This is a more detailed interview with Bjorn-Helge Riise than some of the snippets we’ve read in the press. It covers, of course, the meeting with his brother tonight, but also how he’s started at Fulham and the Europa League.
Of course, the younger Riise is looking forward to taking on Roma tonight.
I’m really looking forward to that game. Roma’s a very big club and it will be a good game, but it also means so much to me, of course. I just hope I can play so that little brother’s going to beat big brother.
He was always much bigger than me and I got beaten down a little when we were growing up, so it’s payback time. It would be the first time I’ve played against my brother. We played together as kids but never on opposite sides. I really hope Roy will play me in right midfield in that game!
Bjorn-Helge is aware that his older brother, John Arne, comes in for plenty of stick when he visits Craven Cottage – the legacy of his last-minute decision to renege on an agreement to sign for Fulham and join Liverpool instead eight years ago.
He called me as soon as we were drawn in the group stages together and we’ve already talked a lot about it.
We’ve talked a little bit about how Fulham fans feel about him and I think it’s a bit unfair to blame him. I know that in football, if a player changes his mind about joining a club at the last minute, supporters are going to be a little bit harsh about it.
Of course he was happy to go to Fulham, but when Liverpool came in the last minute, he felt it was the right choice and I think for him it was a good choice because he won a lot and went to two Champions League finals.
Whatever happens, it should be a special occasion. I don’t know how long we are going to stay over there when we go to Rome, or how long he will have when he comes here, but hopefully we can go and have dinner together after the matches.
Riise values the opportunity that the Europa League gives him to impress Roy Hodgson as it has proved difficult for him to break into a fairly settled Fulham team.
The Europa League is good for myself and other players who don’t play that much. I knew when I came that I couldn’t expect to play every game from the start. We have big players and it’s a big club and I have to fight for it and I know that.
But I like competition and I think if I stay here, it’s going to make me a much better player. I hope that in time, I can prove myself to Roy that I can be a first team player.
He’s confident of building on the win over Basel tonight.
It was good to start against Basel. It was a tough game for us, but now we have first place in the group. We beat Basel, who beat Roma, so we can probably beat Roma as well.