Prolific and powerful striker Rickie Lambert completed a fairytale full circle when he signed on the dotted line to become Liverpool's first signing of the 2014 summer transfer window on June 2.

Mere days before departing for the World Cup in Brazil with England and five of his new Anfield teammates, the 32-year-old sealed an emotional switch from Southampton to cap an incredible rise through the sport.

Born in Kirkby on February 16, 1982, Lambert was raised as a passionate Reds fan - which he remains to this day - and took the fledgling steps towards a professional career at the club's local Academy.

He was released as a 15-year-old, though - "I thought it was the end of the world. But I can tell people in the same situation now that it is not the end of the world, it should drive you on to succeed even more."

Before that success would arrive, further misfortune befell the Scouser when the second chance of a move to Blackpool ended with similar disappointment; without a club, Rickie took employment at a beetroot factory, receiving £20 per day to attach lids to jars.

Determined not to relinquish his dream, Lambert regularly travelled at distance to train with Macclesfield Town, where he would eventually gain a contract, allowing his prowess inside opposition penalty areas to begin to formulate.

While possessing the height, body strength and leap to present an obvious aerial threat, the Englishman boasts much more - not least a deftness of touch, clarity of vision and relentless thirst for firing the ball into the back of the net.

What started as a trickle of goals increased following his next switch, to Stockport County, and that record was embellished again when he became a Rochdale player. By 2006, his name was familiar to aficionados of the lower divisions and another transfer, this time to Bristol Rovers, beckoned.

In his debut campaign, Rickie contributed considerably to Rovers reaching the League Two play-off final, where he ran out at Wembley and, 90 minutes later, could celebrate promotion with his new club.

An ever-present at League One level in 2007-08, the forward struck 13 times, a tally that paled into insignificance the following season; 'Lambert' was an almost constant entry on the scoresheet, no less than 29, in fact, that year.

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Southampton certainly took notice. Keen to kick-start a renaissance that would ultimately carry the south-coast club from League One to the Barclays Premier League, the Saints parted with £1million - a bargain fee, it would turn out - to capture their man in August 2009.

His goals record ever since is slightly dizzying: 36 in all competitions during his maiden campaign at St Mary's, followed by 21 in the league a season later to help catapult his employers back into the Championship.

Having reached the highest stage of his career to date, Lambert stayed true to a tested method: scoring. His 27 efforts in the division throughout 2011-12 proved fundamental to Southampton securing a second consecutive promotion, and earned him the honour of Championship Player of the Year.

Rickie's transition to the next level again seemed effortless, as he featured in every single Premier League fixture and racked up a hugely respectable total of 15 goals, spearheading the Saints attack and linking expertly with the rapid passing and energy of the youngsters in behind him.

He was on target against Liverpool in March 2013, with pundits, fans and observers increasingly taking note of his undeniable skillset, and Roy Hodgson rewarded the striker with an England call-up five months later. Naturally, he scored, rising from the bench to claim a friendly winner past Scotland.

A haul of 13 Premier League strikes across 2013-14 maintained the remarkable upward trajectory of Lambert's career, and it was therefore little surprise when he was named among the 23 players selected to represent the Three Lions at the World Cup.

But there was to be another twist in his movie-like rags-to-riches tale - his club came calling with an invitation to join the Reds and the deal was quickly concluded, sending Rodgers' latest signing to South America with the happiest of smiles.