Jari Litmanen was born in Lahti in 1971. He played in Lahden Reipas, HJK and MyPa. Abroad he played in Ajax, Barcelona, Liverpool, Hansa Rostock, and Malmö FF.
Once considered one of the best-attacking midfielders in the world, he became the first Finnish football superstar while playing for Ajax in the mid-1990s. In 1995 Ajax won the Champions League.
Jari Litmanen became the first Finnish team sports player to be honored with a statue. It stands at Kisapuisto (Lahti) where he started his career in the 1970s. The statue by sculptor Reijo Huttu was unveiled according to Litmanen's game number 10 on October 10, 2010.
The statue was met with strong opposition including the Finnish Association of Sculptors: "The player is clumsy, the relationships between body, head, and limbs do not match and the feeling of movement has not been achieved."
The following spring in 2011, the statue was subjected to vandalism. An attempt was made to burn the statue, its pedestal was dismantled, and it was stained with a white sticky substance that messed up the statue’s face. The statue was damaged in response to Litmanen's agreement with HJK.
The statue was taken for restoration and restored to its place in May 2012.