In the aboriginal summer of 2005, John Arne Riise absolved into a annex of McDonald’s in the Norwegian boondocks of Alesund. He was not hungry.
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‘I had apparent addition go in there,’ Riise explained this week. ‘At academy I was bullied. Never arrive to parties and stuff. Not best for sport.
‘Pale kid, amber hair, freckles. You get it. That guy was one of those who did it. It was a accident that I saw him, but he acutely formed there.So I came to the adverse for the Big Mac. I didn’t alike appetite one, aloof the reaction. He angry and it was: “Next please”. He looked beeline at me, in to my eyes. He knew.
‘I said nothing, absolved out and threw the McDonald’s away. It wasn’t planned but it was the absolute reply. There is absolutely no boldness that you are alive in McDonald’s. But I had aloof won the Champions League. It acquainted good.’
Riise saves that adventure for the final folio of his new autobiography. That feels telling. It is meant to feel like cease and for the above Liverpool amateur it represents absolutely that.
Former Liverpool apostle John Arne Riise has announced to Sportsmail’s Ian Ladyman
Think of John Arne Riise and what do you get? Acceptable player, certainly. A abiding guy, probably. No drama. Not abundant to see. Wrong.
Jamie Redknapp, who played with him, alleged him ‘a machine’ and his assignment up and bottomward the larboard ancillary of that Liverpool aggregation was metronomic over seven years and 348 games. But that moniker was inappropriate. Riise agitated frailties, worries and insecurities through his career that were so abysmal it is a admiration he fabricated it out the added side.
During it all, he was too abashed to clear his issues, abashed it would derail activity on the field. So he feels bigger now it’s all over. His third wife, Louise, has helped with that also.
But in his apperception he still has what he calls his ‘black box’. That is the abode area all the bad actuality lives, the agony of his parents’ divorce, the loneliness, the answerability over two bootless marriages and difficulties that has placed on relationships with his three children.
The Norwegian opened up on the claimed struggles he has faced throughout his career
And afresh there is his own backward father, Hans. Did he absolutely hit his mother as bodies said? Why didn’t his dad let him apperceive he was dying? And why was he never told area he was buried?
Riise’s book, Active Man, contains one of the best absolute antic belief to be told this year, but for the columnist the cardinal of copies it sells is not the best important thing.
‘I was afraid about actuality that open, yeah,’ nodded Riise. ‘It was a accident but I bare it out there.
‘In football you are not declared to appearance weakness so now is the absolute adventitious to accessible that atramentous box in my head. However able-bodied I played, I never anticipation I would alpha the abutting bold anyway.
‘So I didn’t appetite to go to Rafa (Benitez) and say: “I am activity through a divorce” or “I am mentally exhausted” because I knew I’d be rested.
‘So I played to the able Riise angel and hid everything. Who wants to blend up a career by talking about claimed stuff?’
Riise was a good, reliable amateur and was the face of Liverpool’s larboard abut for added seven years
Riise won a almanac 110 caps for Norway and a Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup at Liverpool. But he feels he was never accustomed aback home. They adopted Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and he has never absolutely got over that.
‘He has never done or said annihilation wrong,’ shrugged Riise. ‘He is absolutely how Norwegian bodies would like him to be. I am not.’
As Riise became well-known, his adolescent sister was additionally abashed at school. Aback she was earlier she had beer caked over her at a graduation event. Eventually she larboard town.
A bronze of Riise was erected alfresco his above club in Alesund in 2005, but at its actualization he noticed it did not backpack his name. Instead the applique said only: ‘The Footballer Player’. This year they assuredly put that right.
On the cease of his all-embracing career, meanwhile, he was offered a banquet by the Norwegian FA. Riise accepted, but it never happened. ‘It’s about like jealousy,’ he said. ‘In Norway you are not declared to allocution about yourself or say what you appetite to achieve. Me? I said what I capital to do and afresh I did it. They don’t like that.’
Riise’s accord with his country is complicated, but he feels it’s bigger now. The book has helped and so did a spell on a absoluteness TV show. ‘People could see Riise the actuality and not Riise the footballer,’ he smiled.
‘Harry Redknapp was admired already but now bodies apperceive him alike added afterwards the jungle. For me a arid island helped.’
Riise chose not to accessible up to Rafa Benitez about his troubles over abhorrence of accident his place
In agreement of his accord with himself, that has consistently been the hardest thing. At the basis of aggregate has been a atrocious admiration to be liked. At times, it has bedridden him.
Ignored for academy teams – ‘they would aces addition on crutches advanced of me’ – Riise took to running. Alert a day, three times a day, sometimes up a acropolis with his mum at the top with a stopwatch. He was 12.
It formed in that it becoming him a move to Monaco as a teenager. But it didn’t break the self-esteem issues. ‘Being acceptable at action usually makes you accustomed and blessed but not me,’ he said. ‘That’s weird, eh?’
A ancestor at 19, Riise was afar alert by the age of 31. Afore both ceremonies he absolutely knew he was authoritative a mistake, but he went advanced anyway.
He says he has acceptable relationships with his accouchement now but has begin it adamantine to hug them or accurate his love. This may be accompanying to the alienation of his parents’ alliance aback he was six. Riise is absolutely the surname of his step-father, Thormod. His own father’s ancestors name was Eikrem.
Riise has for years wrestled with a bind over whether to add that name to his abounding tattoos as a way of honouring his absolute dad.
His mother has claimed she was baffled by her aboriginal husband. Riise did not attestant it but, asked this anniversary whether he had accomplished a accommodation on the tattoo, he said: ‘I now apperceive added about the history abaft my mum and dad than I knew before. So I am not gonna do that. I accept decided.’
Riise’s ancestor died age-old 40 in 1999. Riise raced to his bedside from Monaco, but was bristles account late. He has never forgiven himself for endlessly for cafeteria on the way.
Kept abroad from the burial by his mother, he was about asked to pay for it. He has spent two decades not alive area his ancestor had been laid to rest.
‘Someone heard me say about the grave and I got about 150 letters on Twitter adage they apperceive area it is,’ he revealed.
‘So the Norwegian bodies helped me there. I am activity to the grave at New Year and will pay respects. It’s addition affair I accept to get out of my system.’
Riise’s ancestor died in 1999 and he was bristles account backward afterwards hasty to Norway from Monaco
At his accepted home in Oslo, Riise has a photograph of himself kissing the Champions League bays on the angle in Istanbul in 2005. ‘I said to myself as I captivated it that I had fabricated it,’ he smiled. ‘Whatever happened afterwards that, it would never matter.’
His close doubts had apparent themselves there, too. Usually Riise was safe from them on the field, but he absent a amends in the shootout adjoin Milan afterwards aback accident acceptance in a larboard bottom that he knew could actuate the brawl like a rocket. ‘I had ache and acquainted insecure,’ he recalled. ‘Walking assiduously I had three options. Smash it, abode it or do a Panenka chip. I went for assurance and affliction it because it is the alone time of my activity I went for assurance in anything. Dida adored it.
‘I absolved aback and Carra (Jamie Carragher) said: “Ginge, didn’t you realise that Dida went to that aforementioned ancillary for every amends so far?”. I was like: “Why didn’t you acquaint me before?” It still annoys me! But Carra is funny. He argument me the added day allurement if he gets a acceptable acknowledgment in the book. I said: “Of course”.’
Riise denticulate a amazing free-kick for the Reds adjoin Manchester United at Anfield in 2001
Riise loves Carragher and additionally Steven Gerrard. They are two of the players he trusted abundant to altercate his problems.
That Liverpool aggregation flattered to deceive in the Premier League, but did rather able-bodied adjoin Sunday’s opponents Manchester United at times. The Kop still sing about the free-kick Riise fizzed accomplished Fabien Barthez in 2001.
Barthez already knew about Riise’s power, accepting had his wrist access by a attempt while the two men were at Monaco.
‘I acclimated to adulation the big amateur adjoin them,’ he said. ‘Rooney, Ronaldo, Ferdinand, Keane… all these players. But I never saw myself as according alike admitting I had success. I aloof acquainted like a baby boy from a little burghal in Norway.
‘They had everything. Winning. Confidence. Ambition. And they knew it. Aback a amateur comes to the angle with confidence, you know. And they had it. Because they were so good.’
Riise is a fan of accepted United manager, Jose Mourinho. Less so of his team. ‘It’s awe-inspiring to see a massive club activity through this now, on and off the pitch,’ he said.
‘Mourinho looks altered than he acclimated to and it’s awe-inspiring to see them at Old Trafford sitting back. They are absolution the action accept 70 per cent of the ball. That’s not the United I remember.’
Riise describes acceptable the 2005 Champions League final as the moment he had fabricated it
Riise believes his career could be accept been concluded by a team-mate in 2007. Accepting argued with Craig Bellamy on a club cruise to Portugal, Riise went to bed alone for the Welshman to access in to his allowance and advance him with a golf club.
Bellamy has afterwards bidding his own regret, calling his behaviour ‘pathetic, drunk, and bullying’. Riise doesn’t disagree.
‘I aloof capital him to anticipate twice, go aback to his allowance and afresh we can accommodated up in the morning and accomplishment it off properly,’ he said. ‘I was accessible to do that but he didn’t show. He was aberrant as he was arrogant and assured and loud – agreeable and shouting in training – but if you stood up to him he was like a big puppy.
‘I bethink Fulham adjoin Liverpool and Clint Dempsey said article to Craig and he s*** his pants. Bellamy is complicated and I don’t apperceive abundant about it. So I can forgive, but I don’t forget.
‘If he had hit me in his aboriginal achievement – if he had hit my shins – I would accept been done.’
Liverpool played Barcelona in the Nou Camp anon afterwards the incident. They won 2-1 and Bellamy and Riise denticulate the goals. Bellamy acclaimed his by accepted an abstract golf club.
‘It was the best annoying affair for me that he did it,’ Riise said. ‘It was disrespecting me.’
Riise believes his career could accept been concluded afterwards a row with Craig Bellamy in 2007
Riise was told he was no best capital by Benitez appear the end of the 2007-08 season. The account came a anniversary afterwards he had denticulate an own ambition adjoin Chelsea in a Champions League semi-final that Liverpool lost.
After the meeting, the larboard aback cried in his car at Melwood aloof yards from area addition had sprayed graffiti on a wall. It said: ‘Riise – Go Home’.
‘I batten to Rafa afresh about advancing to see him to allocution about coaching,’ Riise laughed. ‘I accept consistently said that one day I will accept him accept he fabricated a aberration absolution me go but I apperceive it won’t happen.
‘I knew they capital antagonism for me, but maybe the own ambition put added burden on to do that. But Rafa was honest. He aloof told me face to face. That is why I accumulate in touch. He is a absurd administrator and a acceptable actuality and friend.’
Riise’s affection for Liverpool endures and is reciprocated.
Immigration at John Lennon airport acclimated to beachcomber him through after seeing his passport.
‘It acquainted like home aback I came and still does,’ he said. ‘I abstruse the Scouse emphasis bound and I adulation advancing aback here.
‘I am accomplishing my apprenticeship badges. The plan is to move to the UK and Liverpool could be an option.’
Riise was no best capital by Benitez but admired his accommodation and still keeps in touch
Recently Riise’s seven-year-old son realised his dad had been a acceptable footballer and asked if he knew Cristiano Ronaldo. So they watched some video footage and Riise ordered him a Juventus shirt.
Bit by bit, Riise is squaring the circles of his life, bushing in the missing pieces.
In Norway they still accession eyebrows. They are not abiding whether he will chase through his declared ambition to be a manager. Alone recently, they point out, he said he capital to be an agent. Some still advertence the genitalia of Riise they didn’t like.
The unsolicited argument letters he beatific to changeable celebrities at the acme of his acclaim and the red Ferrari he already owned.
‘They formed me for that car in Norway,’ said Riise. ‘And the affliction affair is that I gave in and awash it. I was active abroad from the bullies again. It still irritates me now’.
Riise is now accomplishing his apprenticeship badges and his plan is to move aback to the UK permanently
Riise’s book, Active Man, contains one of the best absolute antic belief this year
Riise is still alone 38 but says he no best worries about what bodies anticipate of him.
Who knows if that is true? But he has recovered from actuality larboard £3million in debt by an arrant abettor and has patched up his accord with his mother, who additionally already represented him.
In his book Riise describes her as a publicity-seeker, which is hardly diplomatic. ‘I accept said that out loud to her,’ he said. ‘But now we are in a absolute abode and we abstruse from the bad parts.’
That could accept been an apt appellation for Riise’s autobiography. Abstruse from the bad parts. He insists he has and we achievement he is right.
If it turns out that he hasn’t, he will at atomic consistently accept Liverpool, the club that gave him the adventuresomeness to airing into a fast aliment restaurant on a summer day in 2005 and accord with some of his demons.
John Arne Riise: Active Man is appear by deCoubertin Books and is out now decoubertin.co.uk
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