Born in 1980 in Norway, John was born a gifted sportsman, with football at the forefront of his mind & started playing professional football for Aelesund in ‘94. After a single season with the senior team he made his move to Monaco in ‘98. He was a regular in the side & played as a left-back & left midfielder. He had a ferocious left foot, combined with super technique, pace, & power, but after Jean Tirana left Monaco, Riise fell out with the manager Claude Puel, after admitting he wanted to look for pastures new, which left him frozen out of the first team, much to his frustration.
After Leeds & Fulham failed to sign him the previous year, Riise then signed for Liverpool in ’01 under Gerard Houllier .On his arrival he said ””. I want to be a big star & a great football player” He adapted to the English game straight away scoring in his 2nd game in a Merseyside Derby, & achieving tremendous success during his overall debut season scoring 10 goals & helping the club win the ‘European Super cup’ & ‘Charity Shield’. His initiation into the club was right on track, not only was he a talented player but was a favourite among the fans for his hard working spirit.
LFC v Man United ‘01, Riise ran the length of pitch & unleashed a shot from outside the penalty box that reached 70 mph & went in off the crossbar, an unbelievable goal which left pundits bewildered that the bar didn’t break. It was to be the first of many memorable goals for the rampaging left-back!
Riise celebrating his wonder goal against Man United!
Riise had a natural eye for goal & as a left winger could destroy defences apart with his pace & his rocket of a left foot. In ‘03/04 season he had a bit of a lull in his form, but then enter Rafa in ‘04. Riise played in all league matches & not only did we reach the ’05 Champions League final but went on to win it. A night the whole club will never forget. The emotions were overpowering & we were all bursting with pride, That famous night in Istanbul will live with us all for ever!
But on a personal level, even though Riise had won a Champions league medal, which is what every player dreams of, he had missed a penalty in the shootout & he said,
“It was a nightmare even though we won the cup it left me demoralised”
But there was light’ After reaching the FA cup final in ’06, the game ended in a penalty shootout. Riise showing bravery stepped up & blasted the ball into the back of net. He wanted to make amends for the previous year, he said,
“as soon as the ball hit the net, I burst into tears, they were stinging my eyes”
Riise played as a left back but had a unique style to push forward, so if the ball was won in midfield Gerrard, Hamann, & Alonso and co, always knew that the flying Norwegian would be bombing up the left flank with a piece of long range military artillery on the end of his left leg.
He scored 31 goals in total for LFC but these were no ordinary goals as 17 of these could be described as volleyed, whacked, smashed, or hammered into the net which was staggering for a supposed left-back!. Riise was respected & loved by the fans especially for his hard work & dedication to the club. They had a special chant for him that went:
“Johnnnn n Arne Riiissssaahh, oooohhh, ahhh, I wanna knoowwww, how you scored that goal”
I sang that song many times in Anfield as I was lucky enough to see one of my favourite players play on many occasions. Memories are flooding back to me as I write this & emotion too! Only special players can reach the fans on this level & he was one of them for sure.
Riise left LFC in ’08 where he moved onto Roma and quickly became a favourite amonsg the fans due to his tenacity and hard working spirit. He helped Roma accomplish many important victories during his time there.
In 2011 he signed for Fulham on a 3 year deal where he played alongside his brother Bjørn who had been at the club since ‘ 09. John then signed numerous short term contracts with numerous clubs before finally hanging up his boots in ’16, saying “
his body could no longer cope, & he no longer had the motivation to carry on at such a high level”
Carragher went on to say, “he can be very proud of what he’s achieved with Liverpool FC. He’s played nearly 350 games and scored a lot of goals at a very high level for a long time now, he’s a great professional who always looked after himself and will be sorely missed by his teammates”
Internationally, John made his debut for Norway in 2000. In ’11 he reached his 100th cap for his country. He was Norway’s first choice left-back for a decade & in ’12 he reached 104 caps which equaled the most capped player in history for his country..During his international career he played alongside his brother again, clearly a super talented family. John retired from international duty in ’13 after having a very successful international career.
John not only was extremely popular among his teammates, he was a favorite among the fans. He loved playing for us & every fan had nothing but respect for him & he has been given the status of a ‘Legend’ which isn’t to be taken lightly around Anfield.. He supports every game & follows the Reds as one of our biggest fans to this day. The fans love him & we all think he would make a super Ambassador for our club in the future. I’m aware that he has started his coaching badges & have no doubt that he will become a super coach in the future. Rumor has it that he has already contacted LFC to observe the youth academy.
John Arne Riise on behalf of LFC fans, we wish you nothing but success for the future & we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you did for our club & you are still a true Red to this day supporting the team for every game. You are one of the few that interact with fans on a daily basis through social media which very few do, & it shows how respectful you are of the fans. On a personal note, whatever you are planning on sharing with us in your new book, just remember how much you are loved here. Legends are hard to come by & “You Will Never Walk Alone”