Former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise has identified the match where Alan Smith broke his ankle as his worst memory against Manchester United.
The two title rivals lock horns this weekend and, ahead of the fixture, Riise has spoken about his memories – which include the horrific injury sustained by the former United man.
Smith was left with an injury that would continue to cause problems with him beyond the end of his career and Riise has spoken about how it impacted him.
“The worst memory for me without a doubt in this fixture was breaking Alan Smith’s ankle. I took a free-kick and he broke his ankle by blocking it – rivals or not, you don’t want to see something like that happen to a fellow professional. Personally that’s the worst thing that I’ve experienced in that game,” he told Ladbrokes.
“After it had happened I went over to check up on him and I could just see his foot hanging there loose. You get sick, you know. You feel horrible. He’s stretchered off and I have to keep playing in the game – a massive game for us – but as soon as the match ended and I got back in the dressing room and showered, I called him in the hospital from my car and spoke to him about what had happened.
“He knew it wasn’t intentional, but at the same time I just wanted to make sure he knew I was sorry so I got his number and spoke to him straight away. Fans had their say and thought there was intent there because we were rivals but for me you respect your fellow professionals, whoever they play for. It was a bad day, a bad night for me, and I’d never wish that kind of thing on anyone.
“But when you’re playing football at that level you need to just focus on your next game. It’s hard, so I dealt with it in my head for the rest of the day and back home in the evening, and obviously the next day you have to deal with it all again because it’s in the papers, but then you have to carry on with your duties and focus on the next match.
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Manchester United secured a vital 1-0 victory over Burnley on Tuesday night to go top of the Premier League.
Paul Pogba scored the decisive goal in a hard-fought contest at Turf Moor, meaning United are now three points clear of Liverpool — who they face this weekend at Anfield.
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“I would text Alan from time to time to see how he was getting on and make sure he was OK and the main thing was that he got well again.
“All I can say is I’m glad social media wasn’t a thing back then. Obviously fans can overreact at times and that’s normal but thankfully I didn’t see too much of what Man United fans were saying about me because we didn’t have things like Twitter. No one can blame me for what happened; I was just doing my job and trying to have a shot and Alan was doing his job by blocking it. It was just unfortunate.
“My teammates could see after the game in the dressing room how much it affected me because I just felt really bad for the player – but they were great to make sure I was OK and the lads just told me to get hold of him and keep in touch with him throughout his injury and that’s what I did.”