In the second part of his exclusive interview with Football Italia, John Arne Riise tells us how he misses ‘the ridiculously good passion’ of his spell at Roma.
Speaking to Livio Caferoglu at the Golazio bar in South London for the launch for his autobiography Running Man, Riise remembered how Claudio Ranieri almost led Roma to the 2009-10 Scudetto and why he evaded criticism during his time at the Olimpico.
“First of all, I loved playing for Ranieri because he let me play my game,” continued the man nicknamed ‘Gladiator’.
“I think the first game at Siena away I was a sub, but I came on and scored the winner and ever since then I played every game.
“He got the best out of me, he was such a people’s person. You could talk to him, he was funny. He demanded a lot, but he gave us freedom to play how we wanted.
“We were so close to winning the title and I just loved playing for him. I still text him every now and then because he wasn’t just important to me as a manager but also as a person.
“He helped me a lot, he trusted me. I was very happy for him at Leicester and I’m very happy for him now at Fulham.
“My most important goal was the Juventus goal because I connected with the fans, but I also scored a free kick against Milan in Maldini’s last home game, into the top corner, which was really nice as well.
“I always loved scoring. To be honest, I miss playing football because of the city, the fans, the passion.
“Sometimes the passion can take over because if you lose certain games, they might not be happy. But the passion in that city is ridiculously good.
“I got the nickname ‘Gladiator’ and it meant a lot to me, but all the fans want is that you give 110 percent on the pitch.
“I was very lucky because that was part of my football style. I didn’t get that negativity, pressure or criticism so much.
“As a team we got it, but not me personally because they knew I was always running, fighting and always wanted to score.
“I was lucky. I could see some players getting more criticism. But then again, how hard is it to give 110% on the pitch?
“Yes you can miss a pass, yes you can miss a goal, everyone does that, but at least show something and fight for the team.
“That’s all you have to do. If you do that, the fans will love you.”