Lucas Leiva noted his enduring support for Liverpool, Lazio’s failed title challenge in 2020 and his best memories in Rome.
The 35-year-old Brazilian midfielder joined the Biancocelesti in the summer of 2017 from the Reds in a deal worth around €5.7 million and he quickly became a fan favourite in the Italian capital, being a consistent and professional player throughout his time in blue and white.
Speaking to The Athletic yesterday, Leiva first discussed where he’d be watching Liverpool’s Champions League match against Inter, with options including his house or that of Pepe Reina or Luis Alberto.
We’re together a lot. Liverpool is a part of my life. I still follow them a lot and now I’m a very lucky supporter because we have won a lot of titles recently.
The Brazilian midfielder looked back at the time in 2018 when the Reds traveled to Italy to face Roma in the Champions League semi-finals.
I was thinking about going but for security reasons, people advised me not to go to the stadium. I went to the hotel, met Jurgen and some of the players.
It was great to meet them and some of the staff. We had a chance to spend some time together.
As soon as you go into that family, if you then leave you still keep supporting because of the way people treat you at the club and the fans. It’s incredible.
He looked back at the decision to leave Liverpool for Lazio in the summer of 2017.
It was a big change for me, I spoke to Luis Alberto because I played with him at Liverpool. He was here and I could get a lot of information about the club, the team and the manager.
It was very positive and that helped a bit my decision to come.
So, so many highlights. That was a great start. We won against the favourites. Juventus had won so many league titles and cups.
We were the underdogs and managed to win the game. For that to be my first game was incredible. It was the best possible way to start a career at a club.
He was very young when he came to Liverpool like I was when I arrived. Probably he didn’t have the luck I had in having a manager who could maybe have been a bit more patient with him.
The quality was always there and he had to go to Spain to get more experience. Then he moved to Lazio and his first year wasn’t easy. But afterwards, he just found himself.
He could show his qualities and has been one of the best players in the league the last few years. His quality in the final third is incredible.
He also spoke highly of fellow midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
To be honest when I first came I didn’t really know him, but he has everything a top player needs to have. He’s physically very strong. In the air he’s unmarkable. But with the ball, he’s fantastic as well. He can assist and score goals.
He has a very good shot and he’s a player who is improving every year. He has all the qualities to play at the highest level. For sure, he is one of the best players I’ve played with.
It was easy for Leiva to laud star striker Ciro Immobile and his incredible work with Lazio.
I don’t remember a season that he scored fewer than 30 goals. It’s not only one season. He has been scoring a lot of goals for many seasons. For sure he’s on that list from one to ten of the best strikers in the world or top five because every year he scores.
Now he has 25 in all competitions this season. Maybe people don’t speak much about him, but here in Italy he’s probably considered the best striker in the league. Ciro is a natural finisher. That’s how I describe him.
It’s very rare he misses the target, very rare for the keeper to make a save. His numbers speak for themselves and how good he is. He’s our captain and a very important player for the club.
Finally, Leiva remembered Lazio’s Scudetto challenge in 2020, which collapsed due to the restrictions brought on by the COVID pandemic.
We had the feeling that if the league had continued we would have won that year. We had a two-month break and in the end, we couldn’t win.
That was probably the high point of my career, I could feel the fans, the club… they were so excited. Lazio had not challenged for the league in many years. I was lucky to spend those four years under Simone Inzaghi in, let’s say, our golden era.