Rickie Lambert admits there were tears of joy from his family after he completed his dream move to Liverpool and 'came home'.

The Reds swooped to snap up the striker from Southampton, making him Brendan Rodgers' first signing of the summer.

It was something of a dream come true for the lifelong Liverpool fan, who thought his chance of representing his club had gone after he was released as a 15-year-old youth player.

However, after working his way up from non-league football through all four divisions, Lambert will now head to this summer's World Cup finals with England before returning to Merseyside to begin life as a Reds player.

Moments after putting pen to paper on his contract at Melwood, Lambert sat down with Liverpoolfc.com to reflect on his transfer and explain why he is still coming to terms with the events of the last few days. 

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Rickie, welcome to Liverpool Football Club. How does it feel to be a Liverpool player?

I can't believe it. I've loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago - and I haven't stopped loving it since. To be back here now having just signed at the age of 32 is hard to describe.

Did you ever think this day would come?

No. Obviously I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn't think the chance would come. It was a shock when I heard Liverpool were in for me.

How have your family reacted to the news?

I've been trying to keep it as quiet as possible and tell only my close family. My mum and dad shed a few tears when I told them, especially my mum. It's not just playing for Liverpool, it's the fact I'm coming home. I've been away for eight years. My mum and dad have loved watching me play football all of my life, even when I was a kid, so it'd been hard for them not being able to come and watch. The fact they've got their son home - and the fact he's playing for Liverpool - is unbelievable.

As a Liverpool supporter, is it possible to put into words how it felt the moment you're told your club is interested in you?

I'm not going to say the words I said to my agent when he first told me! I thought he was lying at first. I've been trying to let it sink in for a week and it still hasn't. Even now, I am finding it hard to allow it to sink it.

It will sink in eventually, though, because it's done now - you are a Liverpool player...

I know. I can't believe it. I'm so happy!

What's been your greatest moment as a Liverpool supporter?

It's easily Istanbul. I wasn't able to go, but I went to all of the home games. The Chelsea game still stands out for me. I was on holiday with my mates and we watched it [Istanbul] - it was one of the best nights of my life, without a doubt. I think every Liverpool fan would say the same.

Your football journey is well documented - it reads like a Hollywood script. How did you keep going after facing quite a lot of rejection so young?

I just love football. Football is the only thing I cared about - it is all I thought about when I was a kid. It was all I wanted to do. When people were telling me I couldn't do it, of course I wasn't going to listen to them - I was going to find somewhere else to play football. I would have been happy playing League One, League Two, Conference...wherever. I was always going to play football. Since I have been taking it seriously and believing in myself, all my dreams, wishes and what I wanted at the start have come true in the end. It's been a long time, but it's finally come true.

Because you've got that belief in yourself, does that give you confidence you'll settle in here at Liverpool?

I think I am prepared mentally now for almost anything. I've had a long career, I've experienced a lot - a lot of ups and downs - and I believe I am at a time in my life now where anything that happens, I can enjoy, get the most out of it and adapt to it. I know how big Liverpool are - and it means everything to me - but I know what is important; I know it's what I do on the pitch and the minutes I play. I know that's what matters, and that's what I'll be focused on.

Take us back to when you were at this club as a young boy and were released. How tough was that to take? I know you've said since it was the right thing at the time, but how difficult was it?

It was absolutely devastating. Absolutely devastating! I can remember at the time thinking I wasn't going to be a footballer - I'd been dropped from Liverpool and it was the end of the world for me. I was so devastated. At the time, I thought nothing was ever going to feel worse than that, but I can tell people now life goes on and you shouldn't let it hit you too much... but I never thought I'd manage to get back here!

So if you had advice for the 15-year-old you now, what would it be?

Just calm down, you are a good player and you do have a future. Just believe in yourself a little bit more.

Was there a moment you thought about taking a different path? A moment you thought about giving up on football?

There was a time, when I was getting rejected quite a lot, when I think I enrolled in college. I can't remember what the course was exactly, I think it was something to do with sports, but I did get a place at college, so I had something planned if no-one was going to take me on.

Were you accepting of having to go down that route?

No, I wasn't accepting at all. I was going everywhere trying to get a club, a contract - and I finally got it at Macclesfield.

What's been the toughest test you've faced, do you feel? Is it being that 15-year-old kid being released?

Probably my Stockport days. That really defined me as a person, and I think that's what has made me as mentally strong as I am today. It was hard for a 22-year-old to experience it, to be honest. It didn't go well - it ended very badly, and I learned a lot from it.

Working in a factory must have been pretty tough?

It was, but I believed when I was doing it that it wasn't what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life, so it didn't really bother me that much, if I'm being honest. It was just for a bit of money and I knew I was going to train with Macclesfield after the summer had finished, so I knew what was coming. I didn't have a contract, but I knew I was going to be trying to earn myself a contract at Macclesfield. It was only for a few weeks and it was okay.

Your career really has come full circle now you're back at Liverpool Football Club. What are your hopes and ambitions here?

To help push the club forward. They've had an unbelievable season and just missed out [on the title]. Whatever role Brendan has for me, I hope I can just help them push on again and hopefully clinch the title. That is everyone's dream, and that is what we've got to believe we can do.

What has Brendan told you about your role and how he sees you here at Liverpool?

He knows what the club means to me, but there isn't much sentiment in football and I don't think this move is anything to do with that. I think he sees what he can benefit from by signing me, and he knows I'll be trying my best every minute I play for this club. I'm not sure what role he has for me - he hasn't gone into great detail right now, but I will be speaking to him very shortly.

Liverpool have been praised throughout football for their style of play, particularly last season. How confident are you of fitting into the system and how will your previous experience, particularly at Southampton, help?

I did think the two teams were similar last season in the way they played. I would like to think that has helped me - and is what will help me adapt to Liverpool's style. I believe good players can play with good players. It might take a little bit of time to adapt to the players around me and get used to the games, but I am sure it won't take me long to find out what the manager wants, what the players need from me and what I can bring to the team. I just can't wait to get going.

We spoke to you ahead of the Southampton versus Liverpool game a few months back and you said you'd learnt to manage your emotions when facing Liverpool. How do you think you'll be feeling when you run out at Anfield as a Liverpool player?

It's going to be hard to keep my emotions in check the first time I pull on the Liverpool shirt - I'm not going to lie! It's going to be very emotional, not just for me but also for my family. These kind of moments are driving me on. When I get these moments, I seem to produce my best performances and I'm able to use it to my advantage - any emotions, any nerves and any excitement I have. I am hoping that will continue in my Liverpool career.

Have you dreamt about this moment? Prior to signing and then when you knew you were coming to Liverpool?

I have thought about it all my life. It was something I always thought of when I was a kid. When I knew of the interest from Liverpool, the first thought was of playing and scoring in front of the Kop and how it might be a possibility. Now that I've signed, it could become a reality. I know what I need to do, I know what matters.

You're joining a very formidable strike force in Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. At the age of 32, can you still learn from those two players?

Definitely. Every day I am learning - I'm 32, but I am more eager now to learn than I ever have been. It's never too late to learn. I've been with England for eight months and I've learned so much, as I have in my five years at Southampton. The development I've had has been unbelievable - and that is full credit to everyone at Southampton. The better the players you play with, the better you become, so I am sure it won't take me long to find out what their strengths are and what they like.

As a fan you know what this club is all about, but have you asked your England teammates? The likes of Steven Gerrard, what have you spoken to him about?

I pulled him to one side before it was announced publically and told him what was going on in my life! I thought he might want to know. He was brilliant, he was made up for me and knows what it means to me. He said that I am going to love it here. I've spoken to the players quite a bit about Liverpool, although I've tried not to batter them too much! They've got nothing but good things to say about the club and especially Brendan Rodgers.

What did you want to know about the club from Steven Gerrard?

I think I know everything about the club, but I wanted to know about Brendan. That was even before the interest from Liverpool - I wanted to know how he was. As I said, they've all had nothing but good words to say about him.

We know you're an accomplished penalty taker. Steven currently has that responsibility here at Liverpool. Will you be offering your services?

No, Stevie is the penalty taker. He's probably the best penalty taker in the Premier League, so I won't be trying to take the pens off Stevie!

It's been a remarkable 12 months for yourself in which you've achieved so much. You'll soon be adding Champions League football to the long list of accomplishments. How much are you looking forward to that?

I just can't wait to get started. I am going away with England and going to a World Cup, so that's what I'll be thinking of, but I am not going to be able to let what has happened and what is to come go out of my head. When I get back, that's when my focus turns to Liverpool, coming to pre-season, meeting the players and going from there. I want to hit the ground running, I want to start well and I believe I will.

Your next stop is Brazil and the World Cup with England. You must be so excited to play on the biggest stage for your country?

For any kid, for any player, it means everything. I know I've said I'm living a dream and it really is, it's unbelievable. To play in Brazil is hard to describe. There is a buzz about the group at the moment and there is a lot of confidence. The performance against Peru has even increased it, so we're going to Miami in a very good mood and high spirits. We're looking forward to Brazil.

What's the feeling about getting out of that group and how much confidence does the squad have about getting past that first stage?

We are confident but at the same time we know how hard our group is - it's one of the hardest ones in the World Cup! The first game is against Italy and everything is gearing towards that game. It's a massive game. It's not the be all and end all, win or lose, but we know it is important. We've got to start fast and hopefully try to win that first game. It's so hard to predict anything in a World Cup. You need everything - you need luck, refereeing decisions and everyone to click at the right time. Hopefully that will happen for us.

You'll have plenty of time with your new Liverpool teammates when you're over in Brazil. Will that help when you when you come back to Merseyside and you're around a number of the same players?

Yes, definitely. Liverpool got so much credit last season for the amount of English lads they had in the team, so it will definitely help me. It's a good way to get to know my teammates.

You can say 'we' now when talking about Liverpool, rather than 'them'...

Yeah, I know...I've probably said 'we' in the past! The Southampton fans have been brilliant. They knew what Liverpool meant to me and they know it has always been my boyhood club, the club closest to my heart. There are two clubs in my heart now - and I'll never forget what Southampton have done for me. I cannot thank them enough. I will speak to the fans and properly by putting a statement out. But I can't believe I've signed for Liverpool!

We know what Liverpool means to you...is it true about the Liver Bird tattoo?

Yes, it is! It's on my shoulder.

Finally, what's your message to the Liverpool supporters watching this?

I know they'll be happy that I am a Scouser and a Liverpudlian. I know that will mean a lot to them. But I also know what is important and I have to hit the ground running. That's what I'll be intending to do. It means everything to me, but I do believe I can help push this club forward as well.