Rafael van der Vaart has explained why he turned down the chance to join Liverpool, then under the management of Gerard Houllier, back in 2002.
The Dutchman, who was 19 at the time and was playing for Ajax, opted to stay in the Netherlands before leaving for Hamburg before he moved on to Real Madrid, before eventually moving into the Premier League with Tottenham in 2010.
“I actually had the chance to move to the Premier League a lot earlier,” he told FourFourTwo. “When I was about 19, Gerard Houllier wanted to take me to Liverpool.
“I was flattered, of course, but at the time I wasn’t that interested in moving abroad. However, my agent said it would be a good idea to give Houllier a call.
“He explained that he had talked about me with Michael Owen, who had said he would be happy to play with me at Liverpool. It was amazing to hear that, but I was still sure I wanted to remain at Ajax.”
Instead of signing Van der Vaart, Houllier embarked on an awful summer of spending in 2002, buying Bruno Cheyrou, Salif Diao and El-Hadji Diouf.
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