John Arne Riise has recalled the time he came face to face with a childhood bully in McDonald’s after winning the Champions League.
A couple of months after being a key part of a Liverpool side that came from 3-0 down against AC Milan to win an incredible final on penalties in Istanbul, Riise was back in his hometown of Molde.
He was near a local McDonald’s when he spotted a familiar face and decided to walk into the fast-food restaurant.
This individual had tormented Riise in his youth. Now, Riise was a Champions League winner and when he got the opportunity to get one over him, he took it – heading straight to the counter and placing an order.
“I was bullied when I was younger and that’s why I trained so much from being 12, 13 years old,” the Norwegian told SPORTbible.
“When I won the Champions League in 2005, in the summer holidays I went back to my home country to do some stuff and I remember walking past one of the bullies from when I was young.
“I saw he was wearing a McDonald’s t-shirt and thought, ‘Okay he might be working there’.
“He went to work. There’s nothing wrong with working at McDonald’s but this was my chance. I turned around and went into McDonald’s, pretended I didn’t know him and ordered a Big Mac.
“I made sure I went to his cashier. He said, ‘Next please!’. He looked up and I ordered a Big Mac. The look on his face just gave me everything.
“I didn’t have to say anything, I didn’t want a Big Mac. I paid, said ‘Thank you, have a nice day’ and walked out. I just knew, ‘He knows’. It was a great feeling.”
Riise is well-remembered by football fans for his sledgehammer of a left foot but in school he was anything but popular. Picked on and ostracised, being badly bullied spurred him on to achieve great things.
He added: “I was bullied at school, meaning that even if you were the best in sport you were always picked last. I knew I was the best but I was always picked last.
“When it was birthday parties for the class you would never get invited. I used that as extra motivation because I wanted to show people that I was good at something.
“I started running at 5:30 in the morning before school for an hour every day and then after school I trained with my team. At night before I went to bed I’d run as well.
“On average I did 20 or 21 sessions a week from when I was 13 until I was professional when I was 17 and went to Monaco.
“I was also standing outside of my house shooting for three, four or five hours a day, shooting a ball at a goal I made myself.
“I used that bullying and that feeling to make sure I was successful.”