Lucas Leiva became a cult hero in his 10-year spell as a Liverpool player, and Reds fans will love one thing he’s believed to have said during the current pre-season tour of Singapore.
The 36-year-old is among six of the club’s former players to have travelled with Jurgen Klopp’s squad to carry out ambassadorial duties as part of the itinerary.
Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo is among the journalists who’ve also flown out to the Far East to cover the tour, and he compiled a series of notables he’s witnessed in a piece for that publication.
Among those, he noted that Lucas – who finished his Reds career in 2017 and retired earlier this year – ‘was invited to the first-team’s training session on Friday evening, after which he declared it was though he had never been away’, with the reporter adding ‘Clearly, being a Red never truly leaves you’.
Lucas had to overcome criticism from some of the fan base in his first couple of years at Liverpool, but by the time he finished his decade-long spell at Anfield, his cult hero status was undisputed.
His popularity among teammates was evident at his farewell dinner, with the iconic Sir Kenny Dalglish presenting him with a Special Recognition award as an act of gratitude for his service to the club, for whom he made 346 appearances (Transfermarkt).
Even though six years have passed since the Brazilian last played for the Reds – and with just three members of the current first-team squad having played alongside him on Merseyside – his affinity for LFC is evident from his admission that it felt like he’d ‘never been away’.
Lucas may have had teammates at Anfield who caught the wider public eye more regularly (Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho all spring to mind), but Kopites everywhere will recognise his huge contribution to the club during his 10 years in red.
Doyle is right – when you’re part of Liverpool for that long, your affinity for the club is everlasting.