Liverpool fans; do you remember your 1-1 draw against Feyenoord shortly before the start of the 2007-08 campaign?
Royston Drenthe scored for the Dutch side, but Steven Gerrard - who else? - spared Rafa Benitez’s blushes by netting a 71st-minute equaliser.
On the bench that day for Feyenoord was none other than Liverpool’s latest big-money signing, Georginio Wijnaldum.
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Aged just 16 at the time, Wijnaldum watched the action from the substitutes’ bench but couldn’t resist the opportunity to grab one of the Liverpool players’ shirts at full-time.
However, Gerrard wasn’t the star who Wijnaldum made a beeline for; it was Fernando Torres.
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Wijnaldum: I was happy to get Torres' shirt
“It was a game in Rotterdam in a tournament – the Port of Rotterdam Tournament,” Wijnaldum recalled as he spoke with Liverpoolfc.com at the team hotel in California. “I was sitting on the bench for the whole game and after the game, there were some arguments between the players but I spotted Torres standing there.
“I liked Torres because of the way he played and scored goals – he was a really good player – so I went over to him and asked if we could swap shirts. That’s the thing I remember most about that night.
“I still have the shirt because I was a big fan of his. Because the players were making trouble, I had the chance to swap my jersey with Torres and I was really happy about it.”
Wijnaldum has always liked Liverpool
Nine years later and Wijnaldum has followed in Torres’ footsteps by signing for the Merseyside outfit.
The former Newcastle United midfielder, who has cost the Reds a cool £25 million, admits his interest in the club grew after his compatriot Dirk Kurt arrived at Anfield back in 2006.
“Dirk Kuyt moved from Feyenoord to Liverpool… I know Michael Owen played for Liverpool… Bellamy, too…” Wijnaldum continued.
“Actually, in Rotterdam they love Craig Bellamy because he once said Feyenoord was a great club, so the fans there really like him. There were a few players I knew that played for Liverpool.
“Then, when I started getting older, I saw how big Liverpool was with the titles they’d won and the big players they had.
“When I was young, I didn’t know a lot about Liverpool but that was also because I was not really interested in football...”
But he didn't always love football...
Asked why he didn’t take more of an interest in the beautiful game, he added: “I was interested in other things like gymnastics. I did backflips, but it was just for fun.
“I liked to watch gymnastics at the Olympics. It was the thing I liked when I was young, so I did not really care about football – that didn’t come until a later age.
“I preferred gymnastics, but one day my grandma said it was too dangerous and she didn’t want me to do it, so I stopped and turned to football.
“Then, the older I got the more I started to love the game. Now, I’ll love football for the rest of my life.”
Will Georginio Wijnaldum be a success at Liverpool? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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