Noughties Nines: Henrik Larsson – Celtic’s King of Kings


Henrik Larsson was immortalised as ‘The King of Kings’ throughout an unforgettable profession at Celtic, one wherein the objectives flowed freely and trophy after trophy arrived at Parkhead.

Larsson’s contribution to the Celtic trigger etched his identify into the material of a singular establishment, an elite goalscorer who turned down overtures from Europe’s elite to spend the perfect seasons of his profession with The Bhoys.

Celtic have had no scarcity of membership legends, however there stays a particular place within the affections for Larsson, the membership’s King of Kings and probably the most formidable forwards of the noughties.


Larsson’s rise to anointed Glaswegian royalty took time and it was not till his mid-twenties that he would arrive in Scotland, having spent the formative seasons of his profession in his native Sweden earlier than an detached spell within the Netherlands.

Having made an impression with Högaborgs BK in Sweden’s decrease leagues, he signed for Helsingborg in 1992, changing into a full-time skilled at his hometown membership.

From the offset it turned clear Helsingborg had signed a expertise destined for larger issues, as Larsson’s objectives – 51 in 61 appearances throughout two seasons – fired the aspect into the highest division after a greater than two decade absence.

Feyenoord got here calling and secured the striker’s signing, however he struggled for kind and didn’t discover a sense of belonging in Rotterdam. A failure to search out his greatest place solely added to his frustrations, although successive KNVB Cup triumphs earned Larsson his first profession silverware.

The 1994 World Cup noticed Larsson characteristic for a Sweden aspect who overachieved to complete third, reaching the semi-finals earlier than defeat to eventual winners Brazil.

Larsson scored within the 4-0 win over Bulgaria within the third place play-off as Sweden secured their greatest end at a World Cup since dropping the 1958 closing on residence soil.

Because the late nineties arrived Larsson requested a transfer at membership degree, informing Feyenoord of his want to go away in quest of a brand new problem.

He signed for Celtic in a £650,000 deal after profitable a authorized dispute over a contract clause, arriving on the Scottish aspect decided to cease bitter rivals Rangers profitable a tenth title in succession.

The summer season signing began in forgettable vogue, making a mistake as Celtic crashed to defeat a Hibernian on the opening weekend of the season, earlier than scoring an personal aim on his European bow.

From there, nonetheless, it might be the beginning of a love-affair between the Swedish star and a partisan Parkhead crowd.

Larsson ended his debut season with 19 objectives in all competitions, scoring within the closing as Celtic received the Scottish League Cup in November. He ended the marketing campaign as Celtic’s main scorer, together with opening the scoring towards St Johnstone on the ultimate day of the season because the championship was secured.

It was a primary league title for the reason that 1988 centenary 12 months triumph and ended Rangers’ stranglehold in Scotland.

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Larsson had turn into a followers’ favorite and in 1998/99 he reached new ranges, scoring 38 objectives in all competitions regardless of Celtic ending the season with out silverware. Two objectives in a 5-1 thrashing of Rangers in November elevated his rising standing, however a stellar particular person marketing campaign got here with out staff honours.

His early seasons with Celtic noticed a lot upheaval, together with 4 managers in simply three seasons. Wim Jansen, Jozef Vengloš, John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish all took turns within the hot-seat, earlier than the arrival of Martin O’Neill sparked a brand new period of success.

Larsson had missed the vast majority of the 1999/2000 marketing campaign after sustaining a damaged leg, however returned beneath the brand new supervisor again to his sensible greatest.

Following the exit of Mark Viduka to Leeds, Celtic had secured the signing of Chris Sutton throughout the summer season and the £6m arrival from Chelsea proved the proper foil for the returning Larsson.

Sutton had fashioned an iconic understanding with Alan Shearer within the Premier League and shortly replicated that telepathy together with his Scandinavian strike associate,

“Chris Sutton was the perfect associate I ever had,” Larsson informed the Lockdown Ways Podcast.

A giant man with imaginative and prescient who knew the best way to play the sport. He was completely unselfish. He labored very laborious, by no means stopped working and he may rating objectives. It was straightforward to play with him. When he went up for a header, I simply needed to decide the place to run.”

Larsson and Sutton scored a aim every as Celtic started the season with a 2-1 win over Dundee United, earlier than a 6-2 humiliation of Rangers within the membership’s fifth recreation noticed the dovetailing duo star.

Every scored a brace as Celtic embarrassed their best rivals at Parkhead, racing right into a three-goal lead inside 11 minutes in probably the most memorable Outdated Agency outcomes of the fashionable period.

Larsson’s first was a second of magic. Accumulating Sutton’s lay-off he charged in the direction of the Rangers backline, evading two challenges earlier than lifting an unstoppable end into the highest nook.

Larsson ended the season with an astonishing 53 objectives in 50 appearances throughout all competitions, his 35 league objectives seeing the Swede win the European Golden Boot.

He scored a hat-trick within the League Cup closing win over Kilmarnock and two extra as Hibernian have been crushed within the Scottish Cup closing, sealing Celtic’s first home treble since 1967.

Celtic retained the title the next season with Larsson once more the league’s main scorer, earlier than the 2002/03 marketing campaign introduced an epic European enterprise.

O’Neill’s aspect had been crushed within the Champions League qualifiers by Basel on away objectives, however dropped into the UEFA Cup.

Larsson started their marketing campaign with a hat-trick as Lithuania’s FK Sūduva have been thrashed 8-1 in Glasgow, earlier than one other snug win within the return secured a tie with Blackburn Rovers.

Larsson’s aim earned Celtic a slim 1-0 win over the Premier League aspect within the residence leg, earlier than the Swede scored once more within the return, with Sutton additionally netting towards his former aspect to proceed the membership’s progress.

Celta Vigo – a tie wherein Larsson once more scored a decisive aim – and Stuttgart have been then eradicated to arrange an enormous all-British showdown with Liverpool.

Gerard Houllier’s aspect had received the UEFA Cup two seasons earlier and a 1-1 attract Glasgow made the Reds robust favourites, Larsson scoring the aim on his return from a damaged jaw.

Celtic received 2-0 at Anfield within the return to progress and a their place within the closing was assured after beating Boavista within the final 4, Larsson scoring in each legs towards the Portuguese aspect.

The ultimate proved an enthralling encounter as Celtic took on Jose Mourinho and FC Porto in Seville and it was once more Larsson who got here to the fore, twice heading in two excellent equalisers to pressure extra-time.

Porto – who would go on to win the Champions League the next season – prevailed 3-2, ending Celtic’s dream. It was Celtic’s most profitable run in Europe since their run to European Cup Last in 1970, and the primary time in 23 years that they’d remained in continental competitors past Christmas.

Larsson completed the season because the match’s second high scorer with 11 objectives and netted 44 in all competitions for Celtic, whose European exploits value the membership domestically because the title went to Rangers.

Larsson’s closing season introduced a home double and one other prolific marketing campaign, earlier than asserting his intention to go away Celtic after eight trophies, a file 5 Scottish Premier League Golden Boot awards, and 242 objectives in 312 video games.

Approaching his thirty third birthday and anticipated to return to his native Sweden, Larsson as a substitute signed for Barcelona on a free switch in a transfer that offered the veteran with an awaited probability at one among Europe’s elite.

He signed an preliminary one-year deal in Catalonia and noticed his first season disrupted with health points, however the Spaniards noticed sufficient to set off the extension.

It proved a sensible transfer as Larsson scored 15 objectives in all competitions, complimenting an all-star forged that included Ronaldinho – a person who named Larsson as his idol – and Samuel Eto’o.

His closing contribution was his best as he was launched from the bench with Barcelona trailing within the 2006 Champions League closing.

Struggling to interrupt down an Arsenal aspect lowered to 10 males, Larsson’s arrival turned the sport because the Swede created objectives for Eto’o and Julian Belletti to crown Barcelona champions of Europe.

He returned to Helsingborg and scored 54 objectives in 107 appearances throughout a second spell together with his boyhood aspect, although there was one closing chapter as Manchester United got here calling.

The Crimson Devils signed Larsson on a short-term mortgage deal as cowl throughout the 2006/07 season. He scored three objectives in 13 appearances as Sir Alex Ferguson’s aspect received the Premier League, including one other league title to the honours received in Scotland and Spain.

Larsson ended his profession considered one among Sweden’s best ever footballers, having scored 37 objectives in 106 appearances for the nationwide aspect.

He was a ahead who mixed a scientific contact with a selflessness usually missing in quantity nines, a keen runner with bravery, drive, and dedication.

Regardless of his extraordinary expertise, Larsson selected to spend the perfect seasons of his celebrated profession at Celtic and for that the membership’s followers will perpetually be grateful.

Learn – Noughties Nines: Andriy Shevchenko – Rossoneri royalty

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The put up Noughties Nines: Henrik Larsson – Celtic’s King of Kings first appeared on The Soccer Devoted. Supply –

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