Chennai: Reigning Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC has signed Norwegian defender John Arne Riise as their marquee player for the upcoming edition of the tournament.
The Liverpool legend had a spell at Delhi Dynamos in ISL 2015 and inspired them to the ISL semis, making 15 appearances and scoring one goal. After that spell in last year’s ISL, Riise had a short stint at Norwegian club Aalesunds FK earlier this year. He made 10 appearances there between March and May and now joins Chennaiyin on a free transfer.
35-year-old Riise started his career at Aalesunds two decades ago and earned his first move abroad in 1998 when he signed for French club Monaco. Riise won the French league with Monaco during a three year stint and moved to Liverpool in 2001. He spent seven years at the Merseyside club and became an icon there, winning several major trophies including the UEFA Champions League in 2005.
At Liverpool, he built up a reputation of scoring from long range and freekicks. He also netted 16 goals at international level. After leaving Liverpool in 2008, Riise had spells in Italy’s Roma, Fulham in England and APOEL FC in the Cyprus top division. He is Norway’s most capped player at international level with 110 appearances.
“We are delighted to have signed John as our marquee player for the 2016 ISL. He is a player with exceptional quality and experience. We look forward to having a great season from him,” Chennaiyin FC co-owner Vita Dani said in a statement.
“John has had a fantastic career already and was very consistent in last year’s ISL. He will be a very important player for us both on and off the pitch,” said Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materazzi.
Riise added: “Back in June I decided to take a break from football but I always kept the door open for a return and after speaking to Marco I found the motivation again to work hard. So I would like to thank Marco and the Chennaiyin FC owners for believing in me.
“Marco especially had a big influence in my decision. I am honoured to have the chance to play and work under Marco.
Working closely with him will be a great experience for me for my future coaching career also.”
“I had a very interesting experience last year in India but this year I am more prepared and more excited and can’t wait to get started with Chennaiyin FC and help them retain the ISL trophy,” he added.