Interviews

John Arne Riise, one-on-one: I could live in Singapore

In an exclusive chat, former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise spoke to FourFourTwo about getting redemption for his miss in the Champions League final, his jealousy that Jermaine Pennant played in Singapore and scoring a better goal than that thunderbolt against Manchester United...

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FFT: Hi John, thanks for your time and welcome back to Singapore! Firstly are you looking forward to being part of your first Masters Asia when the Liverpool Masters take on Arsenal at the National Stadium in November?

JAR: Yes I am. I’ve read about it and seen footage of some previous games.

When we get back together, prepare and compete together, it’s all about winning.

We joke around and have fun, but when you walk into the change room, something changes. That’s just the competitive side of it.

FFT: You were in Singapore in early 2016, was that the first time you’d been here before?

JAR: Yes and it was amazing. The people here are so polite and nice and friendly, there are amazing places to visit, the weather is nice – it’s a place I could live.

You feel so relaxed.

FFT: Did you speak to any S.League clubs when you were here about potentially playing in Singapore?

Riise during a visit to Singapore last year

JAR: No. There was talk that people were going to have some talks on my behalf, but we know that people also talk a lot.

I didn’t hear anything, but if it happened I would have considered it because this is a nice place and it’s always nice to help build something.

I like to give something back to the young players, the academy players, and give them a little advice about how to become footballers.

I did it my way and maybe doing it my way can help someone else as well.

FFT: Did you see your ex-Liverpool teammate Jermaine Pennant while you were here?

JAR: No I didn’t get a chance. I was only here for a few days. 

But I’m jealous of him for playing here.

FFT: Coming from Molde, a small city in Norway, can you believe what you achieved in your career?

JAR: No chance. When I was 13 years old, I would train 21 times a week. I was a training machine.

But at the same time you never know how good other people are in other countries.

Riise was a fan favourite during his time at Anfield

I knew I had some talent, I put the hard work in, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to succeed.

My dream was to play for the national team, hopefully become a professional at any level, and I managed to do that when I joined Monaco at 17.

RIISE FACTFILE

  • Born: September 24, 1980
  • Height: 1.85m
  • Playing position: Left-back
  • Liverpool career: 2001-2008
  • Appearances: 348. Goals: 31
  • Major Honours:
  • 2005 UEFA Champions League
  • 2006 FA Cup
  • 2003 League Cup

That gave me more energy to keep working hard and reach higher levels. I never thought I’d have the career I had. Never.

FFT: Did you play further up the pitch, maybe as a striker, when you were younger?

JAR: Yes I was a striker. Up until when I went to Monaco at 17 I was a striker. I was quicker and ahead of others in my age group.

I went to Monaco and became a central midfielder, came to Liverpool as a left-back, went to India as a centre back – next I’ll be a goalkeeper [laughs].

But I was always offensive-minded and a hard worker. I knew I wasn’t the most technical player, I didn’t have the dribbling skills, but I always put in 100 per cent and every team needs that sort of player.

FFT: The club you’re most associated with is Liverpool. What are the fans like when they see you?

JAR: In Singapore and Indonesia and all these places, the fan base is unbelievable.

Klopp needs to challenge next season, according to Riise

You can’t walk around anywhere without people recognising you.

They meet you at the airport, they see you at the hotel reception, in the street, in restaurants, and people are so polite you can’t really say no to them. But if one starts asking, everyone else comes, so I’m trying to be smart about it.

At the same time, these people spend a lot of money, they buy the shirts, tickets, they go to the stadium, so the least we can do is give something back to them.

That’s another reason why I’m here as well, to give something back because of the support they’ve given me and the team.

[UP NEXT: Riise talks us through his howitzer against Manchester United]