The man they call ‘Thunderbolt’ will no longer be banging in shots from distance for Norway as John Arne Riise announced his international retirement on Monday.
The 32 year old left-back goes out as Norway’s most-capped player ever with 110 appearances. Riise made his debut for the Drillos against Iceland in January 2000 and went on to score his first international goal against Turkey in a friendly the following month. Over the ensuing decade Riise solidified his spot as Norway’s first-choice left-back. In last August’s match against Greece, Riise played his 104th match for Norway, equalling the 50 year old record held by Thorbjørn Svenssen.
Riise claims his decision to quit international football was because he recognized he was in the final phase of his career and wanted to fully focus on club football at Fulham. “After a lot of thought I’ve decided not to continue with international football,” Riise said in a statement on Monday.
“I am going into the final stage of my career and I’m at an age where I have to take a clear decision if I want to achieve my final goal, to play another four or five years in Europe.”
While Norwegian Football Association president Yngve Hallen was gracious in his receipt of the news – noting that “[Riise’s] contribution on the pitch has been formidable,” – the ginger has chosen an interesting time to retire.
With just five matches remaining in FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Norway sits in fourth place in Group E, just five points behind group leader Switzerland and two adrift of Iceland and Albania. It’s a position that many would feel Norway could take advantage of as they try to qualify for their first World Cup since 1998. Furthermore, the fact that Riise has never participated in a World Cup makes the decision even more surprising.
Like many players on the wrong side of 30, Riise’s decision makes financial sense. By freeing himself of international football he decreases the strain on his legs, increasing the likelihood that he can continue to perform well for Fulham and earn himself one more contract to pad that bank account.
Marek Hamsik hit a ball with such momentous force that we’re not sure it rotated more than three full turns on its 20-yard flight into the goal.
The Slovakia star’s goal equalized a friendly with Germany at 1, and Repre went on to hammer the reigning World Cup champs by a 3-1 score.
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I mean, really, what a hit. Bernd Leno had little hope of touching it.
Longtime Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick spoke glowingly of new boss Jose Mourinho amidst rumors he’ll sign a one-year extension with the Old Trafford set.
Carrick, 34, joined United from Tottenham in 2006, and has won major trophy after major trophy with the club. He wants more, and he doesn’t care how.
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The 34-times capped English midfielder has 421 appearances for United, and could fit neatly into a Mourinho system.
From The Mirror:
“You have to be number one and winning trophies and if you can do that with a bit of style and a bit of flair then that is the perfect match but first and foremost it is about winning and getting back on top.
“There is going to be change without a doubt because he is coming in and he is his own man.
“He has got an unbelievable track record and everyone is looking for quick results and that’s how it is.”
We have to wonder how the United fans who booed Louis Van Gaal after every turn will react to these comments, although wins cure everything, right?
There were many rumors than N'Golo Kante had a deal that would allow him to leave Leicester City, but the midfielder doesn’t sound like the leaving type.
According to L’Equipe, Kante isn’t looking to leave the Premier League champions, and is content to play in the UEFA Champions League with the Foxes next season.
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He’s been tipped to move to Real Madrid and Manchester City amongst other potential stops.
“For now, I am happy at Leicester,” he said. “I do not pay too much attention to everything that is said.”
That vibe is running through the headlines today, as UEFA Champions League winners Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez say they want to stay at Real Madrid, and Isco is also happy to come back to the Bernabeu to make a run at a first La Liga title since the 2011-12 season.
Steve Bruce saw Hull City go down to the Championship, and pulled the Tigers right back up the Premier League.
Hull won promotion at the first time of asking after defeating Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 on Saturday, but Bruce wants to see stability at the KC Stadium.
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The club remains up for sale after owner Assem Allam saw his request to change the team name to Hull Tigers denied by the English Football Association.
From the BBC:
“I’ll sit down with the owners. It’s not often you walk away from the Premier League – that’s where I want to manage,” Bruce told BBC Radio 5 live.
“But I have to be given certain assurances that we’re all moving in the right direction.
“I keep hearing too many stories that there’s a takeover imminent. We’ll see what develops,” added the 55-year-old.
The longtime Manchester United back has been around the managerial block a few times, and it’d be nice to see him stay at Hull for the long term. He’s led the Tigers into the Premier League on two occasions, and is — seriously — the seventh longest tenured manager in the Football League. He would enter the Premier League as the second-longest serving manager, to Arsene Wenger.