West Ham United winger Stewart Downing has opened up about his time at Liverpool between 2011 and 2013, during which he lost his place in the England team and hardly featured in his preferred position under Brendan Rodgers.
The England international had a difficult time at Anfield and struggled to nail down a regular place in the starting XI after his much publicised reported £20m move from Aston Villa.
The former Liverpool winger believes that it was when Rodgers asked him to play at left-back despite him being a left-footed right-winger, that he knew it was time to move on and find pastures new.
"I think so, yes. I was out of the team (at Liverpool) so for me just to play and get back in the team was a big thing," Downing said, as quoted by the Mirror.
"At left-back it was obviously difficult, but it was a chance to get back into the team for me, so I had to go along with it. I wasn't happy playing left-back. It is not my natural position. But I knew from then it was the time for me to move."
"I was getting signals other players were coming in, and I was getting used at left-back when I was a winger. I think you know when the writing is on the wall for you under a manager or at a club," the former Aston Villa player added.
During the summer of 2013, Downing finally ended his Anfield nightmare and moved to West Ham United for a reported fee of £5m, and the Englishman was glad that he made the move as it meant he would play regularly in his preferred position.
"The West Ham move came at a good time for me and was a chance to go out and play football regularly and play under a manager who wanted me to play every week."
The 30-year-old, who came through the ranks at Middlesbrough made his debut for the England senior team in 2005 and was part of the team till 2012. He even played at the 2006 World Cup and was a regular feature in the Three Lions set up under Fabio Capello.
However, following his move to Liverpool, he only played in two matches and then his last involvement came against Norway in May 2012.
The West Ham winger has finally earned his way back into the England squad, after Roy Hodgson named him for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia and the friendly against Scotland.
But Downing admits that he had almost given up hope of playing for the Three Lions again, and believes that it was his move to the Hammers and the regular playing time that has put him on the manager's radar.
The former Liverpool man is absolutely delighted to be back in the national team and is looking forward to playing some part in the upcoming games.
"I was honest enough to think it had gone. I hadn't been picked [by England] for two and a half years, so with the younger players coming through I thought Roy would go in that direction," the England international explained.
"But getting the West Ham move came at a good time, a new challenge for me, to go play week in week out. It has helped my game and helped me get noticed again."
"But you've just got to keep playing well and hopefully knock on the door and it's been proved with getting picked again. I am over the moon to be here and I just want to play some part and get back out here," Downing concluded.