Ryan Babel has his own 10-year challenge – to show his full potential in England a decade after leaving Liverpool, where he felt let down by successive managers and coaches.
The Dutch winger, now 32, has joined the social media craze comparing self-portraits from 10 years ago to now, and Babel feels he has matured enormously from the raw kid who left Ajax for Liverpool at 21 years old. Babel spent three troubled years at Anfield before leaving for Hoffenheim in 2011 and has now joined Fulham, his seventh move in the past eight years.
As Claudio Ranieri’s side prepare to face Tottenham at Craven Cottage on Sunday, Babel wants to finally show an English audience what he can do. “I feel I’ve done so much in my career but a little part of me feels I still have unfinished business here in the Premier League,” he said.
“I wanted to develop as they (Liverpool) had promised me before I joined, to be given the guidance I needed to become a better player. That didn’t happen for a lot of different reasons and I didn’t fulfil my potential. I was young. Maybe I should have stayed one or two more years in Holland. I had been living with my parents so it was the first time living abroad and by myself. There are lot of things coming at you at the same time – different country, different culture.”
Rafael Benitez signed Babel, who also played under Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish, but he felt he never got the guidance he needed. “No, not from the coaches – you know like extra work, teaching me the English game. I came from Ajax where you play 4-3-3 and as a winger they didn’t want you to defend.