Jari Litmanen was the successor of Dennis Bergkamp as the new number 10 and he played a big part in the great Ajax team that made it to the Champions League final twice in the mid 90s. Winning the Champions League in 1995 was his career highlight and he earned to be considered as one of world’s best attacking midfielders. His Ajax teammates described him as The Professor, as he always wanted to know and understand everything. You could ask him any question and he would know the answer. But he would mostly be remembered as a modest but highly dedicated leader on and off the pitch. Or as Louis van Gaal stated “An Icon, he will always be an Icon of Ajax football”.
After Ajax he joined his coach and teammates for a transfer to FC Barcelona. Litmanen was recruited as one of Van Gaal’s favorite players to work with. But he was bothered by injuries and that prevented him to leave a mark at Blaugrana. His childhood dream came through when Litmanen made the transfer to Liverpool FC. As a kid he always watched Liverpool and he could not be more excited to join the club. Fans described him as The Liverpool King Never Crowned as he again could not manage to shake of the injuries. The fans only caught a glimpse of his effortless stylish way of playing and they could only imagine what he could do for the Reds if he could have played more games.
In Finland there is no doubt, Jari Litmanen is the most successful and best player the country ever had. Most capped, the topscorer and he was the best leader of the national team. They celebrate his impressive career by naming him Kuningas. And so do we, thank you King Jari Litmanen.
Shirt in pieces Ajax 1994-95 away, Liverpool 2001-02 home, FC Barcelona 2000-01 home