When Rickie Lambert was unveiled yesterday as a Liverpool FC player, it felt as if something that had gone missing had returned.
The joy on the 32-year-old’s face had taken years off him. He looked like a kid at Christmas who had been given the ultimate Xbox-Play-Nintendo-Atari-Station as a present.
He had that same look of a child who believed in Santa Claus, and if there
was 32-year-old who had reason to believe that an obese white bearded man, who squeezes his ample rear down people’s chimneys so that he could gobble cookies and gulp milk, whilst leaving presents behind for the children – then Lambert is that person.
After all, Lambert was released at the age of 15 by his boyhood club
Liverpool and found himself working in a beetroot factory and playing at the bottom of the football pyramid.
Fast forward 17 years he has scored for the national team, landed a place in the world cup squad and now re-joined his beloved hometown club, having worked his way up the football pyramid.
Every time a fairy tale comes along, there’s the big bad wolf of reality that comes and blows that fairy tale away. You need not look further than Atletico v Real Madrid or Liverpool’s quest for Premier League glory this season.
But while Lambert has himself said there is no room for sentimentality in football. For those remaining working-class football fans who crave a release from the banality of their jobs, seeing a boy from a beetroot factory make his dream a reality is sentimental.