Henrik Larsson

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This article is about the Swedish footballer. For the Danish footballer, see Henrik Larsen.
Henrik Larsson
Henrik larsson snorsjoabalen 2007 1.jpg
Larsson in 2007
Personal information
Full name Henrik Edward Larsson[1]
Date of birth (1971-09-20) 20 September 1971 (age 42)[1]
Place of birth Helsingborg, Sweden
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[1]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Falkenbergs FF (manager)
Youth career
1977–1988 Högaborgs BK
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1988–1992 Högaborgs BK 64 (23)
1992–1993 Helsingborgs IF 56 (50)
1993–1997 Feyenoord 101 (26)
1997–2004 Celtic 221 (174)
2004–2006 Barcelona 40 (13)
2006–2009 Helsingborgs IF 84 (38)
2007 Manchester United (loan) 7 (1)
2012 Råå IF 1 (0)
2013 Högaborgs BK 2 (0)
Total 576 (325)
National team
1993–2009 Sweden 106 (37)
Teams managed
2009–2012 Landskrona BoIS
2013 Högaborgs BK (assistant)
2014– Falkenbergs FF
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Henrik Edward Larsson, MBE (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈhɛnrɪk ˈlɑːʂɔn]; born 20 September 1971) is a Swedish former professional footballer and current manager of Falkenbergs FF in Allsvenskan. He was known as an excellent striker whose main attributes were his goal scoring prowess and on-field intelligence.[2]

Larsson began his career with Högaborgs BK. He moved to Helsingborgs IF, where he was one of the key players when they won promotion to the Allsvenskan in 1993. Larsson then moved to Feyenoord for four years before leaving for Celtic in 1997. He won four league titles in seven years with Celtic, scoring a remarkable 242 goals in 315 competitive matches before moving to FC Barcelona in 2004, where he won two league titles and the 2006 Champions League. Following the expiration of his contract at Barcelona, Larsson returned to his hometown club of Helsingborg, and joined Manchester United on a brief loan between January and March 2007. He announced his retirement from football on 20 October 2009.[3]

Larsson played for Sweden in three World Cups and three European Championships and is a former captain of the national team. Larsson ended his international career with 37 goals in 106 matches.

Larsson has also played competitive floorball since 1989.[4]

Early life[edit]

Larsson was born in Helsingborg, Scania. His father, Francisco Rocha, is from Cape Verde,[5] and his mother, Eva Larsson, is Swedish.[6] His parents, who never married and split up when he was 12,[6] decided that he should take his mother's surname because they felt it would make it easier for their son to be accepted in Sweden.[7] He credits his father for his love of football.[6] His father gave him a football when he was 16 months old and as a child he was able to practice with brothers and friends on a large field near his home in Helsingborg.[8] He has said of his school years: "I experienced some racism, because back then it was unusual to have a dark kid at school, I was one of the few."[9] He watched English football on television and his parents gave him a video of Pelé's life story, both of which inspired him.[9]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Larsson began playing at lower-league Högaborg when he was six years old[9] and started his professional career playing for their senior team at the age of 17 whilst still at school.[10] On leaving school at 18, Larsson combined a semi-pro football career at Högaborg with work as fruit packer.[10]

In four years playing at senior level with Högaborg, Larsson scored 23 goals in 74 games. In 1992, second division side Helsingborg signed Larsson.[10]

Helsingborg[edit]

In his first year as a full-time professional, Larsson scored 34 goals for Helsingborg and his partnership up front with veteran striker Mats Magnusson helped the side win promotion to the top Swedish division, the Allsvenskan.[10] His star continued to rise the following year as he netted 16 goals to help Helsingborg to a respectable mid-table finish.[10]

Feyenoord[edit]

In November 1993, Dutch side Feyenoord signed Larsson for a fee of £295,000.[10] Larsson took time to adjust to working and living in a foreign country and could only muster a modest 6 goals in 27 appearances in his first season.[10] His goalscoring record improved in subsequent seasons, but he continued to be unsettled and frustrated by a combination of ever-changing coaches, being played in unfamiliar positions and latterly the club's player-rotation policy which saw him being substituted fifty or sixty minutes into a match even when playing well.[10][11]

Larsson won his first major winner's medal on 12 May 1994 when he played in the Feyenoord side that defeated N.E.C. 2–1 in the final of the KNVB Cup.[12] The following season, Larsson won his second winner's medal in the same tournament when Feyenoord won 2–1 against FC Volendam.[13]

In 1997 Larsson told manager Arie Haan that he wished to leave.[10] A bitter legal wrangle then ensued over a clause in his contract that Larsson claimed would allow him to be sold on if a fee of £600,000 was offered.[11][14] Larsson won his case, and in July 1997 he signed for Scottish side Celtic.[15]

Celtic[edit]

1997–2000[edit]

Following the contract dispute with Feyenoord, he was signed by Celtic manager Wim Jansen in July 1997 for a fee of £650,000.[15] In Larsson's Celtic debut against Hibernian at Easter Road, he came on as a late substitute. He inadvertently passed the ball to Hibernian player Chic Charnley who then went on to score, resulting in a 2–1 defeat for Celtic.[16] He scored an own goal in his first European game,[17] although Celtic did go on to win 6–3 against Tirol Innsbruck.[18] After his poor start to the season he went on to score 18 goals in all competitions,[19] and was Celtic's top scorer for the season. Initially Larsson played the role of support striker alongside Darren Jackson, Simon Donnelly and later Harald Brattbakk. In November 1997 Larsson won his first medal for the club with a 3–0 win over Dundee United at Ibrox Stadium giving Celtic the Scottish League Cup. Larsson scored Celtic's second goal in the game.[20] On the final day of the league season, he scored the opener with a powerful shot from 20 yards out in a 2–0 win against St. Johnstone to clinch the championship for Celtic.[20] It was the club's first league championship win since the double winning season 1987–88 and stopped Old Firm rivals Rangers from breaking Celtic's record of nine titles in a row.[21]

Larsson's second season with the club saw a change in management with Jozef Vengloš taking the Parkhead hotseat following Wim Jansen's resignation.[22] The 1998–99 season proved ultimately disappointing as Celtic finished runners up to rivals Rangers in both the newly established SPL[23] and in the Scottish Cup.[24] During this season Larsson also made the scoresheet for the first time in an Old Firm match chalking up a brace in a 5–1 victory in November[25][26] and scoring the equaliser in the 2–2 New Year's Day match at Ibrox Stadium.[27] Throughout the season Larsson forged a mutually prolific partnership with diminutive Slovak playmaker Ľubomír Moravčík.[28] The season however did mark the player's coming of age as a goal scorer. Playing in a more advanced striker's role Larsson notched up 38 goals[19] ending the season as both Celtic and Scotland's top goal scorer.[29] He was also awarded the honours of SPFA Players' Player of the Year, SFWA Footballer of the Year[30] and Swedish Footballer of the Year.[31]

The 1999–2000 season saw another change in management for Celtic. Former Liverpool and England winger, John Barnes replaced Vengloš to become manager at the club.[32] The season started very brightly for Larsson as he notched up eight league goals in just nine games for the club.[32] During Celtic's 1–0 defeat in a UEFA Cup tie against Lyon on 22 October 1999, Larsson suffered a career-threatening injury, breaking his leg in two places in a challenge with Serge Blanc.[33] This resulted in him spending eight months on the sidelines,[34] only returning on the last day of the 1999–2000 season. John Barnes cited Larsson's injury as being a significant factor in his sacking by Celtic after only months in the position.[35] It was initially feared that Larsson had suffered a compound leg fracture, an injury which would normally result in an even longer absence – or possibly even end his professional career – but X-rays soon revealed that the injury wasn't as serious as originally feared.[36] By the time Larsson had completed his rehabilitation John Barnes had been sacked and replaced by Director of Football Kenny Dalglish as interim manager.[37] Larsson made his comeback with a substitute appearance against Dundee United at Celtic Park on the final day of the SPL season.[38]

2000–2003[edit]

Following the arrival of Martin O'Neill in the summer of 2000,[39] Larsson had his most successful season for Celtic. He forged a prolific partnership with new arrival Chris Sutton[40] as he scored 35 league goals in 38 league games to become SPL top goalscorer and to win the European Golden Shoe.[41] The season saw Celtic lift the domestic treble of the Scottish League Cup, Scottish Cup and the Scottish Premier League.[42] Larsson scored a hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Kilmarnock at Hampden Park to win the Scottish League Cup,[43] the first non-Scot to do so in a Cup Final in Scotland.[44] He also scored a brace in the Scottish Cup in a 3–0 win over Hibernian.[42] Other highlights for Larsson included a double against Rangers in the 6–2 win at Parkhead early in the season,[45][46] and scoring his 50th goal of the season against Rangers at Ibrox in a 3–0 victory towards the end of the season[47] and finishing the season with a total of 53 goals in all competitions.[19] He was again voted SPFA Players' Player of the Year as well as SFWA Footballer of the Year.[30] Rangers manager Dick Advocaat said "Larsson is one of the best strikers in Europe, maybe the world. If you watch Batistuta, he is sometimes not seen for 90 minutes but he scores two goals. Larsson has even more, because, besides being a good player and goalscorer, he has a tremendous work rate."[48]

Larsson's fifth season at the club yielded a second consecutive SPL title for the club.[49] It also marked the club's first foray into the UEFA Champions League group stage. Larsson scored his first Champions League goal with a penalty in Celtic's opening fixture in a controversial 3–2 defeat to Juventus in Turin.[50] He scored again for Celtic in the Champions league campaign with the solitary goal in a 1–0 victory over Porto[51] and again from the penalty spot against Juventus in a thrilling 4–3 victory at Celtic Park.[52] Despite achieving a Scottish record of nine points in the group stage, Celtic failed to qualify for the latter stages and parachuted into the UEFA Cup. The club were drawn against Valencia with Larsson scoring the second leg goal to take the tie into penalties which Celtic eventually lost.[53] Larsson once again ended the season as SPL top goalscorer with 29 goals from 33 league appearances.[54][55]

The 2002–03 season saw the club reach the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.[56] After losing out on a place in the UEFA Champions League following an away goals defeat to Basel,[57] Celtic dropped into the UEFA Cup. In the first round Celtic were paired with Lithuanian side Suduva with Larsson scoring a hat-trick in the 8–1 first leg victory[58] as they progressed 10–1 on aggregate after adding a 2–0 away win.[59] The second round saw former Rangers player-manager Graeme Souness' Blackburn Rovers side visit Celtic Park in a matched dubbed The Battle of Britain.[60] Celtic came went into the second leg at Ewood Park 1–0 up courtesy of a late Larsson goal.[61] After comments from the Blackburn players in the media who felt their team deserved to win, claiming that the tie was "like men against boys",[62] Larsson scored the opening goal in a 2–0 away win.[63] The following rounds saw Celtic see off Celta Vigo 2–2 on away goals[64] and VfB Stuttgart 5–4 on aggregate.[65] Larsson missed both ties with VfB Stuttgart following a broken jaw after a collision with Gustave Bahoken in an SPL match against Livingston,[66] but he returned from injury in time for Celtic's Battle of Britain II quarter-final clash with 2001 winners Liverpool.[67] Celtic defeated Liverpool 3–1 on aggregate[68] with Larsson scoring the opener in a 1–1 draw at Celtic Park.[69] Celtic followed that up with a 2–0 victory at Anfield to clinch the tie.[68]

Celtic met Portuguese side Boavista in the semi-final.[70] Boavista took the advantage on away goals after a 1–1 draw in the first leg, in which Larsson scored the equaliser after missing a penalty.[71] In the second leg Larsson struck for Celtic after a one-two with John Hartson with only ten minutes remaining. The goal sent Celtic through to their first European Final since 1970.[72] The final in Seville against Porto saw Larsson equalise twice for Celtic with two headers, although the Scottish club eventually lost 3–2 after extra time.[56] Larsson also finished runner-up to Porto's Derlei in the competition's goalscoring charts. Larsson described the pain of the defeat as being the worst moment of his career, including his leg break, which he suffered against Lyon when challenging for the ball against Serge Blanc in 1999.[73] More disappointment followed as Celtic finished up runners up to Rangers on the last day of the SPL season by only a single goal on goal difference.[74] 2003 also saw Larsson voted as the Greatest Swedish Footballer of the Last 50 Years as part of the UEFA Jubilee Awards.[75] He also finished the season again the top SPL goalscorer with 28 goals from 35 games.[54][55]

2003–2004[edit]

Henrik Larsson before kick-off at the John Kennedy testimonial match

Larsson's seventh and final season for Celtic saw the club lift the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Cup titles.[76]

After parachuting from the UEFA Champions League, Celtic also managed to reach the UEFA Cup quarter finals, eliminating Barcelona on the way[77] before losing 3–1 on aggregate to Villarreal CF.[78] Larsson scored his only UEFA Champions League goal of the season against Anderlecht in a 3–1 win at Celtic Park.[79] He added to his European goal tally with a double in a 3–0 UEFA Cup third round victory over Teplice,[80] and the equaliser in a 1st leg quarter final tie at Celtic Park versus Villarreal after earlier having a goal disallowed for handball (the match ended 1–1).[81] This was Larsson's final European goal for Celtic.[82]

Celtic defeated Rangers in all five Old Firm fixtures that season.[83] Larsson's final Old Firm goal came in a 1–0 Scottish Cup win at Parkhead.[84] His final competitive game at home for Celtic came in a league match against Dundee United on 16 May 2004, and he scored both goals as Celtic won 2–1.[85] In his last competitive appearance for Celtic, he scored two goals to defeat Dunfermline Athletic on 22 May 2004 at Hampden and win the 2004 Scottish Cup Final.[76]

He was also voted Swedish Footballer of the Year for the second time for his performances throughout the 2003–04 season.[31]

Summary[edit]

In his seven years at Celtic, Larsson won four SPL titles, two Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Cups. He was the top goalscorer in the Scottish Premier League for five of the six seasons that he competed in, the only exception being the 1999–2000 season, most of which Larsson missed due to a severe leg break suffered in Lyon. Larsson was also a consistent goalscorer in international competition. He scored two goals in the 2003 UEFA Cup Final, although Portuguese opponents FC Porto went on to win 3–2. Celtic fans selected Larsson (the only player from outside Scotland) in the greatest ever Celtic team, when a vote was held in 2002.[86]

He played a testimonial match on 25 May 2004 against Sevilla FC in front of a capacity crowd at Celtic Park, Glasgow.[87]

In all, Larsson scored 242 goals for Celtic in 315 matches and left the club as the SPL's all-time leading goalscorer with 158 goals. This record stood until 30 December 2009, when it was surpassed by Rangers' Kris Boyd.

Guest appearances[edit]

Since leaving Celtic Park in June 2004, Larsson has returned to play for Celtic in testimonial matches three times. The first was in May 2005, for Jackie McNamara's testimonial against Ireland,[88] which Celtic lost 1–0, with Robbie Keane scoring the only goal.[89] His second guest appearance was in May 2008 for the Phil O'Donnell memorial match. Larsson played as part of the Celtic 1998 championship-winning side against the Motherwell 1991 Scottish Cup winning side. The match was played in memory of Larsson's former teammate Phil O'Donnell, who died earlier in the season in a match for Motherwell against Dundee United. Larsson, who scored an overhead kick in the 5–1 victory for Celtic, left Sweden's national training camp early to take part in the game.[90] The third was on 9 August 2011, when Larsson played for the Celtic Legends against the Manchester United Legends for John Kennedy's testimonial. He scored a hat-trick and made a further assist for Bobby Petta as the Celtic side came back from 2–0 down to win 5–2.[91]

Barcelona[edit]

Larsson warming up for Barça

At the end of the 2003–04 season Larsson left Celtic on a free transfer and signed a one-year contract with FC Barcelona with an option for a second year.[92] Larsson played only a nominal part in Barça's La Liga win in his first season at Barcelona. He scored three goals in 12 Liga games and one goal (against his former club Celtic)[93] in four UEFA Champions League matches. After the game against Celtic he said "It was very difficult for me to celebrate my goal because I had so many great times here."[94] On 20 November 2004, during the 3–0 victory in the derby versus Real Madrid, Larsson tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee.[95] Despite having missed most of the 2004–05 season, Barcelona took the option to extend his contract.[96]

Larsson playing for Barcelona against Deportivo

In December 2005, Larsson announced that at the end of his contract, which ended in July, he would leave Barcelona and return to Sweden to end his career. He revealed that he had refused an offer by club president Joan Laporta to extend his contract to the end of the next season.[97] On the announcement of his departure, Ronaldinho said[98]

With Henrik leaving us at the end of the season this club is losing a great scorer, no question. But I am also losing a great friend. Henrik was my idol and now that I am playing next to him it is fantastic.

In Larsson's final game for Barcelona, he won his first UEFA Champions League medal. Larsson came on as a substitute and assisted both of Barcelona's goals in a 2–1 win over Arsenal. Thierry Henry paid tribute to Larsson's contribution to Barcelona's win after the game, saying, "People always talk about Ronaldinho, Eto'o, Giuly and everything, but I didn't see them today, I saw Henrik Larsson. He came on, he changed the game, that is what killed the game. Sometimes you talk about Ronaldinho and Eto'o and people like that; you need to talk about the proper footballer who made the difference, and that was Henrik Larsson tonight."[99] Indeed his ability to give Barcelona the cutting edge required to overcome Arsenal was noted by the international press.[100][101] In 2005–06 Larsson scored 10 goals as Barcelona won La Liga for a second consecutive year.

Helsingborg[edit]

After Sweden's elimination from the 2006 World Cup on 24 June 2006, Larsson joined up with his former club, Helsingborg.[102] He made his second debut for his home town club against Hammarby in the Swedish Cup on 6 July 2006. Helsingborg went on to win the competition, defeating Gefle 2–0 in the final on 11 November 2006, earning Larsson another medal.[103] Larsson's eight league goals in 15 appearances[104] also helped his team to a fourth place finish in the Swedish League.[105] This successful season earned Helsingborg a slot in the following season's UEFA Cup.

Loan to Manchester United[edit]

Shortly after rejoining Helsingborg, Larsson was signed on loan by Manchester United from 1 January until 12 March 2007, coinciding with the Swedish League's off season.[106] He scored on his debut against Aston Villa in the FA Cup Third Round on 7 January 2007 at Old Trafford.[107] Larsson scored his first ever Premier League goal on 31 January in a 4–0 win over Watford.[108]

While United were eager to extend the loan deal, Larsson stated that he had made a promise to his family and his club to return on 12 March. This was confirmed on 20 February, when Larsson announced that he would not be extending his loan period.[109] Despite this, Sir Alex Ferguson was full of praise for the striker, who scored three goals in 13 matches in all competitions during his three-month stay,[110] saying, "He's been fantastic for us, his professionalism, his attitude, everything he's done has been excellent."[111] "We would love him to stay but, obviously, he has made his promise to his family and Helsingborg and I think we should respect that – but I would have done anything to keep him."[110] Larsson scored Manchester United's only goal in their win against Lille OSC at Old Trafford in the UEFA Champions League.[112] He made his final appearance for United on 10 March in an FA Cup sixth round tie away to Middlesbrough, ending in a 2–2 draw.[113]

Manchester United won the Premier League two months after Larsson had left the club, and although he had not played the required quota of 10 league games to qualify for a Premier League winners medal, he,[114] alongside Alan Smith, was granted special dispensation by the Premier League after the club requested extra medals for the two.[115]

His last appearance at Old Trafford in fact came against United, a few days after his loan with the club expired, as captain for a Europe XI team in the UEFA Celebration Match.[116][117] Larsson received a standing ovation from the home fans upon being substituted by Liverpool player Robbie Fowler.[118]

Return to Helsingborg[edit]

After leaving Manchester United in March 2007, Larsson resumed his career with Helsingborg. Larsson helped the club through the preliminary stages of the UEFA Cup, where Larsson scored twice against Estonian side Trans Narva and once against League of Ireland side Drogheda United.[119] The first round proper of the UEFA Cup that season saw a high-scoring tie between Helsingborg and Heerenveen, Larsson's side lost 5–3 in the Netherlands on 20 September 2007 with Larsson scoring twice. The return leg in Sweden on 4 October 2007 saw Helsingborg win 5–1, Larsson again scoring, to win the tie 8–6 on aggregate and qualify for the group stage.[120] Helsingborg progressed from the group stage, with Larsson scoring against Panionios, Austria Vienna and Bordeaux, and they qualified for the Round of 32 where they lost 1–4 on aggregate to PSV Eindhoven in February 2008.[120] Helsingborg could not match their league performances of the previous year, and finished in eight place in the Swedish League in 2007.[121] Helsingborg also failed to retain the Swedish Cup, losing 1–2 to BoIS in the fourth round in June 2007.[122]

The 2008 Allsvenskan saw Larsson produce his best league goalscoring tally since returning to Sweden, with his 14 goals[123] helping Helsingborg to fourth place[124] and qualification in 2009–10 for the rebranded 'Europa League' (formerly UEFA Cup).

During July 2009, Larsson scored three goals in the Europa League qualifying ties against Eastern European minnows FC Mika and Zestaponi.[125] He broke his knee-cap during the first leg of the next qualifying round against FK Sarajevo on 30 July 2009[125] and was out for an estimated eight weeks. Some reports at the time suggested that this in fact was the end of his playing career, with this injury also coming on top of the recent death of his younger brother, Robert. However, he returned to the first team on 16 September 2009, coming on as a substitute in a 1–3 defeat against IFK Göteborg in the Swedish Cup,[126] and then on 24 September 2009 in his first start since returning from injury, he scored two goals, including the winner, against league rivals AIK.[126]

Retirement[edit]

On 20 October 2009, Larsson announced his retirement from playing at the end of the 2009 Allsvenskan.[3] The announcement followed a previous statement from the player declaring his intention to retire from international duty. Larsson had also stated his desire to move into coaching and expressed his intent to study for coaching badges in Scotland under the SFA system.[127] The announcement quickly sparked rumours of a return to Celtic as manager, even going so far as to suggest a link up with former Celtic team mate Ľubomír Moravčík as his assistant.[128]

Further speculation began on 21 October 2009 as Larsson discussed the possibility of taking up floorball on a full-time basis,[129] as he had previously played floorball with FC (Floorball Club) Helsingborg during the football close season.

He took to the pitch for the last time in Helsingborg's 2–0 Swedish League loss to Djurgårdens IF on 28 October 2009, and was given a standing ovation from the crowd.[130][131][132]

He participated in the Soccer Aid football match at Old Trafford on 6 June 2010 for the Rest of the World team in aid of UNICEF.[133]

Larsson made a promise that at the end of his football career, he would play one season at his first club Högaborgs BK. When he retired at the end of the 2009 season, that promise was not fulfilled. However, in August 2010, Larsson played with Högaborg's veterans team and scored 16 goals in five games.[134]

For three seasons, from 2010 to 2012, he was manager of Swedish second-tier club Landskrona BoIS.[citation needed]

In August 2012, Larsson came out of retirement for a brief spell at Swedish fifth division (Division 3) side Råå IF.[135] He made one appearance, coming on as a substitute in a league match on 22 September 2012, a 1–1 draw against Höganäs BK.[136]

Larsson then registered as a player with Högaborgs BK's senior-recreational side and played games with them. Due to the many injuries, Larsson was included in the first-team squad that beat Tenhults IF with 4–2 on 19 June 2013. He came off the bench in the 85th minute, and played alongside his son Jordan.[137][138][139] At the age of 42, Larsson took part in a further league match for Högaborg on 26 October 2013 when he played the first 66 minutes in a 2–0 win over IF Haga.[140][141]

Prior to the 2014 season, Larsson became manager of Falkenbergs FF, a newly promoted Allsvenskan club making their debut in the Swedish top flight.[citation needed]

International career[edit]

Larsson scored 37 goals in 106 games for Sweden. He scored his first international goal in his debut on 13 October 1993, during the World Cup Qualifications stage, in a 3–2 win against Finland.[10][142]

Sweden manager Tommy Svensson selected Larsson for his 22 man squad for the USA 1994 World Cup squad,[10] alongside established forwards such as Tomas Brolin, Kennet Andersson and Martin Dahlin. Larsson began Swden's first game of the tournament, against Cameroon, on the bench but came on as a substitute with Sweden trailing 1–2. Larsson struck a fierce, long-range shot against the crossbar, with Dahlin reacting quickly to score the rebound to give their country a 2–2 draw.[10] He then played from the start in the next game, against Brazil, but returned to the substitutes bench for the matches against Russia and Saudi Arabia.[10] He then came on a substitute in the quarter-final tie against Romania. The match finished 2–2 after extra time, with Sweden winning on penalties, one of which was scored by Larsson.[10] Larsson didn't feature in Sweden's 0–1 defeat against Brazil in the semi-final, but did play in the third-place play-off against Bulgaria which Sweden won 4–0, including Larsson's first World Cup goal; latching onto a through ball from Brolin before rounding the Bulgarian goalkeeper Borislav Mikhailov and wrong-footing defender Trifon Ivanov.[10] That win secured third-place at the 1994 World Cup for Sweden, their best showing in a tournament since finishing runner-up to Brazil in 1958.[143]

Larsson became a regular in the side after that, playing in six of his country's qualifiers for Euro 1996. However he did not score in any of these games and Sweden failed to qualify for the finals.

Sweden also failed to qualify to the 1998 World Cup, but succeeded in qualifying for Euro 2000 with Larsson scoring 3 goals during the qualifying games. Larsson was selected for the Sweden squad despite having only just recovered from a broken leg sustained playing for Celtic.[144][145] Euro 2000 was not a great success for Sweden, who went out at the first group stage, but Larsson impressed by scoring against Italy in a 1–2 defeat.[146]

Sweden reappeared on the global stage two years later at the 2002 World Cup. Larsson helped guide Sweden out of the group of death and into the knockout round with a 2–1 win over Nigeria in which he scored both goals.[147] He then scored in the round of 16 match against Senegal, though Sweden ended up losing 1–2 in extra time to a golden goal and were eliminated.[148]

Larsson in Euro 2004

Larsson originally chose to retire from International football after that World Cup. His decision was met with dismay in Sweden and there was much clamoring for him to return to the team for their campaign at Euro 2004 in Portugal.[149] Despite initially maintaining his decision to retire, he eventually agreed to return to the national side for Euro 2004.[150] Playing up front alongside Zlatan Ibrahimović, Larsson scored three goals in four matches and lead Sweden to the quarter-finals, where they were defeated in a penalty shootout by the Netherlands. Larsson's diving header against Bulgaria was voted best goal of the tournament.[151]

Larsson also featured at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He scored in the final minute of the match against England for Sweden to draw the match 2–2 in their final game in the group stages,[152] becoming only the sixth player ever to score in three World Cup finals. The goal sealed Sweden's qualification for the second round of the tournament. In Sweden's last 16 game against hosts Germany, Larsson missed a penalty and Sweden went out with the score at 2–0 to Germany.[153]

He retired from international football for the second time on 17 July 2006.[154] "It is time to quit now. It feels right. I'm done with the national team", the 34-year-old Larsson told TV station Canal Plus. However, Sweden boss Lars Lagerbäck managed to lure Larsson out of international retirement once more and on 13 May 2008, the Swedish FA officially declared that Larsson had agreed to make a comeback and play for Sweden once again at Euro 2008.[155]

Following former team captain Fredrik Ljungberg's decision to quit the national side after the tournament, Larsson was chosen to become the new captain in a friendly match against France on 20 August 2008,[156] He scored his 37th goal for Sweden in that game, although France ended up winning 3–2.[157] He played his 100th game for Sweden on 6 September 2008, in a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Albania, which ended in a 0–0 draw.[158]

On 11 October 2009, Larsson once again decided to retire from the national team.[159]

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Sweden's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 13 October 1993 Råsunda, Stockholm  Finland 2–1 3–2 1994 World Cup qualifier
2 20 February 1994 Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami  United States 1–1 3–1 Joe Robbie Cup
3 20 April 1994 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Wales 1–0 2–0 Friendly
4 5 May 1994 Råsunda Stadium, Stockholm  Nigeria 2–0 3–1 Friendly
5 16 July 1994 Rose Bowl, Pasadena  Bulgaria 3–0 4–0 1994 World Cup
6 17 August 1994 Råsunda, Stockholm  Lithuania 4–2 4–2 Friendly
7 1 June 1996 Råsunda, Stockholm  Belarus 5–1 5–1 1998 World Cup qualifier
8 14 October 1998 Neftochimik Stadium, Burgas  Bulgaria 1–0 1–0 Euro 2000 qualifier
9 27 March 1999 Ullevi, Gothenburg  Luxembourg 2–0 2–0 Euro 2000 qualifier
10 9 October 1999 Råsunda, Stockholm  Poland 2–0 2–0 Euro 2000 qualifier
11 19 June 2000 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven  Italy 1–1 1–2 Euro 2000
12 7 October 2000 Ullevi, Gothenburg  Turkey 1–0 1–1 2002 World Cup qualifier
13 28 February 2001 Ta' Qali National Stadium, Ta'Qali  Malta 2–0 3–0 Friendly
14 6 June 2001 Ullevi, Gothenburg  Moldova 1–0 6–0 2002 World Cup qualifier
15 2–0
16 3–0
17 6–0
18 15 August 2001 Råsunda, Stockholm  South Africa 1–0 3–0 Friendly
19 1 September 2001 City Stadium, Skopje  Macedonia 1–0 2–1 2002 World Cup qualifier
20 5 September 2001 Ali Sami Yen Stadium, Istanbul  Turkey 1–1 2–1 2002 World Cup qualifier
21 7 October 2001 Råsunda, Stockholm  Azerbaijan 2–0 3–0 2002 World Cup qualifier
22 7 June 2002 Kobe Wing Stadium, Kobe  Nigeria 1–1 2–1 2002 World Cup
23 2–1
24 16 June 2002 Ōita Stadium, Ōita  Senegal 1–1 1–2 2002 World Cup
25 5 June 2004 Råsunda, Stockholm  Poland 1–0 3–1 Friendly
26 14 June 2004 Estádio José Alvalade, Lisbon  Bulgaria 2–0 5–0 Euro 2004
27 3–0
28 22 June 2004 Estádio do Bessa Século XXI, Porto  Denmark 1–1 2–2 Euro 2004
29 4 September 2004 Ta'Qali National Stadium, Ta'Qali  Malta 7–0 7–0 2006 World Cup qualifier
30 9 October 2004 Råsunda, Stockholm  Hungary 2–0 3–0 2006 World Cup qualifier
31 13 October 2004 Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavík  Iceland 1–0 4–1 2006 World Cup qualifier
32 3–0
33 17 August 2005 Ullevi, Gothenburg  Czech Republic 1–0 2–1 Friendly
34 12 September 2005 Råsunda, Stockholm  Iceland 2–1 3–1 2006 World Cup qualifier
35 2 June 2006 Råsunda, Stockholm  Chile 1–0 1–1 Friendly
36 20 June 2006 RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne  England 2–2 2–2 2006 World Cup
37 20 August 2008 Ullevi, Gothenburg  France 1–0 2–3 Friendly

Management career[edit]

Larsson made clear his intentions to take up coaching once his playing career came to an end, having also expressed an interest in returning to Celtic in a coaching capacity.[160]

Landskrona BoIS[edit]

On 14 December 2009 Larsson was appointed manager at Landskrona BoIS[161] a Swedish second division football club and signed a one-year contract.

However, the news that Larsson would take over Landskrona was received with mixed feelings, as his former club Helsingborgs IF traditionally were the club's main rivals.[162]

Superettan 2010, the first season for Henrik Larsson as a manager, started off positively for Landskrona. With an aggressively attacking 4–3–3 formation Larsson's club lined up victories and fought for the premier seats and promotion to Allsvenskan until the very end of the season. They ended, however, in fifth place. The Landskrona BoIS board was satisfied with the results, and therefore both Larsson and his assistant manager Hans Eklund renewed their contracts for another year.[163]

On 23 March 2011, Landskrona BoIS announced the recruitment of the Swedish national team qualified midfielder Marcus Lantz from Helsingborg, a solicitation that was largely thanks to Larsson.[164] With the recruitment of Lantz, Henrik Larsson announced a major effort to make the club win Superettan and be promoted to Allsvenskan, from where they were relegated in 2005.[165]

Before Superettan 2011, the managers of the other Superettan clubs had Landskrona as the hottest tips for winning the competition.[166] But the season became one big disappointment. Instead of being in the top of the table, Landskrona was stuck in the bottom of the league more than halfway into the season, with a predominant relegation threat. It was about the become the club's worst season in years. This led many fans to protest against both the board and Henrik Larsson, sarcastically questioning whether the club had used a lookalike instead of the real Larsson.[167] The crisis went so deep within the association that the board wanted Larsson himself to make a comeback as a player. Larsson played for 20 minutes with Landskrona's reserve team in a match against Mjällby AIF, but felt that his body was not sufficiently trained for playing in Superettan, even if the sporting director of Landskrona, Mats Aronsson, believed the opposite.[168] However, Landskrona and Henrik Larsson finished on 10th place, avoiding relegation, largely because of the summer signing of goalkeeper Ivo Vazgec who received the highest saving percentage in the whole league.[169]

On 21 November 2011, Larsson signed a new one-year contract, making him manager for Landskrona during Superettan 2012 as well.[170] Landskrona performed better in 2012, but still could finish in sixth place, 15 points behind even the third-placed side (promotion play-off spot).[171] In November 2012, Larsson confirmed he had left his position and would consider any available posts elsewhere.[172][173]

Falkenbergs[edit]

On 4 December 2013, Larsson was appointed manager of Falkenberg and he sign a one-year rolling contact at the newly promoted club.[174]

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 1 June 2014.[175]
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Falkenberg 4 December 2013 Present 12 3 3 6 25.00
Total 12 3 3 6 25.00

Personal life[edit]

On 21 June 1996, Larsson married Magdalena Spjuth[6] whom he had met in a restaurant at the age of 19.[9] She is the daughter of a politician and a local authority education chief.[6] They have one son, Jordan (named after basketball player Michael Jordan),[9] who plays for Högaborgs BK in the Swedish fourth division (Division 2), and one daughter, Janice.[6][176] He has an elder half-brother, Kim.[6]

On 6 June 2009, before Sweden's 1–0 loss against Denmark, Larsson's younger brother Robert Larsson – who had a troubled personal life – was found dead in his flat in Helsingborg, in south-west Sweden.[177] Henrik was not told until after the match had concluded.[178]

Career statistics[edit]

Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Högaborg 1989 21 1 21 1
1990 21 7 21 7
1991 22 15 22 15
Total 64 23 64 23
Helsingborg 1992 31 34 31 34
1993 25 16 5 1 30 17
Total 56 50 5 1 61 51
Feyenoord 1993–94 15 1 12 5 27 6
1994–95 23 8 9 1 6 7 38 16
1995–96 32 10 4 1 7 1 43 12
1996–97 31 7 4 0 6 1 41 8
Total 101 26 29 7 19 9 149 42
Celtic 1997–98 35 16 4 0 5 3 2 0 46 19
1998–99 35 29 5 5 0 0 8 4 48 38
1999–2000 9 7 0 0 0 0 4 5 13 12
2000–01 37 35 6 9 2 5 5 4 50 53
2001–02 33 29 3 2 1 0 10 4 47 35
2002–03 35 28 2 2 2 2 12 12 52 44
2003–04 37 30 5 5 1 0 15 5 58 40
Total 221 174 25 23 11 10 56 34 313 242
Barcelona 2004–05 12 3 0 0 4 1 16 4
2005–06 28 10 4 4 10 1 42 15
Total 40 13 4 4 14 2 58 19
Helsingborg 2006 15 8 5 4 20 12
2007 22 9 1 0 9 9 32 18
2008 27 14 1 0 2 0 30 14
2009 20 7 1 0 4 3 22 10
Total 84 38 8 4 15 12 104 54
Manchester United (loan) 2006–07 7 1 4 1 0 0 2 1 13 3
Career total 573 325 75 40 11 10 106 59 772 434

[179]

Sweden national team
Year Apps Goals
1993 2 1
1994 14 5
1995 6 0
1996 6 1
1997 2 0
1998 7 1
1999 9 2
2000 8 2
2001 10 9
2002 8 3
2003 1 0
2004 9 8
2005 5 2
2006 6 2
2007 0 0
2008 9 1
2009 4 0
Total 106 37

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Feyenoord
Celtic
Barcelona
Helsingborg
Manchester United

International[edit]

Individual[edit]

Orders and special awards

Floorball career[edit]

Larsson also played floorball at a competitive level in 1989. On 23 November 2008, he resumed his floorball career when he played his first Swedish Super League game for Helsingborg. In his second game for the club, he made two assists, and was voted man of the match.[183][184]

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External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Fredrik Ljungberg
Sweden Captain
2008–2009
Succeeded by
Anders Svensson