Sep 25, 2013, 7:09 AM EDT
One of English soccer’s most talented, and hugely under-appreciated, attackers has been recognized with the greats of the English game.
It’s about time.
On Wednesday night Matthew Le Tissier will be placed into the National Football Musuem’s Hall of Fame, joining many other legendary players to receive the prestigious award.
Le Tissier deserves this accolade for many reasons, but number one, he was a fantastic player. Growing up watching him play live almost every week, it was a real treat to see this guy make other pros look like Sunday pub players. The way he would caress a ball to score stunning goals and pick out teammates was sublime, somehow he got as much power from striking the ball with the instep of his foot, as he did with his laces.
That in itself is a skill worth making the hall of fame.
From 1986-2002, Le Tissier played for Southampton in England’s top-flight, often keeping them up by the skin of their teeth thanks to his magnificent goalscoring record from midfield. He played in 443 games for the Saints, scoring 161 goals, with most of them screamers. However, despite being one of England’s most talented players at the time, national team manager Terry Venables decide Le Tissier wasn’t good enough to play for his country. The Guernsey born attacker only won eight caps for the Three Lions.
Many see that as a travesty. If he played for one of England’s top clubs, Le Tissier could have played for England many times and won many trophies. But he didn’t, he is a loyal, one club man and will always be remembered fondly for that.
I remember touring Southampton’s training ground as wide-eyed youngster, and seeing a battered wall close to a wooded area, which had small circles painted all over it. This thing had obviously taking a beating, and the perpetrator was Le Tissier. Apparently, he practiced his dead-ball situations against this wall for hours most days, after all the other players had left.
He may have not been the fittest player, (understatement alert) but ‘Le Tiss’ was one of the best free kick takers in Premier League history, and scoring 47 out of 48 penalties is a record that seems him held up as the undisputed ‘penalty king’ of English soccer.
On Wednesday Le Tissier will join the likes of David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and George Best, into English soccer’s history books. And after turning down many lucrative moves to bigger clubs (Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham) to spend his entire career at Southampton, the man they call ‘Le God’ on England’s South Coast has finally been recognized properly.
Watch this incredible video below, accompanied by a bit of Mozart, to remind yourself just how good Le Tissier was.
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