Javier Mascherano has declared he is still a big Liverpool supporter and always will be after the way he was treated by the fans.
The midfielder joined from West Ham in 2007 – and had an immediate impact on the Reds.
Under Rafa Benitez and alongside Steven Gerrard the Argentina international established himself as a first team regular, making 132 appearances.
Mascherano was unable to win silverware with Liverpool, with the closest he got coming in the 2007 Champions League final – when he received a runners-up medal.
In 2010 he sealed a move to Barcelona where he went on to forge a trophy-laden career, winning five La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies.
Now at Estudiantes, Mascherano was asked if he still looks back fondly at this time at Liverpool. Mascherano replied stating that he dedicated his first Champions League win to the club.
“Yes, I’m a Liverpool supporter. I really mean it,” he told FourFourTwo.
“Nobody has ever treated me as well as Liverpool fans did – never. Throughout the three and a half years there, they made me feel like I was one of them; like I was at home.
“That’s why I dedicated Barca’s 2011 Champions League Final win against Manchester United to them: it was the least I could do to pay them back somehow. I knew they weren’t happy, and I wanted to share the moment with them.”
He added: “I’ll be forever grateful for the way [Rafa Benitez] helped me – without him, my career wouldn’t have been the same. When I went to Liverpool, I was still a young player with little experience, but Rafa’s concepts and philosophy shaped me into a far better player. I evolved a lot under him defensively, and my reading of the game improved a great deal too.”
Despite his fondness for the club, Mascherano forced a move to Barcelona in 2010 by refusing to play in a fixture against Manchester City.
With the Cheltenham Festival only just around the corner, we are giving you the chance to sign up to our free updates ahead of one of the biggest weeks in racing.
Racing Digest will give you daily updates around all the big stories – including tips, offers, results and much more. To sign up, simply put your email into the box below, and we’ll do the rest. You’ll also receive plenty of tips and info outside of Cheltenham too… after all, the Grand National isn’t far away either.
So get signed up, join our club and get ready for the inside scoops on the greatest week in jumps racing.
Asked if he regrets his actions, he said: “On one side I honestly do, as Liverpool fans weren’t happy with me at all and I completely understood why.
“On the other hand, the board at the time had promised me something and weren’t keeping their word.
“There was an agreement between us that if Liverpool received a decent offer for me, I’d be permitted to leave. We’d spoken about extending my contract, but it seemed like the directors didn’t care about me. In the pre-season after Rafa left, Roy Hodgson arrived.
“We had a meeting with the managing director, Christian Purslow, who told me I could go if a good offer came in. Then there was an offer on the table, but Liverpool were looking the other way.”
“I was quite angry that they weren’t keeping their word. Refusing to play at City was the way I found to show my annoyance. I’d told the club I wanted to leave for family reasons, so I was very upset to have to act the way I did. There was no other option – otherwise, Liverpool wouldn’t keep their promise.”