Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has revealed how Steven Gerrard tried to persuade him to remain at Liverpool during the summer.
Shelvey spent three years working alongside the Reds talisman, who will captain Liverpool for the 400th time at the Liberty Stadium, and was seen as being the natural long-term successor to the 33-year-old England captain.
But Shelvey opted to leave Merseyside for Swansea in search of regular game time during the summer and has made an encouraging start to life in south Wales.
He can understand why his decision may have surprised some, including Gerrard, but he has no regrets.
"I said to him (Gerrard) that I might have to go elsewhere to get football, he told me 'stay here, you'll get your chance'," said Shelvey.
"It was great to hear that from him but I felt I needed to come away.
"You probably think I'm mad because that's turning him down to stay there but I felt I had to come away to play, I'm lucky that I've found my feet at a club like Swansea."
But Shelvey admits Gerrard has always been an influence on his career.
He said: "I've always tried to emulate him as a player. He has always been my favourite player but I suppose there comes a time in your life when you can't copy him. You have got to be your own player.
"I'm not going out there every game and saying 'I've got be like Steven Gerrard'.
"I play the way I play and if that's the way he plays then brilliant because I'd be happy to have half the career he's had."
While Shelvey prepares to face his former colleagues, his manager Michael Laudrup is set to include young Spaniard Alvaro Vazquez in his squad for the first time against the Reds, having brought in the Getafe striker on loan on deadline day.
While the Spain Under-21 international is unlikely to start, Laudrup hopes the variety he brings to the Swansea attack will provide an extra dimension.
"I always thought we needed one more striker and one with different characteristics to Wilfried Bony and Michu," he said.
"We needed more depth in our squad to make runs in behind the defence and he will give us those movements that we will need.
"All the players we looked at and talked to had those characteristics because that is where I felt we were lacking.
"He had a hard season last year but I remember how well he did at Espanyol. We looked at four or five possibilities, but it came down to value for money.
"It is not that I always want to bring in Spanish players but it is that combination of the quality and the price. That is what is relevant and that is how it is."
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