Riise's European fire burning brightly at Fulham

Though he has achieved a lot in a distinguished career, John Arne Riise would still be hurt if Fulham FC failed to finish second in Group K against eliminated Odense BK on Wednesday.

John Arne Riise is vastly experienced at European level
John Arne Riise is vastly experienced at European level ©Getty Images

A UEFA Champions League winner and Fulham FC's most experienced continental campaigner, John Arne Riise would be "devastated" if the English club's European run came to an end against Odense BK.

Be it for his century of Norway caps or for his part in the Liverpool FC team that dramatically defeated AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul six years ago, the left-back has seen, and accomplished, a lot in a distinguished career.

The competitive edge that enabled him to achieve such success remains as sharp as ever. Indeed, failure to finish second in UEFA Europa League Group K would be a bitter blow to the 31-year-old as well as to the 2010 finalists, who will progress with a victory regardless of the result between Wisła Kraków and section winners FC Twente.

"I would be devastated if we didn't go through," said Riise, who could make his 120th UEFA club competition outing at Craven Cottage on Wednesday. "I hate losing and I always try to win every game I play. Obviously that doesn't always happen, but tomorrow is a match we're favourites for and it would be quite hurtful not to go through."

Like Fulham, Riise's European season has been a stop-start affair. Having arrived from AS Roma in July, he featured in four of the west London side's eight qualifying fixtures but did not surface in the group stage until matchday four.

"It has been up and down," explained Riise, when asked to summarise his and Martin Jol's team's campaign. "We would have liked to have been in a better position going into the last game, but, at the same time, we have our destiny in our hands. If we win we're through and that's a nice feeling to have.

"From my point of view, I came into the competition a little bit later than the other players, because they started early [on 30 June]. The manager decided to rest me for a few games at the beginning but now I've played the last two. I want to play every match but if the manager decides to rest me then that's fine and I respect it."

Runners-up in Denmark last term, OB come to England for their final fixture of the year languishing eighth in the Danish Super League, eliminated from Europe and having conceded 19 goals in their last six UEFA away trips. Their chances of springing a surprise, though, are enhanced by the suspension of Fulham's five-goal top scorer in the group stage, Andrew Johnson.

"They haven't had the best campaign, but they have the quality to hurt any team, that's why we have to be on top of our game," warned Riise, whose younger brother – Bjørn Helge – is also on Fulham's books. "I'm sure we'll do that, play our best football and get the three points. We're fully aware of what they can do, but at the same time, on paper we're the better side and should win."

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