PodcastThree stories from Lucas Leiva's appearance on 'We are Liverpool'
Lucas Leiva offered a detailed run-through of his 10-year Anfield career in the latest episode of the 'We are Liverpool' podcast.
The Brazilian was recently back on Merseyside and paid a visit to the AXA Training Centre studio for an entertaining chat with Jan Molby and Peter McDowall.
The moment that changed his Liverpool career
Lucas' time at the club was far from easy, starting with a challenging adaptation period after his arrival from Gremio in 2007.
Originally billed as an exciting attacking midfielder, it would take some time for Lucas to truly find his place in the team.
Rafael Benitez judged his qualities would be more suited to a deeper role but Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso had those spots in the team nailed down.
However, that all changed when the latter departed in the summer of 2009.
Lucas recalls: "When Xabi left, he left a gap to be filled. Of course the club signed [Alberto] Aquilani and he came injured.
"So I had that three, four months [where] I was going to have a chance to play. After two years already, I was ready. Then I think I took my chance and made the most of it. You have to take the moment and make the most of it.
"I think Xabi leaving, it also gave me [a feeling] like, 'Maybe I have an opportunity here that I can feel a bit important.' I'm not just replacing them when they can't play and then I play.
"I just felt a little bit more responsibility and then I think I was ready physically and mentally to get my place in the team."
A glaringly obvious sign of Lucas' progress arrived at the end of the 2010-11 campaign, when he was voted the club's Player of the Season.
By the time he left the Reds in 2017, he was a fan favourite with 346 appearances to his name.
'I was a stupid guy – I'm sorry for that because I realise now'
Jürgen Klopp was the last of five managers Lucas worked under at Liverpool.
The German heavily relied upon such an experienced figure to help put the club on a path to glory. But that didn't always translate to a fixed place in the starting XI for Lucas.
The player would often head up to the manager's office as a result, seeking clarification on his role.
He remembers: "The difficult moments I had and I knocked on his door, I think our relationship got even closer. Even if I was going to ask questions.
"One thing that he told me once, he said, 'Lucas, you can always come to my office but maybe I will say to you that you don't want to listen.'
"That's fine. You just want to speak to a manager and they be honest with you, and Jürgen has always been honest with me.
"After his first year, I had a chance to leave the club and I was considering [it] because I wanted to play, I wanted to have more game time.
"He didn't let me leave. He said, 'Lucas, I can't promise you're going to play but you have to stay because you can play as a centre-back, you can play midfield. You are one of the older guys. You can help me a lot. But I want to try to convince you to see that as well. It's not that only when you are playing you are important. You are important when you don't play as well.'
"It's funny because when I left and one day I was in Rome... and then I texted him. I said, 'Boss, I look back and there were a couple of moments when I was...' I can't say the words here! I was a stupid guy. I said, 'I'm sorry for that because I realise now.'
"He said, 'Don't worry, it's normal, you guys want to play and I was a player.' Our relationship is great and we still keep in touch."
His plans for the future
Lucas was forced to call an immediate halt to his playing career in March 2023 after the detection of a heart issue.
He had returned to his boyhood Gremio but the diagnosis brought a sudden end to his routine of a footballer – all he'd known day in, day out for 17 years in the professional game.
Having taken some time to process the development, Lucas now has an idea of what he'd like to do in the next stage of his life.
"I learned that you don't have to search for answers, you just have to accept and move on," the 36-year-old tells Jan and Peter. "I'm enjoying a lot of things now that I'm retired. I can be at Anfield, in other stadiums, I can travel with my wife.
"I try to look in the positive way and not search for answers because there are things that have no answers. You just have to get on with this and I didn't have any choice.
"Football is important and I love football and I don't see me out [of football]. Of course I want to take my time and prepare myself. People ask me, 'Would you be a coach, sporting director, something like this?'
"These days I see myself working a lot more with young players, trying to guide them, to help them to develop their careers. That is something that I like to do and hopefully I will be able to do [it] soon."