Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel doesn't shy away from his hard man image.

Signed for £6.5million from Zenit St Petersburg in January, Skrtel said: "Yeah, maybe I am a hardman. If that is the way people think about me, I am not unhappy.

"Pain is part of being a footballer. If you don't like it then you are in the wrong job. When you play in the centre of defence you have to be prepared for pain. I am not in the team to make life easy for strikers. I have maybe found the perfect league for my game."

And Skrtel is grateful for his big chance in life with Liverpool.

He revealed: "Perhaps growing up where I did had something to do with my outlook. I always wanted more than I had in my hometown.

"I always wanted to leave it behind and make my way in the world. Playing football gave me a way out of my village.

"I worked hard every day, in every training session, to take my chance. Doing what I do now is a dream come true - and I got here because I have determination."