Craig Bellamy and Mark Gonzalez look set to be making their Liverpool debuts tomorrow when the Reds get their pre-season fixtures underway against Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground.
For Bellamy it’s a ground he’s played at before when on international duty and he’s excited at finally putting on the shirt of the team he supported as a kid: “I’ve been lucky enough to play at Wrexham a few times with Wales and I’ve always enjoyed going there. We played Canada at the Racecourse and the atmosphere was excellent, so to play for Liverpool on my debut is going to be a massive honour.”
Liverpool played their opening qualifier in defence of their Champions League title at that ground last season, playing against TNS. Bellamy says he’s always found fans in the area have been behind him: “The fans in North Wales have always been very supportive towards me so I’m very excited and I can’t wait until Saturday.”
Also excited is Mark Gonzalez. Speaking to the official LFC website, Mark said: “It’s very exciting for me. It took a long time to get a work permit but I have it now and it’s great to finally be able to say that I’m a Liverpool player. It was a long year for me waiting for to see if I could get a permit but it’s all sorted now and I’m happy to look to my future with this club.”
Mark also revealed how the first time he spoke to Rafa Benítez it came as something of a tonic: “I was out injured at the time when he first called me and it gave me a great boost to hear he was interested. It can be difficult coming back from a bad injury, but when you know a club like Liverpool wants to sign you then it makes you work harder and psychologically it gives you a huge confidence booster. Of course I wasn’t to know then that it would take another year to sort the problems out. There was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to come to Liverpool because I know all about the history and the tradition of the club.”
He was also asked just what it is that he will be bringing to a Liverpool side pushing for that nineteenth title: “Everyone knows about my pace but I think I bring a lot of qualities to the side. I like to get past players and I also enjoy scoring goals. As I said earlier though, words are easy and I need to produce on the field for the club and the fans.” He’s also enjoying life in Liverpool, he says: “I love it. From the first day everyone has made me feel really welcome. There weren’t too many players here on my first day at Melwood but I still felt at home right away. It’s an honour for me to be at this club.”
As for his chances of getting straight into the team as a first-team regular, he’s aware that he may have to make some adaptations, but he says the best way to do that is to get on the field and be involved: “I have experience of playing first team football both in Chile and in Spain but at the same time you have to realise I am only 22 years of age and I still have a lot to learn. The Premiership is very different to Spanish football so I know I need to adapt to the pace of the game here but I’m hoping that can happen very quickly. The best way to learn is to play games so hopefully I will get opportunities. I’m still in the early days of a four year contract so I have a long way to go yet.”