Former Liverpool left-back John Arne Riise has spoken out on his bad memory from a Manchester United game during his time at Anfield.
The Norwegian notably has one very good memory from the big game between these two rivals – when he scored a stunning free-kick against the Red Devils that nearly broke the net.
However, Riise has also opened up about the awful guilt he felt when he accidentally injured former United ace Alan Smith during a game.
Smith had to go to hospital after blocking a Riise shot, and it’s clear the former Liverpool man had no intention of hurting him and felt really bad about it afterwards, needing to be comforted by his team-mates.
Despite these two teams having a fierce rivalry, it’s clear that players would never wish injuries on another professional, and it’s interesting to hear Riise speaking about it now as it’s clearly a memory that’s stuck with him.
Riise, speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Liverpool v Man United, said: “The worst memory for me without a doubt in this fixture was breaking Alan Smith’s ankle. I took a free-kick and he broke his ankle by blocking it – rivals or not, you don’t want to see something like that happen to a fellow professional. Personally that’s the worst thing that I’ve experienced in that game.
“After it had happened I went over to check up on him and I could just see his foot hanging there loose. You get sick, you know. You feel horrible. He’s stretchered off and I have to keep playing in the game – a massive game for us – but as soon as the match ended and I got back in the dressing room and showered, I called him in the hospital from my car and spoke to him about what had happened. He knew it wasn’t intentional, but at the same time I just wanted to make sure he knew I was sorry so I got his number and spoke to him straight away. Fans had their say and thought there was intent there because we were rivals but for me you respect your fellow professionals, whoever they play for. It was a bad day, a bad night for me, and I’d never wish that kind of thing on anyone.”
He added: “I would text Alan from time to time to see how he was getting on and make sure he was OK and the main thing was that he got well again.
“All I can say is I’m glad social media wasn’t a thing back then. Obviously fans can overreact at times and that’s normal but thankfully I didn’t see too much of what Man United fans were saying about me because we didn’t have things like Twitter. No one can blame me for what happened; I was just doing my job and trying to have a shot and Alan was doing his job by blocking it. It was just unfortunate.
“My teammates could see after the game in the dressing room how much it affected me because I just felt really bad for the player – but they were great to make sure I was OK and the lads just told me to get hold of him and keep in touch with him throughout his injury and that’s what I did.”