Rickie Lambert: 'I owe my career to Alan Pardew'

Rickie Lambert lauds Alan Pardew for the influence he had on him, asserting that he gave him the "kick" needed to forge a successful football career.

Southampton striker Rickie Lambert has expressed his gratitude to former coach Alan Pardew for providing him with the "kick" necessary to forge a successful career in football.

The 31-year-old arrived at St Mary's for £1m from Bristol Rovers under Pardew's tutelage with the Saints in 2009, before playing a pivotal role in helping the club ascend through the divisions and establish themselves in the Premier League, culminating in earning a call-up to the England set-up.

The duo are poised for a reunion this afternoon as Lambert faces his ex-manager in the visit to Newcastle United but, despite being the opposition today, the striker claims that he is forever indebted to the 52-year-old for shaping his career.

"Looking back, I was one of the unfittest professional footballers you will ever see," the forward told The Independent.

"He did do a lot for my career. He gave me the kick that I needed. I'll always be grateful for what he did.

"I learned at every step but when I came to Southampton my all-round game just improved massively."

Lambert has netted over 100 times for the club during his four-year stay in the South Coast.

Today's clash at St James's Park is scheduled to kick off at 3pm.

Adam Lallana of Southampton celebrates with team mates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Swansea City at St Mary's Stadium on October 6, 2013
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