24th September – John Arne Riise

John Arne Riise might be a left back but it wasn’t his defending he was best known for as he had a phenomenal left foot and scored some sublime goals.

He is now currently playing in Cyprus with APOEL and at the age of 34 he is coming towards the end of his career but he does have some good memories, particularly at Liverpool where he helped them win the Champions league in 2005 in that incredible match against AC Milan. Riise also has the honour of being Norway’s most capped player and is definitely seen as a hero in his home country.

The defender started his career at Norwegian club Aalesund and after a fantastic spell he was being linked with moves away from the club. His five goals in 25 league games convinced French club Monaco to sign the full back. During the 1998-99 season he only played eight times but in the following campaign he became a regular in the side and he helped them win the Ligue 1 title. However, soon after he fell out with manager Claude Puel after saying he wanted to leave the club. Riise had been frustrated because bids had been rejected for him as Monaco wanted a higher transfer fee.

Eventually in 2001 he joined Liverpool for £4 million and made his debut against Bayern Munich in the Super Cup and scored as Liverpool won the game 3-2. He quickly became a fan favourite because of his attacking play from left back and ended his first season in England with seven Premier League goals. The next few seasons were difficult for Riise but after the appointment of Rafael Benitez he rediscovered his form and helped the club win the Champions League. In the final he had a mixed game as he set up the all important first goal for Steven Gerrard but then went on to miss his spot kick in the shootout.
Riise LFC
In his time at Liverpool he also helped them win the FA Cup which also went to penalties and Riise was brave enough to step up once more and this time he managed to score. But after this he started getting less game time and although he made it into Liverpool’s top 50 appearance makers it seemed like his time at the club was coming to an end.

On the 18th June 2008 he signed for Italian side Roma and once again quickly became a fan favourite because of his wholehearted displays and his important goals for the club. He seemed to always pop up in the games that mattered to the fans, he scored a goal against Inter in a pivotal game of the season and then followed this up against Milan with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory and then also scored a last minute header to give his team a 2-1 win over Juventus.
Riise Roma
After 99 league games and three seasons at the club he was on the move, this time joining Fulham on the 13th July 2011 and joined his brother Bjorn Helge at the club. He was a very consistent player during his three years there but he did not manage to score which was the most surprising thing about his second spell in England. His final year at the club was a disaster for everyone as they ended up getting relegated to the Championship and Riise left when his contract expired.
Riise FFC
Now at APOEL, he made his debut against Ayia Napa and set up two goals in a 3-1 away victory.

The final word can go to Martin Jol. “John Arne Riise is an experienced international left back who will bring a number of qualities to our squad and provide more options for me. He is an accomplished player defensively, who can also contribute to our attacking play.”

Advertisements

15th May – Frank De Boer

He is one of the favourites to take over at Tottenham Hotspur this summer and it is easy to see why because he has a fantastic managerial record and was a very good player.

Frank De Boer turns 44 today and could very well be a Premier League manager by his next birthday and it is easy to see why Spurs is a good choice for him. He will play attacking football and get the best out of the forward players and will also be able to get the best out of a lot of the younger players. In addition to this he has already worked with some Spurs players including Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen.

If they want to hire someone that has been successful all through his career then De Boer definitely fits this criteria. As a player he started out at Ajax with his brother Ronald and won both the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the Champions League in 1995. This shows that he knows how to approach European competitions and knows what it takes to win one. Also in his time at Ajax he won five Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cups but in January 1999 he left for Barcelona.
De Boer Ajax
At Barcelona he was managed by Louis Van Gaal, another man heavily linked with an English club this summer, and in his first season there he won the La Liga title. For the next four seasons they did not win any more trophies but De Boer was very consistent and played over 200 times for the club in all competitions before leaving for Turkish side Galatasaray, where he played 23 times and scored one goal.
De Boer Barcelona
In Januray 2004 he joined up with his brother once more at Rangers and helped the club to the UEFA Cup final which they lost. Shortly after the defeat they both left the club and finished their careers in Qatar. Frank announced his retirement in April 2006 and in 2007 he became a youth coach at Ajax.

On the 6th December 2010 Martin Jol was sacked by Ajax and De Boer became caretaker manager and in his first game he led his team to a 2-0 victory over AC Milan in the Champions League. At the end of his first season in charge they won the Eredivisie on the final day and to make it even better it was De Boer’s birthday when they clinched the title.
Ajax coach Frank de Boer  event:428
Ajax retained the title for the next two seasons meaning that De Boer had won three championships in just two and a half years. He would go on to make it four titles in a row in the season that has just finished and became the first ever manager to achieve this in the Dutch league and is the first time ever that Ajax have won four in a row. This means that as a player and a manager he has won nine Eredivisie titles which is also a record.

The final word can go to former Holland striker Patrick Kluivert. “Like Pep Guardiola as a player, you could see Frank would become a trainer. He is a winner. He wanted to win everything, even card games, he wanted to win. He is a big trainer coming, absolutely.”

23rd April – Lee Young-Pyo

Not many South Koreans have played in the Premier League but when they have they have usually been very consistent and never let their team down.

Lee Young-Pyo played over 100 times for his country and had a very good club career that led to him playing in a Champions League semi final. But it was at Anyang LG Cheetahs where he began playing and showed good form from an early age which meant he was picked for the 2002 World Cup squad. South Korea performed brilliantly in the tournament and reached the semi finals. The player himself put in some impressive performances and was linked with moves away from his homeland.

It was the former South Korea manager Guus Hiddink that brought him to Europe to play for Dutch side PSV. Lee alongside his countryman Park Ji Sung helped the club to the Eredivisie title twice and the KNVB Cup. After playing 109 times for the team he was heavily linked with moves to France and England but PSV were reluctant to let him go. In the end he was allowed to leave and he joined Tottenham Hotspur. Hiddink said on his departure. “I didn’t want him to go. But he did well from his very first working day and has made so much progress.”
Lee PSV
Lee settled into the Premier League very quickly and in his first season played nearly every game with Spurs conceding the fourth lowest in the league. Martin Jol was impressed by his signing and the pedigree he brought with him. “Lee has played at PSV for three years and was in the South Korean side which reached the semi finals of the World Cup. He has played in the Champions League – reaching the semi finals last season – and was the best left back in Holland.”

He played mostly at left back at Spurs but was moved to right back for the start of the 2006-07 season. However he lost his place after the club signed Pascal Chimbonda and he could not dislodge Benoit Assou-Ekotto from the left back spot. When he did finally win his place back he suffered a season ending knee injury against Sevilla but he did manage to recover enough to win a League Cup winners medal in the next and his final season at the club.
Lee Spurs
His next move was to the German side Borussia Dortmund where he spent one season playing 22 times and even though he signed a contract extension, he moved to Al-Hilal in 2009. He only spent two years in Saudi Arabia but he did score his first goal in five years and won the league title both years he was at the club.
Lee Vancouver
His final move was to Vancouver Whitecaps where he enjoyed a lot of personal success and was named their player of the year in 2012. Lee played his final professional game on 27th October 2013 and was given the match ball by his teammates after a very solid performance. The last word can go Martin Rennie the Whitecaps head coach. “Lee is a quality individual and leader – both on and off the pitch – that has excelled at all levels of the game.”