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Jari Litmanen
Jari Litmanen.jpg
Personal information
Full name Jari Olavi Litmanen
Date of birth 20 February 1971 (1971-02-20) (age 38)
Place of birth    Hollola, Finland
Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11+12 in)
Playing position Striker
Attacking midfielder
Second striker
Club information
Current club Lahti
Number 10
Youth career
1977–1987 Reipas
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
FC Barcelona
Hansa Rostock
086 (28)
027 (16)
018 0(7)
155 (87)
021 0(3)
026 0(5)
020 0(5)
011 0(3)
013 0(1)
010 0(3)
000 0(0)
019 0(5)   
National team2
1989- Finland 129 (31)

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of 8 October 2009.
2 National team caps and goals correct
as of 9 September 2009.
* Appearances (Goals)

Jari Olavi Litmanen (About this sound pronunciation ) (born 20 February 1971 in Lahti) is a Finnish footballer, currently playing for Lahti of the Finnish Premier Division.

He is widely considered the country's greatest ever.[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" or "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 spanning 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 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. After four seasons 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 won the Finnish Cup with MyPa before moving abroad in the summer of 1992. His performance in the cup final convinced a scout of Ajax that the club should sign him. “For me, he was the player,” the scout later told the Finnish television.


Jari Litmanen's Ajax shirt in Sports Museum of Finland

Litmanen had been chased by a host of European clubs, but in the end it was Ajax who bought him. His first season in the Netherlands was spent in Dennis Bergkamp's shadow, but when Bergkamp moved to Internazionale it was Litmanen who was given the famous number 10 shirt. He scored 26 goals in the 1993-94 season, becoming the league's top scorer, and leading Ajax to the title.

He was one of the star players of Louis van Gaal's team that reached the UEFA Champions League final twice in a row. Litmanen became the first ever Finnish player to have won the European Cup 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 24 goals in 44 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.

Return to Ajax

Litmanen decided to return to Ajax, and was given a hero's welcome with the crowd once again singing his name. He was one of the key players as Ajax reached the quarter-finals of the 2002-03 Champions League. Much of the following season, though, was once again spent on the sidelines, and once again, in the spring of 2004, Litmanen was released.

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".[7] However, Litmanen moved to German Bundesliga strugglers Hansa Rostock in January 2005 to help save them from relegation. At Rostock he had the longest run of first-team football in recent memory. In the end, though, Hansa were relegated, which ended Litmanen's stint at the club.

Malmö FF

Litmanen joined Malmö 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 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 and Litmanen decided to extend his contract over the 2007 season. However, an ankle injury in June 2007 forced Litmanen to cancel it.[8]


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.[9 ]

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[10].

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.[11] 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.

International career

Jari Litmanen is Finland's most capped player and his country's all-time leading scorer. His international career has now lasted for 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 . Litmanen is also Finland's all-time leading scorer with 31 goals.

It was thought that Litmanen would miss the rest of the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, due to the operation on his ankle in 2007, and would have to be out for 6 months. However, Finland coach Hodgson announced Litmanen once again for the squad on 8 November with two crucial qualifying games left. He was Finland's leading goalscorer in Finland's Euro 2008 qualifying campaign with three goals, one against Kazakhstan and two against Poland. His last game for Finland was the qualifier against Portugal on 21 November 2007 as a starter (substituted on the 67th minute). On 6 February 2008, he scored his 29th international goal, giving Finland the lead in a friendly played in Nicosia, Cyprus, against Greece, eventually won 2-1 by the reigning European champions. On 26 March 2008, Litmanen played as a starter in a friendly against Bulgaria, and scored the opening goal, his 30th international goal, from a penalty kick. Although he played very well, he was substituted after the first half, and Bulgaria eventually won the friendly by 2-1.

On 28 March 2009, Jari Litmanen made a wonderful performance against Wales in Cardiff. [12] He started the game and played nearly until the final whistle. His influence in midfield was inspirational for Finland. Litmanen provided a great pass to Jonatan Johansson, who opened the score just before the break. Finland eventually won the game 2-0 and were in contention to qualify for World cup 2010 finals until drawing with Liechtenstein few months later. The team have however alongside Jari, played well in a group including Euro 2008 finalists Germany and semi-finalists Russia from the same tournament.

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. In September 2007, the couple's second son was born.

Career statistics

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 Finnish League Cup Europe Total
1987 Reipas Lahti Veikkausliiga 9 0
1988 26 8
1989 25 6
1990 26 14
1991 HJK Helsinki Veikkausliiga 27 16
1992 MyPa Veikkausliiga 18 7
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 0 0 5 4 37 32
1994-95 27 17 3 3 1 1 11 6 42 27
1995-96 26 14 2 0 0 0 4 9 32 23
1996-97 16 6 0 0 1 0 6 2 23 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
2000-01 0 0
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2000-01 Liverpool Premier League 5 1
2001-02 21 4
Netherlands League KNVB Cup League Cup Europe Total
2002-03 Ajax Eredivisie 14 5 0 0 7 2
2003-04 6 0 0 0 3 0
Finland League Finnish Cup Finnish League Cup Europe Total
2004 Lahti Veikkausliiga 11 3
Germany League DFB-Pokal Premiere Ligapokal Europe Total
2004-05 Hansa Rostock Bundesliga 13 1
Sweden League Svenska Cupen League Cup Europe Total
2005 Malmö Allsvenskan 2 1
2006 8 2
2007 0 0
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2007-08 Fulham Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Finland League Finnish Cup Finnish League Cup Europe Total
2008 Lahti Veikkausliiga 6 3
2009 12 2 6 1
Total Finland 153 59
Netherlands 179 96
Spain 21 3
England 26 5
Germany 13 1
Sweden 10 3
Career Total 402 167


Club titles

Personal awards and achievements


External links

Simple English

Jari Litmanen
Personal information
Full name Jari Olavi Litmanen
Date of birth 20 February 1971 (1971-02-20) (age 40)
Place of birth    Lahti, Finland
Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11+12 in)
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current club Lahti
Number 10
Youth clubs
1977-1987 Reipas Lahti
Senior clubs
Years Club
Reipas Lahti
HJK Helsinki
Hansa Rostock
Malmö FF
National team
1989- Finland

Jari Litmanen (born 20 February 1971) is a Finnish football player. He plays for Lahti and Finland national team.

Club career statistics


Club Performance League
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals
1987Reipas LahtiVeikkausliiga90
1991HJK HelsinkiVeikkausliiga2716
1999/00BarcelonaLa Liga213
2000/01LiverpoolPremier League51
2004/05Hansa RostockBundesliga131
2005Malmö FFAllsvenskan21
2007/08FulhamPremier League00
CountryFinland 16159
Netherlands 17996
Spain 213
England 265
Germany 131
Sweden 103
Total 410167

International career statistics


Finland national team


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