Former defender wasn’t sure if he was ‘sober’ in Liverpool debut

Former Liverpool loanee Steven Caulker had admitted that he wasn’t sure if he was “even sober” when making his debut for the club in 2016.

Caulker, a player that was on the Reds’ books for only half a season, has been transparent with his off-field struggles for a number of years after opening up about his addiction.

The centre-back has struggled with drink and gambling addictions and touched on his time at Anfield with the Under the Cosh podcast, where he admitted to “panicking” after being signed on loan.

Jurgen Klopp turned to the former Tottenham man after his centre-back ranks were depleted by injury in January 2016, although he would be used as an emergency striker in three of his four appearances.

The story in question, though, centres around how Caulker was signed by the Reds just days after a heavy night of drinking and only a day before his debut against Arsenal.

“Monday I signed, Tuesday I trained and then Wednesday was the game,” Caulker explained.

“I was sh***** myself and thought ‘I’m gonna start here’ because they had seven centre-halves out injured.

“And I was thinking ‘oh my god, I’m going to start. Am I even sober? How the f*** am I going to do this?’ I was panicking.

“That train journey up, I was panicking because I hadn’t been taking care of myself, I was a mess. I was worried.

‘I don’t know who played centre-half, I can’t remember, but [Klopp] put someone else in [Toure and Sakho].

“He said to me ‘come get warm’, but we were losing 3-2. He said ‘no, you’re coming on. I’m going to put you up front’.

“I was like, ‘what’. I didn’t get time to ask him and we ended up getting the equaliser and after the game he just came over high-fiving me [and saying] that ‘they all think you’re crazy until it works’.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 13, 2016: Liverpool's new signing Steven Caulker in action against Arsenal during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It’s true. I was just sat there in the changing room for ages thinking what has just happened. My dad was there to see it as well, a beautiful moment and that’s special. No one can take that from you.”

After his first minutes as a forward against the Gunners at Anfield, Caulker would make only a further three – one was from the start – appearances, totalling only 92 minutes.

He knew “it was a chance of a lifetime” and so “things did change for two months” in regard to his off-field habits, but he quickly felt he had been “written off” by Klopp after moving to the under-23s, as they were at the time.

By his own admission, he was then “straight back to the drinking and gambling” which led to his second stint in rehab.

Caulker did not play for two years after leaving Liverpool and after spells with Dundee, Turkey’s Alanyaspor, Fenerbahce, Gaziantep and Fatih Karagumruk, he is now back in England with Wigan.