Thirty-five years ago this week, Liverpool striker Ian Rush was sitting down to an al fresco breakfast in the elegant colonnades of the Via Roma in Turin.
A smiling waitress was dutifully serving Italian pastries while a bystander, carrying his newspaper, looked on with pride.
The reason? Rush had just signed for Italian club Juventus for a British record transfer fee of £3.2 million and the local fans – the Bianconeri – were keen to welcome him to the Stadio Comunale.
Rush was not the only Liverpool player to decamp to the continent. Kevin Keegan left Merseyside for Hamburg in 1977 and Graeme Souness headed off to Genoa to play for Sampdoria in 1984.
Paul Ince played for Inter Milan from 1995 to 1996, Steve McManaman was at Real Madrid from 1999 to 2003 and Michael Owen spent a season there too in 2004.
For Rush, the leisurely breakfast on the Via Roma in July 1986 was something of a false start as his first season with Juventus saw him back on loan at Liverpool!
He finished the campaign as the First Division’s second highest scorer with 30 goals. Liverpool came second in the league behind Everton and made the final of the League Cup, losing 2-1 to Arsenal. Rush scored the Reds’ goal.
Back in Italy, Welsh international Rush struggled against the tight defences of Serie A in his first full season with Juventus, scoring eight goals in 29 matches.
His continental adventure ended in August 1988 when he returned to Liverpool for a transfer fee of £2.7 million – and was warmly welcomed back by the Anfield faithful.
Rush went on to play 245 league matches from 1988 to 1996 during his second stint at the club, scoring 90 goals. During his first spell at Liverpool, from 1980 to 1986, he made 182 league appearances notching up 109 goals.
His honours’ list included two European Cups, five league titles, three FA Cups and five League Cups. He was the Reds’ top goalscorer for no less than eight seasons.
While Rush was joining Juventus, another Liverpool star had just spent two seasons playing for Sampdoria in the Italian port city of Genoa.
Midfielder Graeme Souness had joined the club from Liverpool in 1984 for a transfer fee of £650,000. He’d played 247 league games for the Reds, scoring 38 goals, after signing from Middlesbrough in 1978.
His time at Liverpool had seen the club win five league titles, as well as thee European Cups including the famous 1984 victory over Roma in the Stadio Olimpico on the eve of his departure to Italy.
At Sampdoria, Scottish international Souness linked up with England’s Trevor Francis, winning the Coppa Italia for the first time in the club’s history with a 3-1 victory over AC Milan.
In 1986, Souness left Sampdoria to become player-manager at Glasgow Rangers after scoring eight goals in 56 league appearances for the Italian club.
Before Rush and Souness made their way to Italy, Liverpool and England forward Kevin Keegan had played 90 league matches at German club Hamburg from 1977 to 1980, scoring 32 goals.
Keegan had signed for a transfer fee of £500,000 – doubling the previous German record.
The investment proved worthwhile. With Keegan in their side, Hamburg won the Bundesliga title for the first time and reached the European Cup final in 1980. Keegan was named European Footballer of the Year in 1978 and 1979.
Former Liverpool and England player Steve McManaman enjoyed similar success when he moved from Anfield to Real Madrid in 1999, winning no less than eight trophies with the Spanish giants.
The Bootle-born midfielder made 94 league appearances for los Galacticos, scoring eight goals, before joining Manchester City in 2003.
Liverpool and England striker Michael Owen played one season at Madrid from 2004 to 2005 after signing for a transfer fee of £8 million.
He joined England team-mate David Beckham in a Madrid line-up that included Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Roberto Carlos.
Owen scored 16 goals in 45 games for Madrid, including 13 in La Liga, before returning to the UK and Newcastle United.
Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince played for Inter Milan from 1995 to 1997 before joining Liverpool for a transfer fee of more than £4 million.
England international Ince helped Inter reach the 1997 UEFA Cup final, losing on penalties to German side Schalke 04.
He then played 65 league matches for Liverpool over two seasons from 1997 to 1999, scoring 14 goals.
*Fascinating wartime images of Merseyside feature in Clive Hardy’s latest hardback book, The Home Front – Britain 1939-45.
It’s now on sale for £14.99 plus UK postage and packing. Just go to inostalgia.co.uk/shop to order or call the order hotline on 01928 503777.