Beloved former Liverpool wingback John Arne Riise could be joining popular Maltese football club Birkirkara as sporting director, it is being rumoured.
As part of their live blog on football transfers and rumours, the Times of Malta yesterday said that an agreement has already been reached between Birkirkara FC and Riise for the former Norwegian international to form part of the Maltese club’s technical staff. It was also reported that the finalising of Riise’s appointment with Birkirkara would come later today when he returns to the island.
Of course, if such a significant signing turns out to be real, this could very well cast further doubt on the future of Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit, who has been the subject of criticism by the club’s top administration in the last few weeks. Just last October, Birkirkara president Frank Zarb openly criticised Zammit’s management on various television programmes, and the situation only seems to be getting worse.
Zarb has refused to give any further details on which position John Arne Riise will be filling, but the Times of Malta has said he’ll most likely join Birkirkara as sporting director, a senior management role which could see him act as an intermediary between the manager and board.
If Riise’s role ends up tallying with most technical or sporting directors at European (mostly UK) clubs, he could also end up handling aspects away from day-to-day coaching to allow the manager to focus on on-pitch performance.
Besides being the most capped player for Norway’s national football team with an impressive 110 appearances, John Arne Semundseth Riise also made 321 appearances in the Premier League.
During his successful seven years with Liverpool between 2001 and 2008, the Norwegian won many honours, including the 2004/5 UEFA Champions League. He scored 21 goals for the Premier League giants, before moving on to Roma in 2008. In those following three years before returning to the Premier League to play with Fulham, Riise scored seven goals in his 99 appearances with the Italian club.
Now retired from the pitch, Riise is currently acting as brand ambassador of betting giants Betsson. Over the last month, he’s held talks with Birkirkara president Frank Zarb over the possibility to take a position at the club, with the pair being spotted at the Hibs stadium in December.