Flair Icons #19: Matt Le Tissier

Matt Le Tissier

by Paz Bassra (@PazBassra)

Born: 14/10/1968, Guernsey (yes, really)

Clubs: Southampton (540 games, 210 goals in all competitions)

International: England (8 caps, 0 goals), England B (6 caps, 3 goals), England U21 (21 caps,
3 goals)

Xavi Hernández – “His talent was simply out of the norm. He could simply dribble past
seven or eight players but without speed – he just walked past them. For me he was
sensational”.

The tubby Le Tissier you see in Sky’s Gillette Soccer Saturday studio is as ineloquent
with the tongue in his mouth as he was elegant with the tongues on his boots. The lard-
arse link man and long range lobber was the playmaker-England-never-had. Choosing to
be a one-club man, and bisecting the Gazza and Sheringham eras, Le Tissier never got the
world recognition his talent deserved. For a player who singlehandedly kept a small club
like Southampton in the top tier for the majority of his 16-year career, Le Tissier is rarely
mentioned when it comes to Premier League XIs of the 1990s. Well that’s about to change.

He took a couple of years to fire up but once he got going in the first team he raged on. He
earned the mantle of England’s next hot prospect when he was voted the 1989/90 PFA Young
Player of the Year award on the back of 24 goals in 44 appearances. Le Tissier followed up
by maintaining a similar record in the next campaign with 23 goals in 43 appearances.

Le Tissier’s greatest period came in 1994/5 when he scored 30 goals, his highest ever return
for a season, in 49 appearances. This season saw him win the Match Of The Day Goal of
the Season award for a 40-yard lob versus Blackburn; all the sweeter because it was against
friend and former Southampton teammate Tim Flowers.

Le Tissier continued to singlehandedly save Southampton from the drop every season. His
spectacular goal return saw him become the 6th man to 100 Premier League goals (because,
as you all know, football began in 1992) and the first midfielder to do so. His goalscoring
exploits partly relied on his unerring nerve and technique from the spot. He converted 47
out of 48 throughout his domestic career. The one that was saved made Nottingham Forest
goalkeeper Mark Crossley a cult icon.

Le Tissier was done a disservice by the press and was tagged ‘lazy’ which caused much
damage to his England chances. He never recovered from the label and never received the
full caps his talent deserved. His international career will forever be remembered for a hat-
trick whilst playing for England B at Loftus Road in a 4-1 win over Russia B. Despite this,
Glenn Hoddle overlooked the laconic Le Tiss for the France ’98 squad. If any manager was
going to understand the lustrous Le Tissier it should have been Hoddle; a man known for
natural ability and not much else. England eventually fell to Argentina in a penalty shoot-out;
how ironic considering Le Tissier’s sizeable talent from 12 yards.

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