Celtic legend Larsson bows out on emotional night
Henrik Larsson retires from professional football after glittering career.
Celtic legend Henrik Larsson said an emotional farewell to professional football on Wednesday night as he played his last ever game for Swedish side Helsingborg. A tearful Larsson was presented with his club’s Player of the Year award and said his goodbyes to the support after the 2-0 defeat to Djurgarden.
Larsson had announced his intent to retire at the end of the Swedish league season but decided to bow out one game early in order to play his final minutes on the Helsinborg pitch. The player was joined on the pitch by family and friends as the 11,500 capacity crowd showed their appreciation for the ex-Celtic striker.
Larsson’s normally cool demeanour gave way as the occasion moved him to tears. "It really hits you when meet all this love," he said. "I'm normally quite a cool character but right now I feel like I could cry.
"It's huge to be able to end it on our home ground and it has to end some time. It's rubbish to end things this way (with a defeat) but you can't have everything in life."
Helsingborg announced that they were going to retire their number 17 shirt in Larsson’s honour and the striker was touched by the move.
"It's a fantastic gesture by the club, to retire it for ever. I'm very moved," he said.
Larsson drew the final curtain on a career that saw him rise to become one of the most respected players in the world game. After beginning his career in Sweden the young forward moved to Feyenoord in Holland, where he was under the influence of Wim Janssen, who would go on to become Celtic manager.
It was when Janssen made him his first choice transfer target after taking on the Celtic job that Larsson’s career took off and his performances in green and white saw him take on the status of club legend.
Larsson still holds the record as the Clydesdale Bank Premier League's all-time top goalscorer, with 158 league goals from his six year spell in Glasgow from 1998 to 2004. In his 21-year career, Larsson has picked up numerous medals and accolades. A Champions League winner with Barcelona, he also holds four SPL winners medals, won the English Premier League with Man Utd and contributed to two La Liga titles in Spain.
He also picked up the European Golden Boot in 2000-01 whilst at Celtic and was the top goalscorer in the UEFA Cup as Martin O'Neill's side went all the way to the final against Porto in Seville, a match in which Larsson scored twice.
The Swedish striker has hinted that he may move to playing floorball now that his footballing career is over but has stated his intention to return to Scotland and complete his coaching badges. Many have predicted that Larsson could one day take over the manager’s job at Parkhead and there would be few who would not welcome the return of one of the finest players to grace Scottish football in recent years.
To mark Larsson’s retiral, we have taken a dip into the STV archives to find key moment from his time in Scotland. You can see the videos and read about Larsson’s plans for the future here.