Rickie Lambert tonight makes an emotional return to St Mary’s and has told his former club there is “no limit” to what they can achieve.

The much loved striker, whose goals fired Saints through the divisions and back to the Premier League, is a star attraction in Kelvin Davis’ testimonial game, which sees the current first team take on a side of the club’s promotion heroes.

Lambert is delighted with the progress Saints have made in the years since his departure, and thinks they can keep going.

He said: “To be honest if you look at what Leicester did then if that is not going to give the lads at Southampton and teams like West Ham the belief they can win the Premier League then nothing will.

“The top four? They’ve got to dream.

“When we got promoted our first thought was to finish in the top four and we got laughed at.

“First season we didn’t do too well, the second time we were getting a bit closer.

“As long as you keep believing and you’ve got dreams there’s no limit.”

Lambert added: “I’m very much looking forward to coming back. I was back for Saints’ game against Man City and the whole city was buzzing.

“It’s a good place to be and being back there and seeing my old teammates who I played with for years, I just can’t wait.

“It feels like the progress has continued. We progressed when I was there and the atmosphere was good but it’s gone up a level again.

“It’s the same club with the same principles which is very important but on the pitch it has gone up another level and it’s developed even further.

“It makes me very proud. I’m very proud of my five years.

“It’s the proudest period of my life and to say I helped get Southampton in the Premier League and to see what they are doing now is amazing.

“I shared that moment with a lot of people at the club and I’m glad to be spending another day and night with them.”

Tonight’s game is set to be a fond farewell to Davis after a decade and more than 300 appearances for the club, and Lambert said: “My biggest tribute is he’s the biggest influence as a player I’ve had in my life. He really taught me how to be professional.

“I was being told to sort myself out by managers but Kelvin looked at me as if to say ‘you’ve got to sort yourself out, and the way you are living is not acceptable.’ “I was scoring the goals but it wasn’t enough, and he saw I wasn’t fulfilling my potential.

“He showed me what is acceptable and not acceptable.

“That moment when I joined Southampton and I had to realise this is a proper club and a chance to get to the top, Kelvin had a big part of that as well.”

One of the highlights of this evening will be Lambert’s penalty shootout against Matt Le Tissier, and he joked: “Matt has been retired for a while but I’ve been hearing he’s still got it. It worries me to be honest.

“His achievements are second to none and he’s probably the best penalty taker that has ever lived.

“I’m always confident in my ability but if there is one player who I would say is better than me at penalties it’s Matt.”

Lambert left Saints for a dream move to hometown club Liverpool, but has since moved to West Brom.

He is enjoying life but has found it hard to get game time and admitted: “Life is very good. My family are based in Liverpool now and our house is there and the kids are in school and my family are happy.

“It’s not been a good season for me personally. I’ve found it hard to get a run and when I have I’ve found it had to score goals. It’s been frustrating for me.

“Any time in the past it’s not mattered what my form was because my confidence was there but because I’ve not hit the ground running and not scored the goals I’ve found it hard to get up to pace.

“It’s been a frustrating season so we will see what happens in the summer.”

  • Tickets for tonight's game at St Mary's, which kicks off at 7.30pm, are available from ticket office opening right up until the match priced £14 for adults, £7 for over-65s and 17-21s and £5 for under-17.

Kelvin has chosen to support the Liver and Pancreatic Cancer Research & Development Charity, who are based in Southampton.