Adam Lallana has hit back at claims he showed a lack of loyalty to former club Southampton, insisting he had to join Liverpool in the summer for the sake of his career, reports the Telegraph.
Lallana came under fire from disgruntled Southampton fans following his summer switch to Anfield, with some reports suggesting the midfielder had threatened to go on strike in order to force the move through.
But the 26-year-old insists that was not the case, as he looked to set the record straight during a press conference whilst on international duty with England.
“Knowing of that interest was attractive for me with Liverpool being such an historic club,’’ Lallana explained. “The manager [Brendan Rodgers] was a big influence, and the way he played his football. Champions League football is another level, too. You want to be playing that and testing yourself. Leaving Southampton was a very, very hard decision but one I had to make.’’
Lallana also called Matt Le Tissier to seek his advice – a man who stayed at Southampton for the duration of his career, despite interest from bigger Premier League clubs.
“I did speak to Matty and asked his advice,’’ Lallana said. “He’s a great man, and a good friend of mine, someone I’ll always look up to. He texts me every now and again. He just said whatever decision I made, he’d support me.’
“It was me who made the manager [Ronald Koeman] aware, and Les Reed and Ralph [Krueger] on the board, that if there was an opportunity for me to leave and they could agree a fee, I’d like to leave.”
Lallana also denied he left the club in the lurch, and disputes the claims he had threatened to go on strike.
“That’s completely false. I didn’t say I’d never play for the club again,” he said.
“I made no secret that once I knew Liverpool’s interest, that I asked the club if they could come to an agreement and that it would be my wish to leave and join Liverpool. I’m an ambitious person.
“At the age I was at my career, and with Mauricio [Pochettino] leaving as well, it just felt the right time for me to test myself. Being Liverpool, it was a great opportunity.”
“I never ever wanted anything to get messy. I’m sad and disappointed that certain fans feel like that, but I understand why. They love Southampton. I’ll always love Southampton. I’ll always have special memories of the fans, the players and the people involved in the club.
“I have great respect for Southampton as a club. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They gave me my chance when I was young. What we achieved was special: we were in League One and ended up finishing last season with our best number of league points. Part of me felt sad it had ended, but that’s football. You move on.
“It’s great to see them doing so well this season. People were talking that they’ll find it difficult this season, but they’ve recruited well, brought in some great players and a good manager. So I’m really happy about that. They’ve moved on and are doing well. But I want to keep doing well in my career as well. People have to make decisions in life. I am sure there are lot of people who understand why I made that decision.
“When people move for big sums of money to a team that will always be challenging for silverware that comes with added pressure. I’m dealing with it and enjoying it. I hope it pushes me on a notch. Working with the players at Liverpool and playing in elite competitions is only going to improve my game.
“I could have stayed at Southampton until I retired and finished my career there. But at the age I was at, and with the opportunity I had, I couldn’t have turned it down. I would have regretted it at the end of my career if I had. I hope in time the Saints fans will remember the memories we had down there and the successes we had in such a short space of time.”