in 2006 after just over four years away
Rumours had been circulating around Merseyside for weeks that Robbie Fowler was set to make a return to Liverpool, although no-one really believed them. The forward, an Anfield legend, had suffered with fitness problems since leaving the Reds for Leeds and then Manchester City and he wasn’t the player he once was.
That didn’t stop Rafael Benitez bringing him back to his former club in January 2006, with Fowler adding valuable backup to a squad which went on to win the FA Cup (although he was ineligible) and then reach the Champions League final the following season.
Fowler scored 12 goals in 39 games back in a Red shirt, a total which took him up to No. 5 on the club’s all-time goalscorers’ list with 183 strikes.
Kaka, who rejoined AC Milan in 2013 after four years away
Brazilian maestro Kaka became the world’s most expensive player when he joined Real Madrid from AC Milan in 2009, only for Real to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United to break the record again weeks later.
Kaka won a La Liga title and a Copa Del Rey whilst with Real, but he never quite hit the heights that he had managed in his six years at the San Siro, where moved back to last September.
In January this year, he scored his 100th goal for Milan in a match against Atalanta.
Can Lambert help fire the Reds to the title? Check out our 2014/15 Premier League odds!