|Birth Day:||February 20, 1971|
|Birth Place:||Lahti, Finland|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He debuted for Reipas in the Mestaruussarja in 1987 at age 16.
debut for Reipas in Finland's then top division Mestaruussarja at the age of 16 in 1987. After four seasons with Reipas he moved to HJK, Finland's ed MyPa, where he was coached by Harri Kampman, who later introduced him to his agent, the late Heikki Marttinen. Litmanen did not win any medals in the Finnish league, but he did win the Finnish Cup with MyPa in July 1992 in a 2–0 win over FF Jaro in the final at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. His performance in the cup final, including a goal, convinced a scout of Ajax that the club should sign him. "For me, he was the player," the scout later told Finnish television. His transfer took place during the same summer, and he did not complete the Finnish football season with MyPa.
Litmanen made his Finland debut on 22 October 1989 against Trinidad and Tobago, and scored his first goal on 16 May 1991 against Malta. Litmanen served as Finland's captain from 1996 to 2008, and was arguably their key player for more than a decade, helping the team to many unexpected victories against higher ranked opposition.
During 1992–93, his first season at Ajax, he played mostly in the reserves. The Ajax manager Louis van Gaal was apparently not overly impressed with him, but the team physiotherapist suggested using him as a stand-in for Dennis Bergkamp, who was injured at the time. Van Gaal liked what he saw, and knowing that Bergkamp was about to leave for Internazionale, he announced that Litmanen would be Bergkamp's successor, something that people in Litmanen's native Finland found difficult to believe. This turned out to be true, however, and he inherited from Bergkamp the famous number 10 shirt, which is often given to playmakers. He went on to score 26 goals in the 1993–94 season, becoming the league's top scorer, and leading Ajax to the title. He was also voted Footballer of the Year in the Netherlands in 1993.
Litmanen was one of the star players of Van Gaal's team that won three consecutive Dutch championships and reached the UEFA Champions League final twice in a row. From the beginning of the 1994–95 season to the middle of the 1995–96 season, Ajax went undefeated in both the Eredivisie (a run of 52 games) and the Champions League (19 games). When Ajax beat Milan in the 1995 Champions League final, Litmanen became the first Finnish player to win the European Cup/Champions League. In 1995–96, he was the Champions League top scorer with nine goals, including the equaliser in the final against Juventus, which Ajax lost on penalties. In 1995, he also won the Intercontinental Cup against Grêmio and came third in the voting for the Ballon d'Or (European Footballer of the Year), having finished eighth the previous year.
In 1999, Litmanen was reunited with Louis van Gaal at Barcelona, one of several former Ajax players recruited by Van Gaal in his time as manager. Litmanen's stint with the club was largely plagued by injuries. An article in The Observer in April 2000 likened him to Pope John Paul II, in that he was "making few appearances and looking more frail each time".
Litmanen made a good start at Liverpool but broke his wrist playing for Finland against England at Anfield in late March 2001 and missed the rest of the season. Although he was part of the Liverpool team that won the treble of the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001, he missed all three finals because of injury. The following season, he was used sparingly by Houllier but did score goals against Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Fulham in the Premier League and against Dynamo Kyiv, Roma and Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.
Litmanen's return to Finland, where he joined Lahti, was much hyped and was hailed as "the return of the king". Litmanen, however, moved to German Bundesliga strugglers Hansa Rostock in January 2005, but he was unable to prevent them being relegated, which ended his stint at the club.
Litmanen joined the Swedish club Malmö FF in July 2005 in an attempt to help them qualify for the Champions League. This attempt, however, failed, and Litmanen himself was injured during the whole of the autumn, only making a few appearances. He decided to continue his career with Malmö in 2006 but was again sidelined with a number of injuries for much of the season. However, the matches he did play showed he remained a brilliant player when fit. After an operation to repair a damaged ankle during the winter break, Malmö decided to extend his contract over the 2007 season, but an ankle injury suffered in June 2007 forced Litmanen to cancel it.
Litmanen became a father in November 2005 when his Estonian girlfriend Ly Jürgenson gave birth to a son named Caro. The couple's second son, Bruno, was born in September 2007. Although they avoid too much publicity, they are sometimes seen together in public.
Litmanen earned his 100th cap on 25 January 2006 against South Korea, one of only four Finns to have reached such a milestone, the others being Ari Hjelm, Sami Hyypiä and Jonatan Johansson.
In January 2008, Litmanen received a ten-day trial invitation from Fulham under former Finland manager Roy Hodgson, and was signed on 31 January 2008 together with fellow countryman Toni Kallio. Just weeks after signing with Fulham, Litmanen had to return to his native Finland to rest, after serious heart concerns.
Litmanen eventually made his debut for Fulham in a reserve-team match against Tottenham on 31 March 2008, but he was released in May of the same year without playing a single game for the first team.
On 8 August 2008, it was announced that Litmanen would join his former club Lahti of the Finnish Premier Division for the remainder of the 2008 season. Although he only played 34 minutes in his first match, he scored twice and provided the passes for two other goals. He played an important role in helping Lahti to finish third in the league and qualify for Europe for the first time in the club's history. He signed a new one-year contract with Lahti on 16 April 2009. Litmanen scored his first European goal for Lahti in a 2–0 win against Gorica in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, with the final aggregate score being 2–1. This was his 30th goal in 83 European matches. On 18 September 2010, he scored a bicycle kick goal against Oulu in a 2–1 away victory.
On 23 October 2010, he scored his 50th Veikkausliiga goal, but this happened in a 3–2 defeat against TPS and didn't stop the club from being relegated to Ykkönen.
When he played for Finland against South Korea on 19 January 2010, Litmanen became the only player ever to represent a national team in four different decades.
On 17 November 2010, Litmanen became the oldest player ever to score for Finland – and also the oldest player overall to score a goal in the qualifying stages for the UEFA European Championship – when he netted a penalty in an 8–0 win over San Marino, which proved to be his last international match.
On 10 October 2010, Litmanen became the first Finnish team sport player to be honoured with a statue: it stands at Kisapuisto (Lahti) where he started his career in the 1970s. The King – Jari Litmanen is a 2012 documentary film about Litmanen's career.
On 20 April 2011, Litmanen signed a one-year contract with the reigning Finnish champions HJK at age 40, making him one of the few footballers to play at professional level in four different decades (1980s–2010s). He usually started as a substitute and played for 10–30 minutes. The HJK coach Antti Muurinen described Litmanen as something akin to a "precision munition" for HJK. He played in this role on 24 September 2011 in the Finnish Cup final against KuPS, coming on in the 80th minute when the score was 0–0. During the second half of extra time, he scored a spectacular half volley to make it 1–0 to HJK in the 108th minute. They went on to win the match 2–1. This was Litmanen's first Finnish Cup final after winning it with MyPa in 1992. He commented that if he plays such a cup final every 19 years, he won't be playing many more in his career. On 2 October 2011, HJK secured their third consecutive Finnish championship, thus winning the Double. As of that day, Litmanen had played 18 matches for HJK that season, and they had won every single match in which he had been on the field. On 14 October 2011, this run ended when HJK drew 0–0 with JJK Jyväskylä.
On 29 October 2011, Litmanen celebrated his 200th league match by giving three assists in HJK's 5–2 home win over Haka. It was also his last game of the season and would prove to be the last of his professional career.
In February 2011, the sports news programme Urheiluruutu of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE interviewed two of Litmanen's former teammates about the possibility of his working for Ajax when he decides to end his playing career. Former Ajax captain Danny Blind said the following:
Jari Litmanen has confirmed in his autobiography that his professional career is over. He played his last professional game in 2011.
On 11 May 2020, Litmanen said to Unibet that his coronavirus test was positive, and he had been recovering for four weeks. He said of this time that "I've probably never been in such bad shape".
Currently, Jari Litmanen is 51 years, 3 months and 3 days old. Jari Litmanen will celebrate 52nd birthday on a Monday 20th of February 2023.
Find out about Jari Litmanen birthday activities in timeline view here.