Southampton’s Matthew Le Tissier was the ‘Willy Wonka’ of English football. With his pronounced nose he appeared aesthetically oddball, but most of all it was the outrageous, unthinkable, and successfully bizarre things that he could make a football do that causes him to be so similar. In terms of physical make up he may have been pleasantly obscure, but as a football player he was as beautiful as the human mind can possibly imagine. For a special 16 years fans of the Saints must have felt like they had won the ‘golden ticket’… or anybody privileged enough to watch the genius play for that matter?
It is perfectly acceptable to use the term ‘Southampton’s Matthew Le Tissier’ because he was not shared with any other club. Remarkably he spent his entire career with the South Coast team, at times almost on his own he carried the expectations of the entire Saints faithful, season after season restoring their status as a top flight club. His legacy with Southampton is so lengthy that it even preceded the formation of the Premier League.
‘Le Tiss’ was 17 years old when he made his debut against Norwich in 1986. Although he took to top flight English football instantly it was the birth of the ‘Premiership’ in 1992 that the attacking midfielder began causing jaws to drop with his spell binding performances. In the first three season of the newly established Premier League he scored 60 goals. By the year 2000 he made history by becoming the first midfielder to bypass 100 Premiership goals. That accolade came with a penalty againstSunderland, and should never have been in doubt. Le Tissier was a master from the penalty spot and has a record that would cause a modest man to blush. Out of 48 attempts from the 12 yard spot Le Tissier only missed one. The sole goalkeeper to ruin a 100% strike rate was Forests Mark Crossley, a save which he attributes as his “best ever.”
His goal scoring record for the Saints stands at 209 goals in 540 first team appearances. But the attacking midfielder was not just a consistent goal scorer, he was a consistent scorer of ridiculously sexy goals. The best of which may well have been a swerving 40 yard lob against Blackburn that defied both the laws of gravity and the logic of standard trajectory. It was a goal that won him the 1995-95 Match of The Day ‘Goal of the season’ award. Some football fans may also remember trying to replicate his ‘flick up volley’ free kick in parks all over theUK?
Despite his domestic genius Le Tissier only played for his country 8 times. That figure represents a paltry amount compared to the number of times that fans would have wanted him to wear the three lions. But although not appreciated at International in England his football gift was recognised far wider.Barcelona’s Xavi can be quoted as saying, "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."
It would be surprising if you were to hear a bad word said about Le Tisser as a footballer. At worst some may label him as ‘lazy,’ but it wasn’t that, it was more that fact that the man made the game look so effortless. At times it was like he was smoking a large invisible cigar simultaneously. It is widely reported that Le Tissier won absolutely nothing during his career but, that statement is somewhat scandalous… he won the hearts of many, particularly the Saint’s fans that know him simply as “Le God.”
Here's a video of Le God's top 10 goals: