Matt Le Tissier: ‘Le God’ of Southampton overlooked for England despite amazing scoring record – but he wasn’t the perfect saint

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FEW players in the history of the Premier League have boasted as much natural talent as Matt Le Tissier.

A one-club man, Le Tissier, nicknamed ‘Le God’, played 540 times for Southampton, scoring 209 goals, and stayed loyal to the Saints despite overtures from some of the biggest clubs in the game.

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Matt Le Tissier’s impact at Southampton was so big he was nicknamed ‘Le God’[/caption]

Indeed, had he joined one of the bigger teams there’s every chance he would have won more than the eight caps he did win for England.

While nobody could ever doubt his talent, the chief criticism levelled at Le Tissier was that of his work rate – or lack of it – but it wasn’t something that his former boss Dave Merrington was concerned with.

“People would say that Matt didn’t work hard enough,” he once reflected, “but they would overlook one thing: that he was a genius.”

Oxford’s loss was Southampton’s gain….

When he left school on the isle of Guernsey, aged 16, Le Tissier travlled to the mainland for a trial with Oxford United but they decided to pass on the youngster.

Le Tissier spent 16 years with Saints on the south coast

Enter Southampton who, a year later, recognised a rare talent lurking beneath his unnassuming persona.

He hit the ground running at The Dell and, in the 1989-90 season he plundered 20 goals in 35 games to claim the PGA Young Player of the Year award.

He scored goals that nobody could even dream about…

If you’re bored with watching videos of cats or drill music, just take a look at the Matt Le Tissier showreel on the internet.

It is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

Le Tissier, left, won PFA Young Player of the Year in 1990
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Le Tissier only scored bangers – and a load of penalties
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The striker ended up with 209 goals for the Saints
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He was nearly always spot on…

It wasn’t only the ludicrous goals he scored.

In his 16 years at Southampton, Le Tissier became known as one of the most prolific penalty takers in the game, scoring a remarkable 47 out of the 48 he took in all competitions.

Trivia question?

Who was the only goalkeeper to keep out a Le Tissier penalty?

Got it?

It was Nottingham Forest’s Mark Crossley. Some save too…

Le Tissier was a spot-kick specialist, missing just one in his career
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He was all too often overlooked on the international stage…

It’s one of the most mystifying matters in the modern game that a player so sublimely talented could only win eight caps for his country.

And, 21 years on since his last appearance for England, it’s still a mystery.

What made matters worse was that as a Channel Islander he could have played for any of the home nations where, you would think, he would have won 100 caps or more.

But no.

Instead he opted for England and after coming on a sub against Denmark in March 1994 it was just three short years before he played his final game for his country, a 1-0 defeat to Italy at Wembley.

What a waste.

Le Tissier playing in Peter Shilton’s testimonial in 1990
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This game for the Three Lions against Denmark was one of only eight caps he won
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… and that was that…

While Le Tissier was left out of the squad by Terry Venables for Euro 96, it was Glenn Hoddle disregarding him for the World Cup in 1998 that really hurt most, not least because he was in sparkling form.

In the run-up to the tournament in France, he had bagged a brilliant hat-trick against Russia in a 4-1 win for the England ‘B’ team but was still overlooked.

It hit hard.

Le Tissier form fell away and he never pulled on and England shirt again.

Terry Venables left him out of Euro 96 squad and Glenn Hoddle snubbed him for France 98

He very nearly got in bother with the law…

In his autobiography in 2009, Le Tissier admitted that he had a spread bet on a match he played in against Wimbledon in April 1995.

The plan was simple.

Le Tissier would bet on the time of the game’s first throw-in and then ensure that he kicked the ball out at the right time.

Straight from the kick-off Le Tissier tried to overhit a pass to Neil Shipperley and out of play but failed, allowing his teammate to control the ball.

They eventually got the ball out after 70 seconds meaning that they neither won nor lost their money, even though he stood to make thousands of pounds from the scam.

He almost got in trouble with the law due to a bet in a game
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Enter the Hampshire Police who looked into the matter but decided against a prosecution.

He didn’t do it again.

He liked an occasion…

When Southampton played their last ever game at their old ground, The Dell, against Arsenal in May 2001 it seemed pre-destined that Le Tissier would play a pivotal role.

Sure enough, with the game poised at 2-2, up popped the Saints’ star to lash home a spectacular volley in the last minute to give Southampton the win.

It would be Le Tissier’s last ever goal for the club.

Le Tissier scored the last ever game at Southampton’s The Dell ground in 2001
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He left the club the following season as a legend[/caption]

His trophy cabinet is all but bare…

He may have picked a few individual awards over the course of his career but Le Tissier didn’t win a single honour with Southampton.

But hey, who can forget that memorable runners-up medal in the Full Members’ Cup in 1992?

You know, when they lost 3-2 to Forest in the Final?

Pretty much everyone then.

But he was quite handy at Countdown…

Yes, Countdown.

Le Tissier not only appeared as the guest in dictionary corner in 2009 and 2010 but also played the game too, becoming the first guest to feature as a contestant when he played in 2015.

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Le Tissier, here with former team-mate Alan Shearer, was no stranger to the camera when he appeared on Countdown[/caption]

He was good too, winning three games on the spin before being knocked out at his fourth attempt.

He was a high flyer…

In February 2007, the airline Flybe named one of their aeroplanes after Le Tissier on his home island of Guernsey – but the aircraft was then taken out of service in July 2011.

Probably in favour of a harder-working but less talented model more suited to the demands of modern air travel.

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Le Tissier was named Honorary President of Guernsey FC in 2011[/caption]

And, in 2011, he accepted the position of Honorary President of Guernsey FC, his old club where his brother Mark is now the Chairman and General Manager.

He had some big name admirers…

While most right-minded football fans salivated at the thought of watching Le Tissier in full flow, it transpires that some of the game’s greatest players also fell under his spell.

Take this example, from none other than Barcelona and Spain legend Xavi.

“In Catalonia there used to be a half-hour programme every Monday where they’d show the best goals from the Premier League,” he recalled.

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Barca legend Xavi spoke about watching Le Tissier as a child[/caption]

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Now a Sky Sports pundit, Le Tissier is a legend of the game[/caption]

“Every week, Matt Le Tissier would be on the show. I’m talking outrageous, sickening goals.

“Straight in the top corner, left-foot flick and then right over a defender and score against Newcastle.

“We used to say: This guy, Le Tissier, is outrageous and he never goes to a big team.

“He stays at Southampton. It’s incredible. He could play for anyone. Our whole house was obsessed with him.”