Le Tissier honoured by Bilbao

Matt Le Tissier (Supplied)
Matt Le Tissier (Supplied)

Madrid- Former England and Southampton forward Matt Le Tissier was honoured with a new "one-man club" award by La Liga's Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday.

Le Tissier, who retired as a player in 2002 after 540 appearances for Southampton and eight matches for England, received the award on the pitch at halftime in the Basque derby between Bilbao and Real Sociedad at the San Mames.

Footage of some of his memorable goals was relayed on the stadium's giant screen and a beaming Le Tissier got a standing ovation from the fans as he held the trophy aloft.

Now 46 and working as a television pundit, Guernsey-born Le Tissier scored 209 goals for Southampton during his 16 years at the club, including a remarkable 47 of 48 penalties, and is regarded as one of their greatest players.

"It's an honour for us that a player like Le Tissier comes here to inaugurate this new award," Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde said after meeting Le Tissier and his wife at the club's training facilities earlier on Tuesday.

"He was a spectacular player and we have been enjoying watching all the goals he scored in the 1990s," he added.

Bilbao, who play in the same red-and-white stripes as Southampton, are unique in Spanish soccer for only fielding players of Basque origin. Many of their players are recruited from the academy and spend their entire careers with the club.

"I am incredibly proud to be the first to receive this award," Le Tissier, who earned the nickname "Le God" as a player, said on Bilbao's website.

"My main reason (for staying at Southampton) was my personal happiness and contentment, something which I have always put first among other things," he added.

"That and the fact that I felt a loyalty to pay back Southampton for giving me the chance to achieve my dreams."

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