One of the most common questions I get from fans: » Why did you leave Liverpool»? I must admit that i should have stayed. Not because I didn’t enjoy 3 years at AS Roma, 3 years at Fulham and so far 1 year at APOEL. Wouldn’t be without those memories, but because I know I would have taken the place from Dossena. Maybe the one time I didn’t stand up for who I am and fought for it. I remember like it was yesterday when Benitez called me to his office. It was a few days after the exit of Champions League against Chelsea where I scored the famous own goal in the first leg. ! I honestly think that the own goal didn’t affect Rafas desicion. Maybe i’m wrong, but i’m 100 % sure that the own goal wasn’t the main reason. Yes, I was devastated about the own goal, I was crying at home and I didn’t talk to anyone for days. I knew I let all my teammates down and especially the fans. It seems like when these things happen in big games, people forget that own goals happens. It’s part of football. Sometimes you make a decision and it doesn’t always go as planned. I don’t need anyone to tell me i made the wrong decision, I know I did! Since we still had the second leg coming up I had to mentally prepare myself for that game.
Knocking on Rafas door was not something that scared me, I had talked to him many times like this before, but I had no clue what to expect this time. We only had 2 games left of the season. We sat down and had a nice talk about everything really. He told me they were gonna sign a new left back and that I was not gonna be first choice. Normally that doesn’t bother me because at a club like Liverpool you always face new players and hard competition. He then told me that I deserve to be first choice, but he couldn’t give me that at Liverpool. Sometimes in Football people need a change to blossom again. He said he would help me get to a big club, I said no thanks, I got my agent. We had 2 games left of the season and I was on 348 games for Liverpool, I asked him if I could please play part in last 2 games so I got to 350, he wouldn’t let me. 350 games would have given me average of 50 games a season. I left the office with a lot of respect for Rafa. The only thing I wish he did earlier was telling me how I stood within the team, and what I needed to do to remain first choice. If he as my manager told me I needed to step it up, I would have done everything in my power to do so. I was blind and didn’t see it. But i love Rafa, he gave me the best night of my life in Istanbul, he showed me a lot of confidence in my time with him. I learned so much from him. He was a great manager for me and my career. For him to be so honest with me during that conversation is something I will never forget and always respect him for. I still keep in touch with him.
I went down to dressing room feeling surprised, disappointed and empty. Some of the players came out of the shower and I met Carra, Stevie and Pepe. Carra asked me what gaffa said. I just told them I’m off. The looks on their faces told me they were surprised. Very surprised. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even shower, went straight to my car and started crying. Sat there maybe 20 min before I called my agent and told him everything. I ended the phone call with these words: I will show everybody that I can get back to my best!
I had one year left of my contract, I should have stayed and fought for my place, my reputation, for my name. Yes, I knew Dossena would be first choice for the first 3-4 months, but I know I would have taken that place back. All I needed was someone to tell me that I needed to step up. I have been thinking a lot about it after, and I can only blame myself. The last year at Liverpool I wasn’t as focused as previous years. I was to comfortable with my position in the team that I didn’t work as hard as I should have and had before. Absolutely annoys me!!!! I lost what was my strength: hard work, determination and focus. I also should have known that Dossena coming from Italy wouldn’t adapt to English Football. This went through my head: Do you wanna stay at a club knowing your manager won’t play you for 3-4 months, maybe longer? What about your reputation? I couldn’t sit on the bench or not even in the squad for so long. What about National Team? I could lose my place in the team. I saw only one outcome, I had to go. Had to much to lose. To this day I know I would have made the left back mine again.