COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Daniel Agger is delighted to be back in his native Denmark with Brondby, but after almost nine years in England he still has a soft spot for his former team Liverpool.
The 29-year-old central defender took a large pay cut to leave the Premier League side this year and rejoin the club where he made his name as a teenager.
“I felt like the last time at Liverpool I needed a change, after many, many years,” he told Reuters at Brondby stadium. “It’s just a feeling, it’s difficult to describe.
“If I could write everything myself, I would have stayed there (at Liverpool) for the whole of my contract period, but I felt it wasn’t right,” the Denmark captain said.
“And when I feel something is not right, I have to take the consequences and try and do something else.
“It was a mix of football and the feeling of my body not being able to play the physical games, but the most important thing was that I wasn’t happy going to training every day,” Agger said.
Agger’s unhappiness was partly due to the fact that his relationship with manager Brendan Rogers had deteriorated to the point where the two men were barely on speaking terms.
“Of course there were reasons. I haven’t really shared my reasons with anyone - I have them, and that’s why I did what I did, and I’m happy with that,” he added.
Agger rejected offers from a host of top English and European teams and returned to the club he left to join Liverpool in 2006 for a nominal fee.
“Liverpool and Brondby are two completely different clubs, you can’t compare the size,” he said.
“There was no chance I could take my wages with me, and that was not the most important thing for me – the most important for me was to get back playing.
“It was a big decision to leave Liverpool, it was good on one side, and a bit sad on the other side.” he added.
Though still troubled by injuries, the change in environment has done him good and five clean sheets in his last six games for Brondby prove he is back to his commanding best.
“To come back, not only to Brondby but to Copenhagen, to where I’m from, my family, my friends, it’s been a great thing, a big boost for me,” he said.
Liverpool would welcome that kind of defensive stability.
They have lost six Premier League games — the same number of defeats they suffered in the entire 2013-14 campaign when they finished as runners-up to Manchester City.
“It was a fantastic season last year and I think we were a bit unlucky not to win the league, and after that the expectations go up,” Agger said of a year in which the team won 18 of the 20 league games he appeared in.
Much has been made of the departure of striker Luis Suarez but Agger believes their stuttering start reveals an uncomfortable truth about last season’s success.
“Maybe we over-achieved last year with the squad we had, so when we start a new season the expectations would be really, really high. It’s always difficult after such a great season,” he said.
“Also in the Premier League now there’s not just one, two, three, four good teams. There’s seven, eight, nine, 10,” he said. “The other major difference from when I started is that everybody can beat everybody.”
Agger is not ruling out another move abroad before the end of his career.
“I had a great home there, my family enjoyed it, my kids enjoyed it there, they felt a big part of Liverpool,” he says.
The bonds run even deeper than that. The knuckles of his right hand are tattooed with the letters “YNWA” in homage to the anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which is synonymous with Liverpool.
“I’ve been at Liverpool for so long, I still have contact with them and I’m hoping I can go there soon,” he said.
“To be honest, I miss it.”
Editing by Ed Osmond