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Former Liverpool Player Albert Riera Speaks Out

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Years after moving on from the team, former Liverpool winger Albert Riera opened up about the real cause of his rift with Rafa Benitez.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former Liverpool winger Albert Riera has spoken out about the notoriously acrimonious way that he left the club. After playing well for Rafa Benitez in the 2008-2009 season, Riera fell out of the Spaniard's favor in the next season, causing him to lose out on playing for Spain in the 2010 World Cup.

In response, Riera gave an interview where he called Benitez's man-management ability into question, a move that landed him on the transfer list.

But recently, when the player was asked about that situation which, to Liverpool fans, is largely ancient history, and he blamed the media for twisting his remarks.

"I was frustrated when I was not included in the Spain squad for the World Cup in 2010 because I hadn’t had a lot of playing time in the Premier League for like two months.

"So (journalists) put some words in my mouth saying that the person who was responsible for me not being included in the Spain squad was Rafa.

"After that I did another interview and said that I have to be my first critic. But the media was not interested anymore.

"I have a normal relationship with Rafa. I meet him from time to time like at Pepe Reina’s wedding, or some family parties. Rafa and Pepe also share the same agent. I had signed with him, too, when I was 18, but I’ve never had an agent since then because I was scared of them. I’m the one who manages my career with the help of my lawyer."

Riera eventually left the club in the summer of 2010 when new boss Roy Hodgson sent him off to Greek club Olympiakos.

"Liverpool is the best club I have played at, their history, their fans, but in Galatasaray I felt more important as a player and I won titles there," he added.

"I remember the day when Roy Hodgson came to Liverpool. He said that he wanted his team to be 90% British, so all the foreigners felt like we’d be having problems in Liverpool and I signed for Olympiakos.

"I have enjoyed playing in France, Spain, Italy Greece and Turkey. But England has the mix of everything and the rhythm of the game is amazing."

That nugget of information about Roy Hodgson's management decisions should come as no surprise to Liverpool fans who watched dumbstruck as the future England manager made some truly mind-boggling transfer decisions that summer.

While this was an incident that happened six years ago, it is interesting to see the way that a player's perception of a highly publicized event is different from the discussion of it at the time.