Brendan Rodgers: This is why I quit Swansea for Liverpool
A TEAR rolls down Brendan Rodgers’s cheek after the final question of his final interview as Swansea City’s manager.
How would he like to remembered in these parts?
“I suppose,” he says through a creaking voice, “as someone who did their best for Swansea City.
“As someone who tried their best to retain the values of the team and the club, and as someone who represented the city as best as he could.
“But obviously, time will tell on how I am remembered.”
Rodgers was in emotional mood as he contemplated the end of a glorious era and, he hopes, the start of another fine spell in his career.
The 39-year-old always said he would leave Swansea, that eventually he wanted to go on and manage a club at the top end of the English game.
The only surprise about his move to one of the country’s elite sides is that it has come this soon.
Liverpool have made a bold move by handing their reins to a young, homegrown manager whose only previous experience of the elite came as part of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea backroom team.
Given Liverpool’s faith in him, and the fact that they made sustained attempts to secure his services, Rodgers felt it was only right to discuss the possibility of heading to Merseyside.
The Ulsterman, after all, is well aware of how few promising coaches from the United Kingdom have been given the chance to prove themselves at one of the country’s heavyweight clubs.
“For me, the only way I was going to leave Swansea was for a big club, and I mean a big club,” Rodgers adds.
“It was an extremely, extremely difficult decision because my plan was always to stay here at Swansea for a number of years.
“I have always been up front and honest. I have always said that I wouldn’t be here forever and that one day I would go, but I honestly never thought the opportunity would come round now.
“In my life and in my football, I have been very happy in Swansea.
“But when an opportunity to work at a club which is more than a club comes round, it’s a professional challenge which is too good to turn down.
“Liverpool are one of the dynasties of the game. They have won five European Cups and their status is up there with AC Milan, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.”
Rodgers leaves Swansea reluctantly, hence he did not jump at the initial chance to speak to Liverpool a couple of weeks back.
However, it soon became apparent that he was on a three-man shortlist with Roberto Martinez and Frank De Boer — and that he was at the top.
As a result, Rodgers met Liverpool’s American owners in London earlier this week and now he is looking forward to managing Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and the rest next season.
“That professional challenge is what my journey in coaching has been all about,” he continues.
“In any journey, whether you are a journalist or a football manager, you want to be the very, very best that you can.
“My journey has taken me to an area and to a people that will be in my heart for the rest of my life, so the decision to leave that behind was not easy.
“I honestly didn’t expect it to come around so quickly but, when it comes, you have a choice to make.
“The footballing choice is to go to a club that everyone knows about — it doesn’t need explaining.
“But the hardest part is having to leave a group of players and a people who have given me such a wonderful life here.”
There are those who suggest that Rodgers is leaving too soon, that he should have stayed in Wales earning his managerial spurs for another year or two.
Some say Rodgers owes Swansea for giving him a chance when he was at a low ebb following his dismissal by Reading.
He has said himself, after all, that he could not even get an interview for certain jobs in League One at that stage.
Rodgers would argue that he has repaid the faith Swansea showed in him by first delivering promotion to the Premier League and then leading his team to a mid-table top-flight finish.
He planned to be around for a while yet, to try to help Swansea establish themselves as a solid Premier League club.
Yet when the second official approach came from Liverpool last Monday, Rodgers’s head was turned.
“I have had three previous opportunities to move on but I never had to consider them for very long,” he adds.
“But when a club of Liverpool’s status comes in (you have to pay attention). I turned them down once out of respect, because I didn’t want to go into a process and disrespect anything about Swansea.
“When they come in a second time and make you their No. 1 target, then you have to think.
“We have seen over a number of years that the number of British coaches who get a chance at the big clubs is very few.
“When those opportunities come, and they may come only once, you have got to make a decision.”
Rodgers will be unveiled at an Anfield press conference today, when he begins the next chapter of a remarkable story which began when dodgy knees ended his playing career at the age of only 20.
The pressure will be on from the outset, for Liverpool are a heavyweight club with great expectations.
At Swansea, Rodgers led a minnow into battle with giants and very often came out on top.
Today he begins the task of lifting a giant who has been floored by a few too many minnows in recent times back on to its feet.
Whatever happens at Liverpool, Rodgers will always be able to look back with pride at a job well done during his two memorable years in Swansea.
He suggested some time ago that he wanted to do well enough in Wales to be able to come back in later life and walk around Mumbles, walking stick in hand and chest puffed out.
“I still hope I can do that when I’m retired,” he adds, half a smile breaking out beneath teary eyes.
“It’s always sad when you leave somewhere you love, but hopefully I have left a decent legacy here.
“Hopefully I can return. We will have to see what the reaction is.”