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Old 16-01-21, 03:24 PM   #4041
Irishnev
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It's so frustrating and sad that he was robbed of all that. Arguably this country's most gifted forward of the last decade. Had absolutely everything didn't he.
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Old 16-01-21, 03:41 PM   #4042
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It's so frustrating and sad that he was robbed of all that. Arguably this country's most gifted forward of the last decade. Had absolutely everything didn't he.
Still available isn't he? Maybe Sheff Utd could do a pay as you play deal.
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Old 16-01-21, 04:30 PM   #4043
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It's so frustrating and sad that he was robbed of all that. Arguably this country's most gifted forward of the last decade. Had absolutely everything didn't he.
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Old 16-01-21, 05:04 PM   #4044
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What a compilation of goals, you forget how bloody good he was, shame his body couldn't sustain it.
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Old 16-01-21, 09:55 PM   #4045
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He's only 31, he could arguably still be playing for us if he wasn't broken.
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Old 16-01-21, 10:57 PM   #4046
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Sturridge hasn't got a contract as he's on the Masked Singer....


According to my daughter at least
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Old 16-01-21, 11:16 PM   #4047
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The blob has a brummie accent

Oh and 'according to my daughter'
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Old 16-01-21, 11:22 PM   #4048
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The blob has a brummie accent

Oh and 'according to my daughter'
Also according to my wife, Blob is Lennie Henry
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Old 16-01-21, 11:35 PM   #4049
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Also according to my wife, Blob is Lennie Henry
I heard my missus say "it's Lenny Henry" too as she was watching it on the ipad
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Old 17-01-21, 12:03 AM   #4050
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Also according to my wife, Blob is Lennie Henry
Yep, we, I mean Mrs Norbs, think it's Lenny too

Called Hoddle the moment I heard him sing
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Old 17-01-21, 09:15 AM   #4051
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One of the few players to handle peak Messi
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Old 17-01-21, 10:25 AM   #4052
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https://twitter.com/lfchistory/statu...85542980214784

One of the few players to handle peak Messi
He was a great player, often forgotten about but was a big part of the 08/09 team. Played very well for madrid too for a few years after.
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Old 19-01-21, 07:57 PM   #4053
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Just saw a headline on the BBC saying

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Norway great Riise to take England interim role after Neville exit
and thought surely that's not John Arne Riise ... and it wasn't

But for a minute...
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Old 19-01-21, 08:10 PM   #4054
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Old 19-01-21, 09:48 PM   #4055
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Who’s Nora?
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Old 19-01-21, 10:08 PM   #4056
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Brendog going top of the league
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Old 20-01-21, 11:11 AM   #4057
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beautiful......
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Old 20-01-21, 11:16 AM   #4058
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Still fit. Looks a bit like a plumber in pic #1 tho.

Nora was his missus when he was at LFC, so presumably still is.
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Old 25-01-21, 01:54 PM   #4059
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Old 25-01-21, 03:51 PM   #4060
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Shit!!
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Old 25-01-21, 03:52 PM   #4061
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Old 01-02-21, 07:59 PM   #4062
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Vegard Heggem now runs a salmon fish farm

https://aunan.no/en/our-concept/
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Old 01-02-21, 08:11 PM   #4063
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Agger was probably the last Scando to make an appearance ?
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Old 02-02-21, 12:37 AM   #4064
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Agger was probably the last Scando to make an appearance ?
Yup and the last one to score for us too! An equaliser against Newcastle on the last day of the brilliant 13/14 season.
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Old 03-02-21, 06:50 PM   #4065
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Bloody hell

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Old 20-02-21, 11:16 AM   #4066
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https://theathletic.com/2145244/2020...jax-liverpool/

Anyone able to post this article?
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Old 20-02-21, 11:59 AM   #4067
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Tales about Jari Litmanen paint a picture of a quiet, slightly eccentric genius who was dogged by misfortune.

“When I think of Jari, I think of the sauna. He would go in there every day,” recalls legendary Barcelona midfielder Xavi. “He wouldn’t wear underwear but he had football boots on. I wondered about it. He said that way the boots would fit better.”

At Ajax, the players used to playfully mock Litmanen’s obsession with stretching, whether he was in the carpark or in the shower, and the amount of time he spent lying on the treatment table, which earned him the nickname “The Glass Man.”

“I remember one time he played a good game at the Arena and we were so happy he was back fit again. He said he felt great but then an hour later he stepped into his car and something went in his back,” says Ronald de Boer. “They almost had to get an ambulance to get him out.”

At Liverpool, it’s a similar story. The sight of him strapping up his ankles before each training session, the frequent spells on the sidelines and when he was fit, riling Gerard Houllier with his complaints about a lack of game time.

At Malmo, they still talk about the freak injury he suffered when sporting director Hasse Borg opened a bottle of lemonade for him and the top flew into his eye.

He signed for Fulham but never made an appearance due to heart palpitations and a thunderous clearance into the back of his head by goalkeeper Ricardo Batista in training. Roy Hodgson likened it to being hit by a missile and described him as “the most unlucky fellow I’ve come across in football.”

Litmanen, who played on past his 40th birthday in Finland’s top-flight, never saw it that way. His glass was always half full. “There are two alternatives. You can either go and make the best of everything or you can stop and feel sorry for yourself,” he told the Finnish documentary about his life directed by Arto Koskinen entitled Kuningas Litmanen, or King Litmanen.

That’s his nickname in a country where he’s royalty and a national icon. He was the boy from the working class city of Lahti who lived the dream when he won the Champions League with Ajax.

This season’s competition pits two of his former clubs against each other. Litmanen is adored in Amsterdam and revered on Merseyside, where many supporters feel that he was cast aside by Houllier far too soon.

One of the most gifted players of his generation has been in demand since the group stage draw was made but The Athletic’s interview request, like plenty of others from across Europe, was politely turned down.

The 49-year-old, who divides his time between Helsinki and Tallinn these days with his Estonian wife Ly and their two sons, has shunned the limelight since he hung up his boots in 2011.

“Jari is the best footballer Finland has ever produced and a superstar here but he’s a private person,” journalist Ari Virtanen from Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat tells The Athletic. “Publicly, he comes across as reserved but friends who have got to know him well say he’s really funny and a real student of the game. He has showed recently his somewhat peculiar sense of humour as he acted in a Finnish children’s movie playing the role of a Dutch art expert.

“For some years he’s been an advisor to the Finnish FA and been involved in the youth national teams. The general feeling here is that it’s a pity he hasn’t been more involved in football here since he finished playing. He has some coaching badges but he hasn’t made the move into full-time coaching yet like many of his former international team-mates.”

Litmanen may not be in the mood to talk but those who worked with him at Liverpool — plus the array of stars interviewed in Koskinen’s outstanding film — provide some fascinating insight into a man who achieved so much but still left a nagging sense of what might have been.

“Jari will always be an icon for Ajax football,” declared Louis van Gaal.

The Dutchman signed him from Finnish club MyPa at the age of 21 in 1992. It was Litmanen’s performance in the Finnish Cup final that convinced Ajax chief scout Ton Pronk that they should invite him to a training camp. Van Gaal wasn’t immediately won over.

He considered sending him back home after two days, but shifting him from right midfield into the No 10 role proved transformative. The deal was done. Ajax had stumbled across the perfect replacement for Dennis Bergkamp, who was on his way to Inter Milan.

“Jari had great vision. He was always free. You could always give him a pass. Not so fast but always right on time. He could also defend, Bergkamp didn’t defend. I think for Ajax it was perfect that Dennis left and Jari came,” says Van Gaal.


Bergkamp and his Ajax replacement Litmanen (nursing a broken arm) at an FA Cup final between their sides Arsenal and Liverpool (Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport)
Litmanen would always stay after training had finished, lining up 20 to 30 balls. If he missed with one shot he would start all over again. Practice made perfect.

He was crowned Holland’s Footballer of the Year in 1993 and won the Golden Boot in 1993-94 with 26 league goals. “You could see that Jari was special,” says Ronald de Boer. “He was so determined to do well. He put in so much extra work.”

Ajax collected four Eredivisie titles in the space of five seasons but the crowning glory for a team packed full of home grown talent was the Champions League triumph in 1995.

Litmanen’s display in the stunning 5-2 rout of Bayern Munich in the second leg of the semi-final when he scored twice is remembered as one of his finest.

The names roll off the tongue in Van Gaal’s 3-4-3. Edwin van der Sar in goal with Michael Reiziger, Danny Blind and Frank de Boer at the back. Frank Rijkaard sitting with Clarence Seedorf to his right, Edgar Davids to his left and Litmanen ahead of him. Marc Overmars, Ronald de Boer and Finidi George formed the front three.

Patrick Kluivert came off the bench to replace Litmanen and score the only goal of the final against AC Milan in Vienna. They went on to lift the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo and Litmanen’s immense contribution was recognised with third place in the Ballon d’Or.

“It was a machine — everyone knew what to do,” adds Ronald de Boer. “Without being arrogant, we were the best team in the world at that time.”

The bond was such that during his time at Ajax, Litmanen was inundated with cards from supporters informing him that they had named their child after him. Koskinen discovered that nearly 1,600 Dutch boys had been called Jari since he arrived in Amsterdam. Van der Sar’s sister even named her cat after him.

When Van Gaal told Litmanen that his team-mates had been mocking him for stretching in the strangest of places, he shrugged it off. He never took himself too seriously. “The coach told me the other guys were laughing at me and I told him I had no problem with it. I said the team spirit would grow strong if we had fun together,” he said.

Litmanen was the top scorer in the 1995-96 Champions League with nine goals. He netted in the final against Juventus and also converted in the shootout but this time Ajax were beaten on penalties.

Having scored 82 goals in all competitions in his first three full seasons in Holland, he managed just eight in 1996-97 as a troublesome ankle problem limited his game time. He would live to regret not undergoing surgery. It was only belatedly operated on back in Finland in 2006.

“The mid-90s was crazy,” he recalls. “There was one season when I played only four or five games without painkillers. I could tolerate the pain between matches. I wanted to numb the pain in the games so that I could concentrate on playing.”

Van Gaal, who left for Barcelona in 1997, was among those who cast doubt on his resilience. “I had the feeling that he was not mentally strong, but I can’t judge that because I can’t feel it,” he said.

However, any concerns he had didn’t stop Van Gaal from luring him away to the Nou Camp in 1999. After seven years, there was an emotional farewell at the Amsterdam Arena against RKC Waalwijk. Fittingly, he scored twice in a 2-0 win.

“I will never forget the farewell,” Litmanen said. “I couldn’t have asked for more. I want to thank you all for your tremendous support. The years spent here have been great. Now it’s time for me to move on. I will always remember Ajax and all of you.”

In Catalonia, he took a teenage Xavi under his wing. “Van Gaal told me to watch how Jari practised and how he controlled situations. His technique was an example to me. Jari was a true mate and helped me a lot,” Xavi said.

However, when it really mattered on the field Litmanen struggled to make an impression. He would make 32 appearances for Barca and score just four times. He found himself vying for playing time with Rivaldo and Luis Figo.

“When I recovered from injury I had to wait for a chance to play and then I had to get it right immediately. There was never an opportunity to get adapted to the team and tune into the game. The first season was very hard,” he recalls.


Litmanen, bottom left, in a star-studded Barcelona team (Photo: contrast / Boris Streubel/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
In the film Van Gaal is blunt about why it didn’t work out for Litmanen in Spain.

“I played with a defensive midfielder and two No 10s. There was maybe a five-metre difference from playing in the middle to playing on the right or left side, but for Jari it was difficult to adapt. That’s why he didn’t get in my squad many times. Also Spanish football is much quicker than the Dutch way of playing.”

Team-mates from that time are more sympathetic.

“The team was not functioning but it was not his fault. It was hard for the players to shine,” says Carles Puyol. Overmars recalls “a club that had no structure when Jari was a player who was used to playing in a team with a structure.”

Liverpool had tried and failed to sign Litmanen on two occasions. Roy Evans had a go in the summer of 1998 and Houllier did likewise 12 months later when Litmanen went to Barcelona. When Liverpool finally got their man in January 2001, he was a month shy of his 30th birthday.

He had supported Liverpool as a child having idolised Kenny Dalglish. With Vladimir Smicer holding the No 7 shirt and his usual No 10 taken by Michael Owen, Litmanen settled for No 37.

At his unveiling, Houllier declared: “We have signed a world class player. Jari is a fan of the club. He comes with different qualities which gives me different options. What’s good about his presence here is he’s not only a class player, but he also complements the abilities of our other strikers.”

Litmanen found himself fighting it out for game time with Owen, Emile Heskey and Robbie Fowler. There was a man of the match performance on his Premier League debut against Aston Villa as he lit up a 3-0 victory but it proved to be a false dawn.

“No club in the world had four attackers of that calibre at that time,” Jamie Carragher tells The Athletic. “When Jari arrived, I remember thinking ‘it’s going to be interesting how the manager handles this.’ It was the start of squad rotation.

“What a player though. He was the kind you loved playing with. If you gave him the ball he would inevitably do something clever with it.

“But that was a powerful, hard working Liverpool team rather than one packed with geniuses. Michael and Emile provided pace, power and goals. There wasn’t much subtlety. Jari gave us something different. When he played his class was there for all to see.

“I just stood there watching him against Villa and thought ‘wow.’ He was exceptional. I think about Palace at home in the semis of the League Cup. He was up front with Robbie that night and did really well. The problem with Jari was that he couldn’t stay fit so he never really got a proper run of games.”


Litmanen celebrates a goal for Liverpool in the Champions League but his career at the club never really took off (Photo: Martin Rickett – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Didi Hamann’s Bayern had been on the receiving end of Litmanen’s brilliance in the 1995 Champions League semi-final.

“I was so excited when Jari signed for Liverpool,” Hamann tells The Athletic. “I don’t want to say Liverpool were at a crossroads but they hadn’t achieved much as a club for a number of years. They hadn’t played in the Champions League for quite some time.

“It felt like a big statement to sign someone of his quality. I’m not sure Liverpool would have been able to attract him a few years before that. He was a very serious guy who tended to keep himself to himself. But he loved talking about football. He was so knowledgeable about the game. We already had another Finn in Sami Hyypia and they got on well.

“Jari was always one of the first ones at Melwood every day. He was always working out in the gym. He did his best to look after himself but the shame was that his body just didn’t seem to be able to handle the demands.

“He suffered from a lot of niggling injuries. I remember him taping up his ankles before every session. He was always adamant that he had to do the strapping himself.

“He wasn’t the quickest but he didn’t need to be. His great strength was his vision and ability to pick the right pass. In terms of skill and technical ability, he’s up there with the best if not the best I ever played with. In five-a-sides in training, some of the stuff he did in small spaces was just unbelievable.”

Litmanen was certainly dealt a cruel hand. During a World Cup qualifier for Finland against England at Anfield in March 2001 he landed awkwardly after a challenge with Rio Ferdinand. He was in agony but returned to the field after treatment.

“I could hardly believe it when I found out what had happened to his arm. It was broken in several places,” recalls Hyypia, a team-mate for club and country.

It meant Litmanen missed the FA Cup and UEFA Cup finals as Houllier’s side completed an unprecedented treble. He had also been absent for the League Cup final.

Early in 2001-02 he slammed home a classy 25-yard winner against Tottenham and then grabbed the only goal against Dynamo Kiev but was relegated to the bench for the trip to Newcastle.

Later in the year he scored in back-to-back games against Arsenal and Aston Villa but was dropped again for a visit to Upton Park. By then Phil Thompson was in interim charge as Houllier recovered from major heart surgery.

Litmanen says: “I remember the old motto from England ‘never change a winning team.’ But Phil knocked on the door, he said I had played well but that he couldn’t give me a starting place. When Houllier came back he gave me more minutes but I still didn’t think it was enough.

“It was strange that Houllier was so pleased when he signed me and then decided to not use me. I cannot explain it myself.”

Thompson always insisted that overlooking him was tactical rather than personal. “He prefers to play off the front man. That’s something we could do in away games but at home we preferred to play two out-and-out strikers, and that was a problem for him,” the assistant boss explained. “It was always difficult to fit him into the team the way he plays.”

Litmanen scored with an ice cool spot-kick on the night Houllier returned to the dugout for an emotion-fuelled victory against Roma at Anfield which booked the club’s passage to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

In total he made 13 starts and 19 substitute appearances for Liverpool in 2001-02. Fowler had left for Leeds but Heskey and Owen remained the favoured partnership, while Nicolas Anelka had been signed on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.


Litmanen, Owen and Stephen Wright on the Liverpool bench in 2001 (Credit: Clive Brunskill/ALLSPORT)
Houllier was riled by Litmanen’s public complaints about how his place in the pecking order made him “miserable” and the manager vowed to eradicate what he called the “cancer” of sulky players.

In the summer of 2002, Litmanen was granted a free transfer and rejoined Ajax. He had scored nine goals in 43 games. Liverpool had recruited attacking reinforcements in the form of Milan Baros and El Hadji Diouf.

“The feeling when he left was that it wasn’t really a big loss,” adds Hamann. “He was a part-time player for us really. I don’t think there was ever a time when you would describe him as one of the first names on the teamsheet.

“For someone of his calibre, he should have had a bigger part to play but the injuries caught up with him. He was never the quickest but he definitely lost half a yard.

“There are similarities with what happened with Fernando Morientes when he signed for us. Morientes always seemed to have to beat players two or three times because they kept catching up with him after he had beaten them the first time. It was a similar story with Jari.”

Steven Gerrard always felt that Liverpool failed to make the most out of bringing Litmanen on board. “He was fantastic with the young players — always supportive and trying to help,” he told the documentary.

“It was a bit of a shock how good a player he was. When I first saw him in training, his movement and skill and ability was on a different level.

“I felt as if he could have stayed a bit longer and offered a bit more. Sometimes when he was on the bench and not used it was a bit frustrating. Going forward I think we were more unpredictable with Jari in the team because he could create things out of nothing.”

The regret for Carragher is that Liverpool didn’t sign Litmanen earlier.

“We talk about No 10s but of course at Liverpool it’s all about the No 7 shirt. Kenny Dalglish and Peter Beardsley,” Carragher says. “Jari would have been absolutely perfect to wear that with his skillset. If he had come to Liverpool before he went to Barca I’m sure he would have made a bigger impression. That was the time to get him.

“He was a very quiet character. He didn’t mix a great deal with all the lads. That was just the way he was. But I wouldn’t blame him for how things panned out He did well when he played. He was a class player but by the time he came to Liverpool he was past his peak. He was one of those players who always had to be 100 per cent fit in order to play. He always seemed to be in the physio room and he always seemed to have his ankle strapped up.”

Back at Ajax, Litmanen won another league title in 2003-04. However, he played just 20 league games across two seasons. He found himself mentoring a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

“Jari played behind me and helped me a lot on the field. He gave me a lot of advice. He was a quality player. The combination was fantastic,” Ibrahimovic said.

When Litmanen’s contract with Ajax was ended by mutual consent, he was preparing for an international against Holland in Amsterdam.

When the team coach left the stadium after a training session on the eve of the game around 500 Ajax fans surrounded the bus and serenaded Litmanen with songs and firecrackers.


Litmanen was celebrated on his return to Ajax and again when he left for a second time (Photo: Michel Porro/Getty Images)
“They had Jari banners and sang Jari songs. They wanted to say farewell to a great hero. It was a fantastic moment,” says Timo Walden, Finland’s media director. “Everyone on that bus understood then how big Jari was in Holland.”

After that Litmanen led a nomadic existence. He signed for Lahti back in Finland, then Hansa Rostock, Malmo, Fulham, Lahti again and HJK Helsinki, where he finished at the age of 40. He kept on going for the love of the game rather than financial reward.

He played the last of his 137 internationals for Finland against San Marino in 2010, achieving the rare feat of representing his country in four different decades.

When his hometown club Lahti unveiled a statue of Litmanen outside their stadium, his acceptance speech included the line: “I have one wish for Reijo, the sculptor. I just hope the statue is more durable than the person it depicts.”

“The King” triggered laughter among his subjects. He has learned to cherish what he did achieve rather than dwell on what might have been.

At Ajax and Liverpool he will always be welcomed back with open arms.
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Old 20-02-21, 01:25 PM   #4068
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Old 20-02-21, 05:40 PM   #4069
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Cardiff on their way to their second big win with Wilson seemingly playing in the hole.

Looks like Elliott might be playing there today too, for Blackburn. With less success judging by the score.
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Old 28-02-21, 11:00 AM   #4070
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Old 28-02-21, 01:31 PM   #4071
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How we tapped up Pennant.

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Old 28-02-21, 03:15 PM   #4072
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Old 28-02-21, 07:04 PM   #4073
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I prefer skinny Fernando.
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Old 28-02-21, 07:17 PM   #4074
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Old 01-03-21, 05:35 PM   #4075
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Unbelievable that he was the MOTM for the 2007 CL final, destroyed Zambrotta I think.

Another one who had all the tools to be a top player but not the consistency of decision making, finishing or by all accounts, the application to have been one.
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Old 01-03-21, 10:35 PM   #4076
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Unbelievable that he was the MOTM for the 2007 CL final, destroyed Zambrotta I think.

Another one who had all the tools to be a top player but not the consistency of decision making, finishing or by all accounts, the application to have been one.
Wasn't it Kaladze or Jankulovski? Didn't think he was MOTM. He beat his man and got possession in the first half but his delivery was not good if I recall. That game was a hard watch and we should have won, still can't bring myself to rewatch it or look at highlights.

Was furious when we signed him because I thought he was shit, grew on me a bit over his time here though despite being largely average.
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Old Yesterday, 10:44 AM   #4077
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Wasn't it Kaladze or Jankulovski? Didn't think he was MOTM. He beat his man and got possession in the first half but his delivery was not good if I recall. That game was a hard watch and we should have won, still can't bring myself to rewatch it or look at highlights.

Was furious when we signed him because I thought he was shit, grew on me a bit over his time here though despite being largely average.
yes, you're right actually, Jankulovski. Pennant himself reckons it was Zambrotta but upon checking, he wasn't even at AC Milan until the following year

There are conflicting reports online, I think Inzaghi was the official MOTM, but Pennant was voted so from a Liverpool perspective...

I only remember that he played well but without Crouch in the centre, there wasn't a lot to aim for.

The only 2 other memories I have of that match is a great Stevie G opportunity that on any other day he'd have taken on his left foot and likely scored but tried to take it on his right and I think it was saved.

The other one being of Kuyt's consolation header. Mascherano nullified Kaka who at the time was arguably the best player in the world.
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