Liverpool Football Club have seen countless talented players don their famous red shirt and walk out on the Anfield turf. While some have been fortunate enough to etch their names in history, others failed to make an impact and looked for a move elsewhere. As far as the supporters are concerned, some of the most heard names on their lips are Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Xabi Alonso, and Fernando Torres.
However, there are some players who might not have had the best time playing for the English giants but are doing extremely well for themselves. One such name is Albert Riera who is the current manager of the Slovenian side Olimpija Ljubljana.
Rings a bell? Liverpool fans? Many from the Reds fanbase might not recall this Spanish player playing for their team. Rolling back time to 2008, Riera made his move from Espanyol to Liverpool, a side then managed by Rafael Benitez. The wingback came at a price of 8 million euros and signed a 4-year deal with the club on the transfer deadline day that year. He came with some Premier League experience in his bag as he was on loan with Manchester City when Benitez secured his signature.
Riera did not take time to impress and got his first goal for his new team in the month of October against Wigan Athletic. He also opened the scoring for Liverpool in 2009 and was slowly but steadily showing signs of promise for the Reds. However, things did not go according to plans for Riera despite a noteworthy start to his Merseyside career. He quickly lost his first team spot and in 2010 faced a suspension for his comments on the Liverpool manager. He had accused Benitez of not trying to talk and sort the situation with him. The suspension and the tensions surrounding the player led to the end of his time at Liverpool as he opted to join Olympiacos that year after being transfer-listed.
Coming back to the present day, Riera has emerged as a prolific manager in his first stint as a head coach. Before joining Olimpija Ljubljana, the 41-year-old was the assistant in the dugout for Galatasaray, a side he was also a part of as a player. Despite his lack of experience, Riera did wonders for the Slovenian outfit as he guided them to victory in the Prva Liga. His side finished with 69 points at the top which is 15 more than Maribor who came second in the league.
Ljubljana also ended up with an impressive goal difference of 24 and netted 53 times under Riera’s guidance. Adding to the impressive season, the winners lost the least number of games (6) in the league which is certainly a thing to be proud of.
Looking at the start of his managerial adventures, one can expect that his time at the Slovenian Club would not be a short-term affair like it was at Liverpool in the late 2000s. Keeping in mind that football is highly uncertain and the fact that the team is currently struggling under Jurgen Klopp, one has the right to think of a situation that sees Albert Riera’s return to Anfield – this time as a coach. Only time will tell what is in store for Riera as he continues to grow as a manager with Ljubljana.