Rickie Lambert described reaching the milestone of 100 league goals for Saints as a very special moment in his career.

The striker brought up his century in Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Fulham, stroking home a low cross from Nathaniel Clyne in the second half.

It was clear from Lambert’s face after he scored just how much it had meant to him to reach the mark.

He said: “It was very special, very special. I knew what I was on, and it means a lot getting 100 goals for Southampton.

“It’s something I’m very proud of.”

Lambert had waited since Boxing Day to move from 99 to 100 league goals for Saints, and he admitted he was relieved to have scored, so that he could now move on from it.

“I wanted it out the way,” he said. “Obviously, it means a lot. It was a massive moment for me, in terms of goals for one club, and a club like Southampton as well.

“It means a lot, but I’m glad it’s out the way now, so I can concentrate on hopefully getting more.”

Since moving to St Mary’s in 2009, Lambert’s scoring rate has been quite remarkable. He has netted 111 times across all competitions, in just 221 appearances, helping the club rise from the depths of League One and into the top half of the Premier League.

Certainly, the £1m that was given to Bristol Rovers for his services has been repaid many times over.

“It has been the best four-and-a-half years of my life,” he said. “I have given everything and I will carry on giving everything I can while I am here. I have absolutely loved it.”

Lambert says he always believed he could score 100 league goals for the club, but he pointed out that there are many people who deserve thanks for helping him get there.

“When I joined, on that day, I had the belief and hunger that I could do it,” he said.

“Maybe I didn’t think I would do it so fast, rising up the leagues, which the club have done, but it’s full credit to everyone who’s been involved, and there’s a big thank you from me to everyone who’s helped me.”