Maxi Rodriguez has revealed he told Rafa Benitez a “little lie” to ensure his move to Liverpool did not fall through in 2010, in a stroke of luck for both player and club.
Rodriguez arrived from Atletico Madrid at the start of 2010, and provided a rare shining light in a difficult period for the club.
The Argentinian scored 17 goals and laid on seven assists in 73 games for the club, including seven goals in three outings towards the end of 2010/11—with hat-tricks against Birmingham and Fulham.
Having played under Rafa, Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish across a two-and-a-half-season spell with Liverpool, Rodriguez experienced many ups and downs at Anfield.
And he embellished the truth to do so, as he explained in an Instagram Live interview with former Argentina team-mate Juan Pablo Sorin.
“Rafa told me that it was very important for everyone to speak English in the dressing room,” Rodriguez recalled of a conversation before his move.
“He asked me if I knew how to speak the language and I said ‘yes, of course, stay calm’.
“Of course, I didn’t want the negotiations to fail so I told a little lie.
“When I arrived in England, there was a press conference and Rafa told me he would speak first and then I would continue.
“That was when I grabbed him and said ‘look Rafa, I need to confess something to you. I don’t know English. The only thing I know is how to say ‘hello’.
“Rafa said ‘you’re a son of a b****’! But we were both laughing and afterwards I learned how to speak English.”
Rafa will no doubt have been relieved the move went through, though he left the club five months after Rodriguez’s arrival, with the No. 17 having scored three and assisted one in 17 games.
Rodriguez was a key squad player throughout his run with the Reds, and his departure for Newell’s Old Boys in 2012 was arguably premature, though ironically Brendan Rodgers claimed part of his reasoning for pushing for the exit was that he “didn’t speak the language.”
Seven-and-a-half years later and Rodriguez is still playing regularly for his boyhood club—having spent a season with Penarol in Uruguay in 2017/18—and often wears the captain’s armband.
Incredibly, at 39, he still runs down the wing for Newell’s, and he has scored six goals in 23 games in Superliga Argentina this term—he is their fourth-top all-time goalscorer, with 87 in 250 appearances.
That “little lie” was a desperation move as he was “crazy about English football,” and it paid off as he remains a cult figure at Liverpool.