Don't Call It A Comeback, He's Been Here For Years

You remember what Riise did before moving to Italy, right? You remember this, don't you? At the time, it was of course endlessly funny. After the move to Roma, it wasn't as laughable. It took on a morbid feel instead, a reminder tattooed onto our collective retinas, that we could, that we would be next.

I think the action looks worse than it is. The instinct isn't wrong per se; he can't ignore the ball coming in, or else Anelka scores, and that's that. But the fallout of that second of unfortunate action—hounding by fans, critics and neutrals alike (hey, an excuse to link to this!), and a sense that it was The Reason he was sold two months later—makes it understandable if Riise weren't so interested in doing anything similar ever again. Or indeed even risking making something like that happen. Perhaps it would even have been normal, more calculated, to resign oneself to become more cautious, to not gamble.

But in the game against Milan last night, there was an instance where the planets aligned and somewhere, the tripe in some fortune teller's kitchen spelled out the magic word, and a more or less identical scenario presented itself: a low cross came in from the right side of Roma's defense, heading towards Riise's zone. He had an attacker behind him, waiting to pounce. And he did it again. Of course he did it again.

This time everything went well, and the ball was cleared with a diving header. In and of itself, it was a complete non-event, and perhaps it still is one. But nothing ever happens in a vacuum, and considering the context I think it is surely to his credit that Riise didn't let his past affect him. It may well be that it was just his natural reaction, and that it happened without so much as a second of contemplation or self doubt, and that that would make him more stubborn and hard headed (with more than a dash of hubris thrown into the mix), but that's precisely why he's a professional athlete. Kudos for that, if little else.