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01st Apr 2017

Former teammate reveals John Arne Riise’s brilliant way of scaring opponents

He packed a wallop

Darragh Murphy

If you don’t remember the power that John Arne Riise possessed in his left foot, let us remind you that a free kick of his once resulted in an opposition player breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle.

Alan Smith landed awkwardly after courageously attempting to close down a Riise thunderbolt back in 2006 and his season was immediately finished.

There’s an argument to be made that Riise possessed the most powerful shot in football at one stage.

It’s impossible to forget the speed with which the ball left the foot of the Norwegian left back when he rifled a shot past Manchester United’s Fabien Barthez in 2001.

But it wasn’t just against the Red Devils that Riise managed unfathomable feats of walloping, it was essentially a trademark of his entire career.

And his former international teammate Brede Hangeland has a great story about how Riise would use his infamous rockets to instil fear in his opponents.

Riise was selected at left back by Hangeland for his ultimate XI this week and it was during his explanation for Riise’s place in the team that a fascinating titbit emerged about why he would so often hit the wall from free kicks.

“For left back I’m going with my old Norwegian friend John Arne Riise,” Hangeland said on Fantasy Football Club.

“Obviously he’s more famous for his Liverpool time but me and him played so many games together for Norway and he was up and down, up and down like one of those Duracell bunnies on the sidelines.

“He was nearly never in defence but what a player he was, such energy levels and the best throw-ins I’ve ever seen. Every time we had a throw-in in the opposition half, he’d come up to throw the ball and we’d have six guys our size in the box. The opponent would just go ‘oh!’

“He probably has the hardest shot I’ve seen!

“He’d go and try to hit the wall sometimes from the first free kick, just to make them scared.”

So for all of you who criticised Riise for failing to get beyond the wall on so many occasions, rest assured that there was a method to his madness.

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