Andy Carroll required a quick Google search to learn who his Liverpool team-mates were, the striker has admitted.
It is a rumour that has followed him around for a number of years and he revealed he used his helicopter journey from Newcastle to Liverpool in January 2011 to do his homework.
At the time, his £35million switch was a club record and despite arriving at the same time as Luis Suarez, Carroll says he only knew two players – the result of not paying any attention to football.
“When I was [at Newcastle], I’d go home, mess about with my mates, play football, go out, whatever, but I’d never watch football, I never knew any players,” he told nufc.co.uk in a wide ranging interview.
“I’d come in on the Friday or wake up on the Saturday morning saying, ‘who are we playing?’ It was just completely oblivious to all the football that was going on. I would work at the training ground and knew my tactics, but until we had a meeting I didn’t know who we were playing, unless I asked someone.
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“When I was in the helicopter down to Liverpool, I was like, ‘I know Stevie G, I know [Jamie] Carragher. Who else?’ My agent at the time had to tell me, and I would get it on Google and find out the team. So that’s actually a true story. It’s bad because it’s Liverpool players, but it’s not disrespectful – I just literally didn’t watch football, so I didn’t know.”
With Fernando Torres leaving for Chelsea, the 22-year-old Carroll had huge pressure on his shoulders, but was unable to play for about a month and scored his first goal in a 3-0 win against Man City in April.
To be fair to him, he was joining a mixed bag, with established names like Gerrard, Carragher, Suarez and Glen Johnson playing with Milan Jovanović, Christian Poulsen and David N’Gog.
Speaking about the frantic deadline day dash to Anfield, he said: “It was mad. I was in the gym with Derek [Wright, the physio]. I was on the bike doing some work and it came up on Sky Sports News – £20m rejected, £25m rejected, £30m rejected. Everyone’s coming in saying, ‘what’s happening?’, and I was like, basically, ‘I’m not going anywhere, I’ve got a new contract here’.”
All of a sudden, though, he found himself flying to Liverpool, having played half a season of Premier League football with his boyhood club, scoring 11 goals in 19 games.
At Liverpool, he scored 11 times in 58 matches, including the winner against Everton in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final and in the final against Chelsea, but was sent on loan to West Ham that summer before it was made permanent in 2013.
Released by the Hammers last season, the 30-year-old made the return home to Newcastle on deadline day in the summer transfer window.
He has vowed to make the most of his second chance at his boyhood club, adding: “I’ve got no doubt that I was daft when I was here, and no doubt that I was daft for a couple of years after as well. But I met my missus, and we’ve got four kids living at home now, we’ve got animals, we’ve got responsibilities.
“There’s no more behaviour like it was, you know? I was stupid, I was young, and I was carried away with the lifestyle that I had.
“Now it’s completely different. I’m actually a dad, I’ve grown up, and got responsibilities, so… I’ve got a purpose.
“I’m more buzzing to put it on now, the shirt, than I was when I was 17. I’m so excited.”