Socceroos legend Harry Kewell has opened up on his dark days at Liverpool, revealing the decision to leave his boyhood club as one of the best of his career.
Kewell joined the Reds in 2003 following an impressive eight-year stay with Leeds United, the club with which he quickly rose to prominence as one of Australia's brightest young talents.
But after producing 54 goals and eight assists as an integral part of United's stay in the Premier League, the speedy winger, blighted with injuries, failed to find form in Merseyside.
An FA Cup and UEFA Champions League triumph highlighted his five-year Liverpool spell, but Kewell, now manager of League Two side Notts County, has since revealed his love of the game during that time was far from assured.
"There was a lot of criticism aimed at me about what happened in the [2005 Champions League] final, but I’ve been to darker places than that with what I’ve been through," Kewell said in an interview with the Nottingham Post.
"You have to have thick skin in this game. But when I was leaving Liverpool managers would say ‘yeah, we’ll take you but only on pay as you play’.
"I could understand that, but if I am running down the wing and somebody kicks me on the ankle, that’s not really my fault.
"It’s just I am too quick for somebody so why should I suffer from that?
"I could understand it if it was my groins, but they were getting better and stronger because they got the right treatment.
"But it annoyed me. It was a cheap way to try to sign me. I decided to go to a warmer climate and I fell in love with the game again."
The 40-year-old rejected offers from AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Barcelona before signing for Liverpool, citing a conversation with then-manager Gerard Houllier as the clincher.
"When Liverpool came in for me, I had a great selection of clubs to choose from at the time but once I had spoken to Gerard Houllier I had my mind made up on what I wanted to do," he added.
"I had a big reputation when I signed, but when I look back at my five years at Liverpool it was tough.
"My [next] three years at Galatasaray were probably the best of my career.
"I went there on the back of a bad spell with Liverpool and I kind of needed to get out of the country.
"If you look at the time I had there, three of those years I was injured.
"Then it becomes a cycle of coming back and getting injured, so you’re not getting a natural flow of games.
"Of course it was disappointing because knew I had the ability.
"But then I did get to play in two Champions League finals, an FA Cup final, the FIFA World Club Cup and the Super Cup.
"I got to play in a lot of finals and it evened itself out."
Kewell's Notts currently sit 20th after 12 games, three points above relegation and will next face Bury on Sunday.