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By ESPN Staff

'I had to move abroad', reveals Roma's Riise

John Arne Riise has admitted he could not have played for another English club after leaving Liverpool.

The 27-year-old Norway international, who will line up for his country against the Republic of Ireland tonight, made a summer move to Roma after realising his chances at Anfield could be limited during the final year of his contract as manager Rafael Benitez strengthened his squad further.

He did so after rejecting the advances of a series of Premier League suitors.

Riise said: 'Clubs like Liverpool are always looking round the world for players, and there is always going to be someone new challenging you.

'It was sudden. One day I was a Liverpool player, the next I was going to leave.

'I just wanted to make sure I got the best possible club. There was no way I was going to be comfortable playing for another English club, and I had plenty of offers from other clubs in the Premier League.

'I didn't have to leave because I had another year left, but I did want to be playing regularly and I didn't feel that would happen this season if I stayed.

'I spent seven years at Liverpool and played more than 250 games. The challenge in Italy was the right one for my career and the time was right to change to another country.'

Riise's departure came as disquiet behind the scenes at Liverpool rumbled on with Benitez and the club's owners seemingly at odds at times.

However, the Norwegian is convinced the Reds are heading in the right direction.

He said: 'Of course there are problems between the owners and the manager, but hopefully they can resolve those problems and settle down.'

Whatever the differences behind the scenes, the manager was granted at least one of his wishes this summer when he landed £20million striker Robbie Keane from Tottenham.

The Ireland captain will find himself in direct competition with Riise and his defensive colleagues this evening, and the Molde-born player knows exactly what to expect.

He said: 'He is a fantastic player and a fantastic signing for the club.

'I knew he was a Liverpool fan from his childhood and this is the best move of all those he has had in his career. He could be the reason Liverpool will challenge for a title.

'Over the last couple of years, his work-rate has really improved and he is difficult to mark because he is always on the move.

'He is a good link-up player and a very very good finisher inside the box. He is a smart intelligent player and playing behind (Fernando) Torres could be very crucial.'

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