John Arne Riise today ended his seven-year tenure at Liverpool with a move to AS Roma.
The man with one of the best shots in EPL history, his left foot was feared from range, and justifiably so.
Very few could strike the ball like him. Who could forget his free-kick against Man Utd when he almost broke Fabien Barthez's goal? For years afterwards, the Anfield faithful sang about it, referring to it as, "that goal."
How tragic then that this faithful servant to us should best be remembered for that own goal. His own goal in the 94th minute of the Champions League semi-final which effectively signalled the end of his Liverpool career.
The shot of him lying on the floor after heading it in to his own net still brings back the pain. I feel sympathy for him far beyond that which I feel when I see John Terry's teary face in Moscow.
But I hope people don't forget that there were seven years before that, in which he was consistently one of the best left backs in the Premiership.
He made his debut against Bayern Munich, scoring on the way to his first trophy in a red shirt, a European Super Cup.
In his 300+ appearances for The Reds since then, he helped us to another European Super Cup, two Community Shields, a League Cup, an F.A Cup and a Champions League trophy.
How does he rate with other Liverpool legends? Well, I think he deserves to be up there. Not on the pedestal that the likes of Dalglish, Keegan, Fowler, Rush, Hunt and Gerrard are on, but he would certainly be in a Classic Liverpool squad (something coming up in the Greatest Ever series).
He would probably miss out on the starting spot to Alan Kennedy, but he would be in the squad.
Perhaps his best days are now behind him, but I still feel sad that Riise has gone.
He, in my view, is still a better player than Fabio Aurelio. I feel that not keeping Riise as a regular starter, especially this season, was a mistake by Benitez.
But the loss of Riise may not only affect them on the pitch, but off it as well.
From what I gather, he was a hugely popular member in the dressing room, and played pranks on other members of the team.
Morale may well have dropped a notch throughout the squad. Sure, the players will get over it, moves away from clubs are expected in football, but it will still hit them that one of their friends has left for another country.
If he had to go at all, I wish he could have done it in a way fitting to his service to the club, not by scoring a 94th minute own goal. He deserved a lot better than that.
John Arne Riise—Thank You!