Sinama-Pongolle: No regrets over Anfield spell
Atletico Madrid forward Florent Sinama-Pongolle insists it was not a mistake to join Liverpool as a youngster as it has now led to him becoming one of the top performers in the Primera Liga.
Sinama-Pongolle arrived on Merseyside from Le Havre at the age of 17 billed as one of the hottest young prospects in French football.
The move was criticised by many in France who felt he was too young to move abroad - a view which appeared to be valid after he found playing time hard to come by.
After the departure of French coach Gerard Houllier in 2004 Sinama-Pongolle was pushed even further out of the frame, leading to his move to Recreativo Huelva in 2006.
But despite the lack of first-team football he managed during five years in England, the 24-year-old maintains going abroad early on in his career was definitely the right move.
"When I left Liverpool to sign for Huelva I took a risk," Sinama-Pongolle told France Football.
"Nobody came to me, looked me in the eye and said they believed in me. Anyone who had would have been the king of hypocrites.
"I even get the impression people think I'm still that 17-year-old kid, educated at Le Havre, who made a mistake by joining Liverpool. That was seven years ago and wasn't a mistake.
"I am La Liga's second top goalscorer behind (Valencia's) David Villa. People are speaking about me every day."
Despite his good start to his Atletico career, with four goals in five games so far in La Liga, Sinama-Pongolle knows he still has a fight on his hands to keep his place.
However, he believes his time at Liverpool has again made him ready for the challenge.
"I've been in the world of football for 16 years and this situation is not the first time that this has happened to me," he told his club's website, www.clubatleticodemadrid.com.
"When I arrived at Liverpool, Michael Owen was there, the biggest player at the club back then, and so was Milan Baros.
"I landed there and I also had to fight for a spot, but that's something that doesn't scare me, as we footballers are very privileged.
"Everything that I experienced back then made me grow both as a footballer and as a person."