An ex-Liverpool midfielder has paid homage to Lucas Leiva, who was forced into early retirement with a cardiac alteration.
Allan, who failed to register a single first-team appearance for the Reds due to work permit issues, was unveiled as Flamengo’s latest signing earlier this week following a move from Atletico-MG.
The 26-year-old spent four and a half years on the club’s books between 2015 and 2020 but spent the vast majority of his time on loan at various sides across Europe and South America.
During his first press conference at his new club, Allan confirmed that his selection of the No. 21 shirt was a tribute to his former Liverpool colleague.
— MRN – Notícias do Flamengo (@MRN_CRF) July 10, 2023
Lucas’ retirement was confirmed earlier this year following his struggles with a heart condition, leading to various messages of support from old team-mates including the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez.
Allan added to the acclaim by revealing that his fellow Brazilian was the inspiration behind his new shirt number.
“The number 21 is because I have a friend who played with it, Lucas Leiva. I was very young [at Liverpool], I couldn’t even say ‘thank you’. He welcomed me a lot,” he explained in his opening press conference, as quoted by ESPN.
“This year, unfortunately, he stopped playing, not by his will. [Wearing the No. 21] is a way to repay everything he did for football. It’s a tribute to him, who was also a great defensive midfielder. I’m returning his affection.”
It is a moving way to recognise the contributions of Lucas on at off the pitch during his 10-year spell at Anfield and yet another indication of the regard in which he is held by his peers.
He eventually moved from Merseyside to Lazio in the summer of 2017 before retiring in his home country at Gremio back in March and is still extremely well-loved by everybody connected to Liverpool.