My Football Heroes: Matt Le Tissier

Matt Le Tissier was a one club man, he was Southampton through and through. Le Tissier, was celebrated for it, criticised for it and defined by it. Although Le Tissier has no major medals to show for his 16 seasons with Southampton, his achievements are many and one of the greatest strikers to play in the Premier League.

Le Tissier was so clever at inviting the defender in, then nicking the ball past him. His finishing ability is right up there with the very best – It is no wonder he is known as “Le God”. Le Tissier had the ability to play for a bigger club, however he would never move from Southampton because he loved it so much there. Southampton was a way of life for Le Tissier, still is to this day, he wouldn’t change it for the world. People often wonder if Le Tissier’s strong ties with Southampton affected his England career, that may have been the case, though Le Tissier still doesn’t regret a thing.

In the Premier League, Le Tissier scored a total of 101 goals – A lot of them being wonder goals! The audacious chip against Manchester United in 1996, the half volley against Wilmbledon in 1994, the 30 yard wonder strike against Coventry in 1996 and who could forget his two goals against Newcastle United in 1993? There were so many that you tend to lose track. Matt Le Tissier was a deadly penalty taker, he scored 47 and missed just one. Being a Newcastle fan, I had the pleasure of watching Alan Shearer every week, his penalty record was fantastic, Le Tissier’s was better. It takes a lot of nerve and confidence in your ability to step up and take a penalty, Le Tissier was always confident that he would find the back of the net from the spot. Le Tissier actually looked forward to taking a penalty, he enjoyed the situation.

Pre-season was a struggle for Le Tissier, he was known for the fact the didn’t like to run. Le Tissier acknowledged that he did not have the right mental attitude towards it. The Southampton legend was certainly not known for his work rate, but his ability with a football allowed him to get away with that.

Le Tissier was born in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, this meant he could have played for a number of different countries. Many have the opinion that Le Tissier chose the wrong option – England. I still can’t quite believe that Le Tissier only has eight caps. It is a great shame that Le Tissier didn’t play more times for England, he’s the type of player that are hard to find, especially in England.

Le Tissier didn’t win any titles or cups but his achievements are measured by his contributions in keeping Southampton in the Premier League from its inception to his retirement in 2002. Le Tissier claims he enjoyed the relegation battles over the years, he enjoyed playing under that kind of pressure, where many other players crumble. Three seasons after the Southampton legend retired, the club were relegated.

Le Tissier’s last goal was also the last one to be scored at The Dell, a game he had started from the bench. In total he played 540 games, scoring 210 goals for the saints. A true legend of Southampton and of the game itself.

Thanks for the memories ‘Le God’.

Comments welcome.