A consistently good defender with an absolute rocket shot in his arsenal. John Arne Riise is Norway’s most capped player and this week’s Premier League hero for good reason.
John Arne Riise was born in Molde, Norway on the 24th of August 1980 and began his football career at Norwegian side Aalesund but only spent one season there before moving to French side AS Monaco. Riise made 44 appearances for Monaco and scored 4 times between 1998 and 2001 while he also picked up a Ligue 1 title in the 99/00 season before deciding to move to England.
There was a few English clubs such as Leeds United and Fulham monitoring the left back before he decided that Liverpool was the club for him. Riise moved to Anfield for £4m and made his debut for Liverpool in the Super Cup final against Bayern Munich where he also managed to score as Liverpool won 3-2. The Norwegian had an incredible first season in the Premier League as he made 38 appearances and helped Liverpool keep 18 clean sheets as they finished 2nd in the league. The left back also scored 7 times in the league (10 in all competitions) and these goals were important strikes against teams such as Arsenal, Everton, Newcastle United and a wonder goal against Manchester United.
Riise managed to score 6 times in 37 appearances in the 02/03 season but Liverpool slipped to 5th in the Premier League. His second season in England saw the Norwegian claim his first bit of silverware, with Liverpool claiming the League Cup, after a 2-0 victory of Manchester United.
Admittedly, his form form slipped a bit in the 03/04 season as he only managed to make 28 appearances but Liverpool still claimed a top four spot in the Premier League.
The 04/05 season was a rollercoaster season for Liverpool as they slipped back down to fifth in the league but seemed to thrive in cup competitions. Liverpool faced Chelsea in the League Cup final and Riise opened the scoring with a trademark strike after just 45 seconds but Liverpool went on to lose the final 3-2 after extra time.
This wasn’t Liverpool’s last shot at silverware though as they went on a fantastic run in Europe and ended up facing AC Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul. Liverpool went 3-0 behind in the first half and the game seemed to be over until Riise whipped a cross into the AC Milan box for Steven Gerrard to head home. This inspired a comeback and Liverpool went on to be victorious after an exciting penalty shoot-out.
Liverpool improved their league form in the 05/06 season as they kept 20 clean sheets and finished 3rd in the league. Riise was also a part of another historic Liverpool cup run as he scored a free kick in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea to put Liverpool into another cup final. Liverpool faced West Ham United in the final and went behind early in the game only to once again force a legendary comeback. The game couldn’t be decided in extra time and Riise stepped up to convert a penalty kick as Liverpool triumphed in another shoot out.
Riise continued to be consistent in the 06/07 season as defensively he made 121 clearances and was part of a defence that kept 19 clean sheets as Liverpool gained stability and finished 3rd in the league again. Riise’s final season at Liverpool came in the 07/08 season and he created 3 assists, 85 crosses and took 36 shots while defensively Riise made 140 clearances, 3 blocks and helped keep 12 clean sheets.
The Norwegian lost his place in the starting line up to Fabio Aurelio towards the end of the 07/08 season which signalled that he was on the way out of Anfield. Riise moved to Roma for €5m on the 18th of June 2008. The left back became a fan favourite in Rome because of his hard work and determination as he managed to make 99 appearances and score 7 times during his time in Italy.
Riise made a return to England on the 13th of July 2011 when he was reunited with his brother Bjorn Helge Riise at Fulham. The left back was a constant feature for Fulham in the 11/12 season as he made 36 appearances, 108 clearances, 4 assists, 84 crosses and helped keep 10 clean sheets as Fulham finished an impressive 9th in the league.
Their form dipped the following season though as they finished 12th in the Premier League but Riise still showed consistency with 114 clearances, 13 blocks, 2 assists and 75 crosses in 31 appearances for the London club. The Norwegian featured less in the 13/14 season as he only made 20 appearances in the league but it was a dismal season for Fulham as they were relegated to the Championship after they finished 19th in the Premier League.
Riise was released by Fulham in the summer of 2014 and he was snapped up by Apoel FC in Cyprus. The left back featured in the Champions League with Apoel FC in the 14/15 season and has so far scored 4 times in 18 appearances for his new club this season.