Matt Le Tissier
Le Tissier in 2010
|Full name||Matthew Paul Le Tissier|
|Date of birth||14 October 1968|
|Place of birth||Saint Peter Port, Guernsey|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Playing position(s)||Attacking midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Le Tissier spent his entire professional club career with Southampton and won eight caps for the England national team before turning to non-League football in 2002; his loyalty garnered special affection from Southampton's fans who nicknamed him "Le God".
A creative attacking midfielder with exceptional technical skills, Le Tissier is the second-highest ever scorer for Southampton behind Mick Channon and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1990. He was the first midfielder to score 100 goals in the Premier League. He is notable for his record at scoring penalty kicks – converting from the spot 47 times from 48 attempts – and is considered one of the greatest ever from the 12-yard spot.
Following his retirement as a player, Le Tissier became a football pundit, and worked as a panelist on the Sky Sports show Soccer Saturday until August 2020. In 2011, he became honorary president of Guernsey F.C.
In 2020, he was voted the Eurosport Best Premier League Player of All Time, in a vote in which many world-renowned Premier League footballers participated in, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry.
Le Tissier was born in Guernsey, a crown dependency, and played youth football on the island with Vale Recreation between the ages of seven and sixteen. At fifteen, he had a trial at English club Oxford United, but nothing came of it.
Signing for Southampton on YTS forms in 1985 and then signing professional forms in October 1986, Le Tissier made his club debut in a 4–3 defeat at Norwich City in the Football League First Division, and by the end of that season had scored six goals in 24 league games, including a hat-trick against Leicester City in the league. He scored his first two competitive goals in a League Cup third round replay at home to Manchester United on 4 November 1986, a game which Southampton won 4–1 and was Ron Atkinson's last in charge of the visitors, his sacking coming within 48 hours of the result. Le Tissier made 19 first team league appearances in 1987–88, failing to score, but in 1988–89, scored nine times in 28 league games.
He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year for the 1989–90 season, in which he was one of the league's top goalscorers with 20 goals as Southampton finished seventh in the First Division, the club's highest finish for five years.
Le Tissier's highest scoring league season was 1993–94, when he scored 25 league goals. The following season he won the Match of the Day Goal of the Season award for his drifting 40-yard chip against Blackburn Rovers, scoring against his long term friend, and former Southampton keeper, Tim Flowers.
Le Tissier's goal tally for the season regularly went well into double figures for the league alone throughout the 1990s, playing a major role in Southampton preserving their top flight status into the new millennium as they came close to relegation on five occasions in the first seven seasons of the Premier League – including one season when they only survived on goal difference. He was the subject of interest from many big clubs in England and overseas during this time, particularly from Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, but the transfer never happened and Le Tissier would ultimately remain a Southampton player until his retirement. In August 1995, Chelsea reportedly made a £10million bid for Le Tissier which would have made him the most expensive player in English football at the time. Shortly afterwards, defending league champions Blackburn Rovers were reportedly planning to sign him for a similar-sized fee.
On 2 April 2000, Le Tissier scored a last minute penalty for Southampton in a 2–1 defeat to Sunderland. This brought his tally of Premiership goals to 100, making him only the sixth player and first midfielder to reach this milestone.
He scored the last goal in the final competitive match played at The Dell on 19 May 2001, against Arsenal. This turned out to be his last goal for Southampton. He played several games for the club during 2001–02, the first season at the new St Mary's Stadium, in an eventual 11th-place finish. His final competitive appearance for the Saints came against West Ham on 30 January 2002. He announced on 29 March 2002 that he would retire from playing at the season's end after limping off with a recurrence of a calf strain during a reserve team game against Charlton.
His final match, a testimonial against an England XI in May 2002, ended in a 9–9 draw, with Le Tissier playing 45 minutes for each side, while his 10-year-old son Mitchell came on as a substitute in the second half, scoring four times.
Throughout his career, Le Tissier had a fearsome reputation for scoring from the spot, converting 47 of the 48 penalties that he took for Southampton. His sole failure to convert came on 24 March 1993 in a match against Nottingham Forest, his spot kick being saved by Forest keeper Mark Crossley, the feat being so unique that Crossley describes it as the save of which he is most proud.
After leaving Southampton, he had a two-season-long spell with non-league side Eastleigh, where he played alongside his former Southampton teammate David Hughes. He made his debut in a 3–0 victory over Newport (IOW) in the Hampshire Senior Cup in October 2002. He played his last match for the club early in August 2003, starring in the Hampshire Chronicle Cup Final second leg victory against Winchester City.
On 7 April 2013, ten years after retiring from football, Le Tissier announced he had come out of retirement and signed with his hometown club Guernsey. A number of fixture postponements meant that they had to play 17 league fixtures in a month, and Le Tissier announced that he would be able to play in four or five games, also saying he was unable to play Saturday games due to his job as a television pundit on Soccer Saturday. He made his debut for the club on 24 April, as a substitute for Ollie McKenzie, in a 4–2 defeat in their Combined Counties League Premier Division clash with Colliers Wood United. The fixture was his only appearance for the club.
Le Tissier chose to play for England, joining a relatively small group of players who were not born in the country, and earned eight caps over three years. Guernsey, although largely self-governing, does not have an official FIFA national team, which made Le Tissier eligible to play for England.
Le Tissier was picked by the then manager Terry Venables to start the ill-fated friendly match against the Republic of Ireland at Lansdowne Road, on 15 February 1995. With Ireland leading from a 22nd-minute goal by David Kelly, a group of England fans began to riot, causing the Dutch referee Dick Jol to abandon the match.
In the run-up to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Le Tissier scored a hat-trick in a 4–1 victory for England B against Russia B at Loftus Road; despite this, he was controversially overlooked by manager Glenn Hoddle for the final squad, a decision that the player himself cited as a turning point in his career after which his form never fully recovered.
Style of play
Le Tissier was a creative and technically gifted attacking midfielder, with an eye for goal, known for his ball striking, and ability to get into good attacking positions, in addition to his vision, and ability to create chances for teammates; these abilities also enabled him to play as a supporting striker on occasion, or even on the right wing, although this was not his favoured position. Despite his poor work-rate, and lack of notable pace or stamina, he was known for his excellent control, technique, balance, and dribbling skills, as well as his intelligence on the ball, and his use of tricks and feints, which allowed him to beat opponents. He was also known for his extreme accuracy on penalties.
Le Tissier had one of the hospitality suites at the St Mary's Stadium named after him. On the former site of The Dell, where apartment blocks are named after Southampton players, one is named Le Tissier Court.
After Southampton's relegation to level three in 2008–09, Le Tissier initially offered to help with a bid to take over the club, but later withdrew, amidst some controversy.
In September 2009, Le Tissier revealed in his autobiography that he had placed a spread bet on a match he was involved in during his playing career. During an April 1995 match at Wimbledon, Le Tissier stood to win "well into four figures" after betting on the time of the first throw-in. After kicking off, he tried to overhit a pass to unsuspecting teammate Neil Shipperley, but due to nerves, underhit it and Shipperley was able to keep the ball in play. Le Tissier revealed he had "never run so much" in his life as he tried to put the ball out of play to avoid losing money, with the ball eventually going out of play after 70 seconds, meaning Le Tissier and his associates neither won nor lost money. The event was investigated by Hampshire Police but the Crown Prosecution Service refused to take the case further, citing that it did "not represent appropriate use of police resources" and "would not be in the public interest".
In 2009, Le Tissier made an appearance on the Channel 4 game show, Countdown, as the Dictionary Corner guest, next to Countdown's resident lexicographer, Susie Dent. He would make 10 appearances over two spells in 2009 and 2010. On 28 September 2015, Le Tissier became the first former guest to become a contestant on the show. He won three shows, including scoring two centuries, before losing on his 4th appearance to John Hardie, who would reach the quarter-finals at the end of that series.
In August 2016, Le Tissier and ex-Southampton teammate Francis Benali announced that they had gone into business as football agents. Speaking about their joint business venture, Le Tissier commented that their aim was to provide "guidance and support on every aspect of a footballer's career – on and off the field". Benali added: "We've got a real passion for football and are keen to impart our experience and knowledge to help players make the right decisions for their careers. He was a long-term panellist on Sky Sports show Soccer Saturday until August 2020 when he was dropped.
In 2020, Le Tissier became an outspoken critic on the reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, with several tweets in which he criticised what he deemed to be an "overreaction" from the government and media, among others opposing lockdowns and mask orders. An image he posted on Twitter which implied a comparison between the Holocaust and having to wear masks during the pandemic was deleted.
Le Tissier married childhood sweetheart Cathy and had two children, Mitchell and Keeleigh. The couple divorced in 1997 and Cathy and the children moved back to Guernsey, after which he had a relationship with Home and Away and Emmerdale actress Emily Symons. All three of Le Tissier's brothers – Mark, Kevin and Carl – also played football, but never professionally. Mark is currently secretary of Guernsey FC.
|Club||Season||League||League||National Cup||League Cup||Full Members Cup||Total|
|Eastleigh||2002–03||Wessex Premier Div.||?||?||?||?||–||–||–||?||?|
|2003–04||Southern Lge. Eastern Div.||?||?||?||?||–||–||–||?||?|
|Guernsey||2012–13||C. Counties Premier Div.||1||0||0||0||–||–||–||1||0|
- PFA Young Player of the Year: 1989–90
- Southampton Player of the Season: 1989–90, 1993–94, 1994–95
- BBC Goal of the Month: October 1993, August 1994, December 1994
- Premier League Player of the Month: December 1994, October 1996
- PFA Team of the Year: 1994–95 Premier League
- BBC Goal of the Season: 1994–95
- English Football Hall of Fame: 2013
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On his day the mercurial midfielder-cum-striker can beat players for fun, score goals from seemingly impossible situations and display sheer brilliance.
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- G-JECT Withdrawn
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