John Arne Riise
John Arne Semundseth Riise (born September 24, 1980 in Ålesund) is a Norwegian football player who currently plays for Liverpool F.C. Riise is renowned for the shooting power and accuracy of his favoured left foot, as well as his excellent physical conditioning, most notably his outstanding stamina levels. He is the older brother of Bjorn Helge Riise.
Riise began his career in his homeland with Aalesunds F.K.. After a single season as senior player for the club, he moved abroad in 1998 and played the formative years of his professional career with French club AS Monaco. He was a regular member of the 1999-2000 Ligue 1 championship-winning Monaco side. However, the youngster fell out of favour with coach Claude Puel after admitting his desire to leave. Riise was subject of much interest from English Premiership clubs, with both Blackburn Rovers and Fulham FC trying to sign him. Leeds United were particularly keen, tabling a £4m bid in 2000, though this came to nothing as Monaco wanted £6m for him. Ironically he was then sold to Liverpool FC for £4m the following summer.
Liverpool under Houllier
Riise became Liverpool's first signing during the 2001 summer break, when he moved from Monaco in a £4 million transfer deal. He made his debut for Liverpool in the European Super Cup game against Bayern Munich on August 24, 2001, played at the Stade Louis II in Monaco. He scored a tap-in in the first half from a Michael Owen cross. Liverpool went on to win the game 3-2, after leading 3-0. Riise initially wore the number 18 shirt, but since the 2004-2005 season he has worn the number 6 shirt, vacated by German defender Markus Babbel.
In his first season with Liverpool, he scored ten goals in total - an admirable return for a player who played at left full-back on many occasions during the season. These included a brilliant solo effort in the Merseyside derby on September 15 at Goodison Park, which helped Liverpool to win the game 3-1. He also scored a twenty yard free-kick against Manchester United on 4 November 2001. The goal was so exceptional that Liverpool fans still sing a song about it in his honour, although some fans attribute this to his goal against Everton FC earlier in the season.
Riise rounded off his first season by scoring two early goals on the last day of the 2001-02 season against Ipswich Town. The goals were important as Liverpool needed to win the match to ensure a second-place finish in the Premiership. They went on to do just that with a 5-0 win.
He endured what were considered below-average seasons by most in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, but he rediscovered his form in 2004-05 following the appointment of Rafael Benítez as manager.
Liverpool under Benitez
During 2004-05, Riise's achievements include scoring a vital first goal against Charlton Athletic at Anfield, an impressive brace against West Bromwich Albion away, and the fastest goal ever in League Cup final, after just forty-five seconds, with a fantastic volley against Chelsea. Liverpool eventually lost the Final 3-2 after extra time. Riise was Liverpool's top scorer in Premiership away games in that season.
Riise played in the Champions League final against A.C. Milan on 25 May 2005 at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey. He played an important part in Liverpool's come back in the second half, having been 3-0 down in the first, by crossing the ball which was headed into the goal by Steven Gerrard, giving Liverpool some hope. The team went on to score two more goals shortly afterwards and won 3-2 on penalties, though Riise's penalty was saved by A.C. Milan's goalkeeper Dida.
The 2005–06 season was again successful for Riise, with Liverpool improving in the league and winning the FA Cup. In January Riise signed a new contract at Anfield to keep him at the club until 2009. Throughout the season Riise had many memorable moments. On February 18, 2006, in the last minute of a match against Manchester United, Liverpool were awarded a free kick and Riise duly hit it. Alan Smith, a Manchester United player, succeeded in blocking the ball, but immediately went down injured. After five minutes he was stretchered off. It was later found that Smith had broken his leg and dislocated his ankle. Once the severity of the injury became apparent Smith received a standing ovation from both home and away supporters. Smith later said, "I felt my leg go from under me as I went to block a free-kick. When I looked down, the leg was lying one way and my ankle was pointing towards Hong Kong so I knew I was in serious trouble." 
During Liverpool's victorious FA Cup run they met Chelsea in the semi-final on 22 April 2006. Riise scored Liverpool's opening goal from a free-kick. The shot went through a gap in the Chelsea defenders' wall and straight into the net. Liverpool ended up winning the match 2-1. The final on 13 May was against West Ham. The game finished 3-3 after extra time. Riise netted Liverpool's fourth penalty-kick in the shoot-out to help guide the Merseysiders to their 7th FA Cup. He was overcome with emotion after scoring as he had missed a penalty in Liverpool's Champions League Final shoot-out with AC Milan the previous year.
Riise's pre-season form for the 2006–07 season had been worrying with various mistakes costing Liverpool goals in their pre-season friendlies. However, in the season-opening Community Shield game against Chelsea, Riise was back on form, running from just outside his own box along the majority of the pitch before shooting past Carlo Cudicini to score the game's opening goal. Liverpool won the match 2-1, just as when Riise opened the scoring in the FA Cup semi-final, described above. Riise scored yet another wonderful trademark goal when he let fly from 35 yards against Tottenham Hotspur on the 23rd September 2006. His left footed piledriver flew past the despairing Paul Robinson and thundered into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. Liverpool went on to win the game 3-0.
After a poor run of form in Liverpool's away games in the autumn of 2006, Riise reacted to comments made by team-mates Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher that Liverpool could effectively write off their chances of winning the league, saying "We never give up. Cowards give up." He has become a crowd favourite, mainly for scoring bullet goals from outside the box. He is an integral member of the Liverpool FC first team and is regarded as one of the best left backs in the world.
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