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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Tom Cavilla

Winger compared to Roberto Carlos living Liverpool dream all over again after admitting he left the club too soon

Matches involving the Liverpool Legends have many benefits attached to them.

Raising money for the LFC foundation is the primary focus for those participating in such fixtures, with the games also providing an opportunity for families to attend Anfield and witness former heroes pulling on the famous Red shirt once again.

For others, Liverpool Legends being in action offers a chance for redemption. It is a scenario that applies in the case of Mark Gonzalez, who has scored in both of the previous two matches for charity against Manchester United.

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The 38-year-old made a total of 36 appearances for Liverpool having only spent the 2006/07 season at Anfield. Gonzalez was due to arrive on Merseyside in the summer of 2005 but work permit issues put paid to this plan. A deal was later struck in October of that year, with the Chilean, who was at one point compared to Roberto Carlos, then loaned to Real Sociedad for half a season as he awaited the eligibility to represent the Reds.

Opening up on his lengthy wait to play for Liverpool, Gonzalez told the ECHO: "That was very frustrating because my national team needed to be in the 70 best ranked teams in the world and it was like 75. The big fight was what I had to do. There were talking about the national team, but that’s not to do with me. I had to go on loan back to Spain for six months and that made me come back."

At the end of his first full campaign at the club, he returned to Spain to sign for Real Betis on a permanent basis. Looking back on his decision to explore a new challenge elsewhere, Gonzalez is fully aware he should have stayed put at Anfield but this reality only dawned on him after his transfer was completed.

"Unfortunately, I only stayed for a very short time and that was because we were going to have eight players in the same position. It was Bolo Zenden, Luis Garcia, John Arne Riise, Fabio Aurelio, me, Harry Kewell while Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun were coming," he explained.

"I think everyone had these ghosts in their head saying ‘Man, we are going to be eight players in the same position and I’m not going to play’. I think that was the thinking in that moment from everyone. I was very young and I said I could be in a very big team, but if I don't play there is no sense to be here.

"When I left, I saw that everyone left as well! I have always said I would have loved to have arrived at Liverpool at the age of 24 or 25. My career went so quickly that at 21-years-old, I was here. In the first season, it is about adaptation. I think it would have been better in the second year but I left so that is something that I regret very much. Today I am trying to live with the Legends games what I could have lived in my time at the club."

Gonzalez remains the only Chilean to represent Liverpool, a piece of history he is proud of. Plenty of players from other South American countries have experienced what it means to call Anfield home, with Darwin Nunez the latest individual to fall under this category.

The Uruguayan is still finding his feet after joining from Benfica, though Gonzalez is adamant the 23-year-old will soon begin to repay his hefty transfer fee.

“He has to adapt. It is always difficult to get straight into the team and the rhythm, especially at the moment when the team is not doing as well as we expected," he said. "We just have to give him time. He is a great player, he is here for a reason and will show it. Even if he does or doesn’t suit the style, he has to adapt to what the team has to do. We need to be patient. How patient? We don’t know.

"The culture of football in England is unique. When you go to a stadium to watch a game, it is a form of entertainment and something totally different that you won’t see in any other country. I come from South America and the fans are very passionate but very aggressive. I especially liked the bench in England as you’re right next to the fans, it's something amazing. The pace, the pitches, the people - the culture was very different."


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