Ryan Babel: Benitez stopped me from being Liverpool star

Ryan Babel is keen to send out a message on Wednesday evening when his current club Ajax face Manchester City in the Champions League.

The former Liverpool player was purchased by the Reds for more than £11 million in July 2007 but was sold in January 2011 to Hoffenheim.

However, against City in midweek the forward is keen to show English fans why Liverpool were right to invest that £11m in him five years ago.

He told The Mirror: “I don’t think people in England ever saw the best of me. For a player to really be at his best you have to give him a certain confidence, but I did not feel appreciated by some people at ­Liverpool.

“Ajax have given me a chance again to prove myself and I’m happy for that,” he said. “The City game is a good platform for me to show the people who doubt Ryan Babel what I can do.”

However, in reflecting on his time at Liverpool, Babel revealed his disappointment with former Reds manager Rafael Benitez for failing to aid his progress.

“Rafa Benitez promised me a certain ­development, but very ­quickly he took away that promise and it was a totally different ­situation. I don’t think I ever really played more than three games in a row.

“But I love Liverpool, I still have a house there. I love the fans and I have great memories of my time at the club. It was a very good learning ­process for me. Now, I am mentally stronger and I know how to deal with certain situations and different people. The people at Ajax see that.

“I have made mistakes. But, at 25, it’s not too late to give my career a good twist. I still think I can fulfil my potential and live up to what people thought I would become. I still have that ­belief.”

“Moving to Liverpool was a new world for me. I had been living with my parents in Holland and all of a sudden I was living in a foreign ­country on my own.

“Football players have to grow up very fast. It’s a tough life sometimes. It depends on the ­individual, how strong they are and how they deal with certain situations.

“England is the biggest league in the world. Of course, you have Barcelona and Real Madrid but, as a league, England is in my opinion the best in the world.

“You never know what your route is going to be. I am happy at Ajax, but if you have some fantasy and imagination you like to dream of things and Liverpool still has a special place in my heart.”

The Dutch champions host the Premier League winners Manchester City on Wednesday evening.

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