sunnuntai 25. syyskuuta 2011


Jari Litmanen

Jari Litmanen
Litmanen jari.jpg
Personal information
Full name Jari Olavi Litmanen
Date of birth 20 February 1971 (age 40)
Place of birth lahti, Finland
Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Second striker
Club information
Current club HJK
Number 10
Youth career
1977–1987 Reipas
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987–1990 Reipas 86 (28)
1991 HJK 27 (16)
1992 MyPa 18 (7)
1992–1999 Ajax 159 (91)
1999–2001 Barcelona 21 (3)
2001–2002 Liverpool 26 (5)
2002–2004 Ajax 20 (5)
2004 Lahti 11 (3)
2005 Hansa Rostock 13 (1)
2005–2007 Malmö FF 10 (3)
2008 Fulham 0 (0)
2008–2010 Lahti 40 (10)
2011– HJK 7 (1)
436 (172)
National team
1989– Finland 137 (32)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Jari Olavi Litmanen (About this sound pronunciation (help·info)) (born 20 February 1971 in Lahti) is a Finnish footballer, currently playing for HJK. He is the current vice-captain of Finland national football team, where he served as a first choice captain between 1996–2008. His international career has run from 1989 to date, making him the only footballer to play an International in four different decades.

He is widely considered to be Finland's greatest football player of all time.[1] He was chosen as the best Finnish player of the last 50 years by the Football Association of Finland in the UEFA Jubilee Awards in November 2003.[2] Litmanen also finished 42nd in the 100 Greatest Finns voting in 2004. The Association of Football Statisticians' (The AFS) compendium of 'Greatest Ever Footballers' listed Litmanen as the 53rd best footballer ever.[3] In Finland he is often called "Litti" (after Pierre Littbarski), which dates from his early years in Finland; his childhood playmate Tommi Kautonen was "Auge" after Klaus Augenthaler. He is very often also called "Kuningas" ("The King").

Litmanen was the long-time captain and is currently the second-choice captain of the Finnish national team, in an international career lasting two decades. During his club career he has represented Reipas, HJK, MyPa and Lahti in Finland, as well as Ajax, FC Barcelona, Liverpool, Hansa Rostock, Malmö FF and Fulham abroad. Once considered one of the best attacking midfielders in the world,[4] he became the first Finnish footballing superstar while playing for Ajax in the mid-1990s. He was a key player in the Amsterdam side that won the 1995 Champions League.


Club career

Early career

Litmanen made his first-team debut for Reipas in Finland's then top division Mestaruussarja at the age of 16 in 1987. Around this time he also played ice hockey and it was said that he was among the most gifted young hockey players in Reipas.[5] After four seasons with Reipas he moved to HJK, Finland's biggest club, in 1991. A year later he joined MyPa, where he was coached by Harri Kampman, who later became his agent. Litmanen did not win any medals in the Finnish league, but he did win the Finnish Cup with MyPa in July 1992, in a 2–0 win over FF Jaro in the final at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. His performance in the cup final, including a goal, convinced a scout of Ajax that the club should sign him. "For me, he was the player," the scout later told the Finnish television. His transfer then took place later the same year.


Jari Litmanen's Ajax shirt in Sports Museum of Finland

Prior to his move to Ajax, Litmanen had missed a contract with a top Romanian team FC Dinamo Bucureşti, where he was refused. He was eventually chased by a host of European clubs, at least by Barcelona, Leeds United and PSV Eindhoven,[6] but in the end it was Ajax who bought him.

Ajax team manager David Endt, who as the person responsible of the staff in Ajax around that time, described his first impression of Litmanen to the Finnish broadcasting corporation YLE in 2010:[7]

The press conference is over, and in comes Jari Litmanen, from behind the door. And I looked at his face and I looked at his eyes, and I recognised something in those eyes. And I thought, this is a man with a great willpower. Because he was not shy, not timid, but he was modest. He is not a man who will raise his voice, or bang with his fist on the table and say, ‘We do it this way.’ No, he was more of a diplomat, not wanting to be a leader, but being a leader. … He wanted to know everything about football, he was interested in every part of the game, and this gave him the nickname, within the team, we called him ‘the Professor,’ because you could ask anything about football, and he would know the answer.

During 1992–93, his first season at Ajax, he played mostly in the reserves. Supposedly the manager, Louis van Gaal, was already ready to send him back to Finland, but the team physiotherapist advised him to use him to stand in for Dennis Bergkamp, who was injured at the time. Van Gaal liked what he saw, and knowing that Bergkamp about to leave for Internazionale, he announced that during the following season Litmanen would be Bergkamp’s successor, something that people in Litmanen’s native Finland found difficult to believe.[7] However, this turned out to be true, and he inherited from Bergkamp the famous number 10 shirt, which is often given to playmakers. He went on to score 26 goals in the 1993–94 season, becoming the league's top scorer, and leading Ajax to the title. He was also voted the footballer of the year in the Netherlands in 1993.

Litmanen was one of the star players of Louis van Gaal's team that reached the UEFA Champions League final twice in a row. He became the first ever Finnish player to have won the European Cup or the UEFA Champions League when Ajax beat Milan in the 1994-95 final. In 1995-96, Litmanen was the Champions League top scorer with nine goals, including the equaliser in the final against Juventus, which Ajax lost on penalties 4-2. He also won the Intercontinental Cup against Grêmio in 1995, and came third in the voting for the Ballon d'Or (European Footballer of the Year), having finished eighth the previous year.

Litmanen spent seven years in Amsterdam, winning four Dutch championships and three Dutch Cups. He is the club's top scorer in European competition with 26 goals in 54 matches. Litmanen owns the honour of being one of just three players presented in a special video featurette at the Ajax Museum. The other two are Marco van Basten and Johan Cruyff.[8] In his time at Ajax, some fans called him "Merlin" because of the magic he brought to the pitch.


In 1999, Litmanen was re-united with his old boss van Gaal at FC Barcelona. His stint with the club was, however, largely plagued by injuries, and when van Gaal was replaced by Llorenç Serra Ferrer, his chances of playing became even smaller. In the end, Litmanen moved to Liverpool on a free transfer, in January 2001.


Litmanen was hailed as "one of the most exciting signings Liverpool have ever made" by the manager Gérard Houllier upon signing for the club he had supported as a boy.[9] He wanted to wear the number seven shirt as worn by his childhood hero Kenny Dalglish, however this had already been taken by Vladimir Smicer. As shirt numbers 17 and 27 were also in use, he settled for the number 37. But, once again, injuries meant that Litmanen was given little playing time. He did score goals against Tottenham Hotspur and Bayer Leverkusen, and scored a penalty in Liverpool's victory over Roma in the Champions League. He was part of the Liverpool team that won the "cup treble" of the Worthington Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001, even though he missed all three finals because of injury. Litmanen was again given permission to move clubs for free after the 2001–02 season scoring a total of 9 goals in 43 official matches during the two seasons.

Return to Ajax

Litmanen decided to return to Ajax, and was given a hero's welcome with the crowd again singing his name. He was one of the key players as Ajax reached the quarter-finals of the 2002-03 Champions League, but he continued to be plagued by injuries, and much of the following season was once again spent on the sidelines. In the spring of 2004, the club released him from his contract.

FC Lahti and Hansa Rostock

Litmanen's return to Finland, as he joined Lahti, was much hyped, and was hailed as "the return of the king".[10] However, Litmanen moved to German Bundesliga strugglers Hansa Rostock in January 2005 to help save them from relegation. In the end, though, Hansa were relegated, which ended Litmanen's stint at the club.

Malmö FF

Litmanen joined Malmö FF in July 2005 in a bid to help the Swedes qualify for the Champions League. This bid, however, failed, and Litmanen himself was injured during the whole of the autumn, only making a few appearances. He decided to continue his career with Malmö FF in the 2006 season, which saw Litmanen continue to be sidelined with a number of injuries for much of the season. However, the matches he did play showed he remains a brilliant player when healthy. After an operation to repair a damaged ankle during the winter break, Malmö FF and Litmanen decided to extend his contract over the 2007 season. However, an ankle injury in June 2007 forced Litmanen to cancel it.[11]


In January 2008, Litmanen received a 10-day trial invitation from Fulham FC, managed by former Finland manager Roy Hodgson, and was signed on 31 January 2008 alongside countryman Toni Kallio. Just weeks after signing with Fulham, Litmanen had to return to his native Finland to rest, after serious heart concerns.

On 31 March 2008, Litmanen made his debut in a Fulham shirt, in a Reserve-team match against Tottenham Reserves. Five minutes before half time, Litmanen scored the opening goal from a penalty kick. He was substituted after 63 minutes, and Fulham Reserves went on to lose the match 1-3. Despite signing for the club in January, Litmanen was released by Fulham in May of the same year without playing a single game in the first team.[12]

Return to Lahti

Local newspapers of Helsinki reported that during his vacation in Rome in June, he was approached by former Greece player, and now General Director of PAOK, Zisis Vryzas for the prospect of joining his club the following season. Litmanen has been training with Lahti for some weeks in Summer 2008.[13]

On 8 August 2008, it was announced that Litmanen would join his former club Lahti of the Finnish Premier Division for the remainder of the 2008 season.[14] He only played 34 minutes in his first match. He scored twice and gave passes to two other goals. He played an important role when FC Lahti for the first time managed to finish third in the league and qualify for European game in the club's history. He signed a new one-year contract with Lahti on 16 April 2009. Litmanen scored his first European goal for Lahti in a 2–0 against Gorica in the second qualifying round of UEFA Europa League, with the final aggregate score being 2–1. This was his 30th European goal in 83 European matches. On 18 September 2010 he scored a bicycle kick goal against AC Oulu in a 1-2 away victory.

On 23 October 2010 he scored his 50th Veikkausliiga goal, but this happened in a 3-2 loss against TPS and it didn't stop FC Lahti from being relegated to Ykkönen.

Return to HJK

On 20 April 2011 Litmanen signed a one-year contract with the reigning Finnish champions, HJK, at the age of 40, making him one of the only players to play at a professional level in four different decades (80's, 90's, 00's and 10's).[15] On 24 September 2011 he scored a spectacular halfvolley in the Finnish Cup final against KuPS as HJK won by 2-1.

International career

Litmanen after Finland - San Marino match.

Jari Litmanen is Finland's all-time leading scorer. His international career has now lasted over two decades.

Litmanen made his Finland debut on 22 October 1989 against Trinidad and Tobago, and scored his first goal on 16 May 1991 against Malta. The fact that Finland have never qualified for a major tournament has also prevented Litmanen from proving his talent at the highest level in international competition. Litmanen served as Finland's captain from 1996 to 2008, and was arguably their key player for more than a decade, helping the team to many unexpected victories against higher ranked opposition.

Litmanen received his 100th cap on 25 January 2006 against South Korea. He now holds the record for most caps for Finland, and is one of only four Finns to have reached a century of caps, the others being Ari Hjelm, Sami Hyypiä and Jonatan Johansson.

On 19 January 2010 playing for Finland against South Korea in a friendly international in Malaga he had the distinction of playing for Finland In four different decades.

On 17 November 2010, Litmanen became the oldest player ever to score for Finland and also the oldest player overall to score a goal in the qualification competitions for the European championships when he netted a penalty in an 8-0 win over San Marino.[16] Litmanen hasn't yet stated, whether he is going to continue playing or not.

International goals

Finland's score first.

Future career options

The sports news programme Urheiluruutu of the Finnish TV company YLE interviewed in February 2011 two former team mates of Litmanen’s about the possibility of his working for Ajax when he decides to quit his playing career. Former Ajax captain Danny Blind said the following:[17]

Jari knows the door is always open for him as an assistant coach, as a youth coach, whatever in the club. We love Jari, and we know his qualities as a football player, but also as a coach, I think, so the door is always open for him.

Michel Kreek of the Ajax Academy was equally positive about this possibility:

It would be great if Jari would return here in Ajax, we played together, Jari came to Ajax when I played in the first team, and we saw him become a world player, so if that kind of player are willing to come back to Amsterdam, to Ajax, and put some of their experience into Ajax Academy, it’s only a great help for us.

Personal life

Litmanen was born into a footballing family. His father, Olavi Litmanen, was also a Finnish international and a Reipas player. His mother also played for Reipas at the women's highest level. Litmanen became a father in November 2005, when his Estonian girlfriend Ly Jürgenson gave birth to a son named Caro. The couple's second son, Bruno, was born in September 2007.

On 10 October 2010 Litmanen became the first Finnish team sport player to receive a statue. His statue is located at Kisapuisto (Lahti) where he started his career in the 70's.[18]

Besides playing, Litmanen - using his old contacts in Netherlands - has also managed to send young Finnish players to visit the training camps and play on trial to numerous clubs in Eredivisie. Including Kari Arkivuo, Drilon Shala and Berat Sadik at Go Ahead Eagles and most recently Henri Toivomäki at Ajax.

Career statistics

As of 24 September, 2011, after KuPS v HJK on 24 September 2011.
Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Finland League Finnish Cup League Cup Europe Total
1987 Reipas Lahti Veikkausliiga 9 0 1 0 10 0
1988 26 8 4 0 30 8
1989 25 6 4 2 29 8
1990 26 14 3 0 29 14
1991 HJK Helsinki Veikkausliiga 27 16 0 0 2 0 29 16
1992 MyPa Veikkausliiga 18 7 6 4 24 11
Netherlands League KNVB Cup League Cup Europe Total
1992–93 Ajax Eredivisie 12 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 14 1
1993–94 30 26 2 2 1 2 5 4 38 34
1994–95 27 17 3 3 1 1 11 6 42 27
1995–96 26 14 2 0 0 0 10 9 38 23
1996–97 16 6 0 0 1 0 7 2 24 8
1997–98 25 16 3 4 0 0 6 2 34 22
1998–99 23 11 4 1 1 0 4 1 32 13
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1999–00 Barcelona La Liga 21 3 3 1 5 0 29 4
2000–01 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2000-01 Liverpool Premier League 5 1 2 1 2 0 2 0 11 2
2001–02 21 4 1 0 1 0 9 3 32 7
Netherlands League KNVB Cup League Cup Europe Total
2002–03 Ajax Eredivisie 14 5 1 0 0 0 7 2 22 7
2003–04 6 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 9 0
Finland League Finnish Cup League Cup Europe Total
2004 Lahti Veikkausliiga 11 3 1 0 1 0 13 3
Germany League DFB-Pokal Premiere Ligapokal Europe Total
2004–05 Hansa Rostock Bundesliga 13 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 14 1
Sweden League Svenska Cupen League Cup Europe Total
2005 Malmö FF Allsvenskan 2 1

2 0 4* 1*
2006 8 2

8* 2*
2007 0 0

0* 0*
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2007–08 Fulham Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Finland League Finnish Cup League Cup Europe Total
2008 Lahti Veikkausliiga 6 3 0 0 0 0 6 3
2009 13 2 2 0 3 1 6 1 24 4
2010 21 5 0 0 2 0 23 5
2011 HJK Helsinki 12 1 1 1 1 0 2 0 16 2
Total Finland 194 65 22 7 7 1 10 1 233 74
Netherlands 179 96 16 10 4 3 54 26 253 135
Spain 21 3 3 1 5 0 29 4
England 26 5 3 1 3 0 11 3 43 9
Germany 13 1 1 0 0 0 14 1
Sweden 10 3

2 0 12* 3*
Finnish national team 137 32 137 32
Career total 580 205 45* 19* 14 4 82 30 721* 258*
  • Asterisk (*) indicates the matches played and the number of goals at least scored, further research may produce more matches and goals.
  • Finnish League Cup held for the first time only in 1994. In Sweden and in Spain, there are no league cup.
  • The matches listed as the Dutch league cup are actually matches played in the Dutch Super Cup (season 1992–1993 to 1995–1996), continued as the Johan Cruijff Schaal (from season 1996–1997 on), traditionally played before the start of the season between the Dutch national champions and the KNVB Cup winners.


Reached 100 goals for AFC Ajax (total 135 goals in 253 matches)

Club titles

Finland MyPa

Finland HJK

Netherlands Ajax

England Liverpool

Personal awards and achievements


External links

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