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'Di Roe': A quick history of Sweden and Scania's Helsingborgs IF

A brief introduction to the seven-times Allsvenskan champions as they prepare to face Celtic.

Henrik Larsson bids farewell to football

Helsingborgs IF are the seven-times Allsvenskan champions based in Helsingborg, in the south of Sweden.

Formed in 1907 through the merger of local sides BK Svea and Svitiod, HIF’s early years were characterised by the scoring exploits of star Otto Malm.

Malm’s prowess in front of goal has passed into legend. In 20 years with the club he scored an incredible 735 goals in 500 games.

Titles arrived in town with back-to-back championship victories in 1929 and 1930 and again in 1933 and 1934.

Helsingborg were relegated for the first time in their history in 1968 and remained in the Swedish football wilderness for 24 seasons. They returned to the Allsvenskan in 1992 and were fired back into the limelight by a 21-year-old striker going by name of Henrik Larsson.

'Henke' fired 50 goals in 58 games for HIF before making his big move to Feyenoord in the Netherlands. His career would of course take him to Celtic Park for a goal-laden seven years.

Within six years of Larsson's big impact on Allsvenskan, Helsingborg had won the Swedish Cup – Svenska Cupen – with a victory over Orgryte IS.

A year later HIF had their sixth league title, achieved under the management of Norwegian coach Age Hareide.

In 2006, returning hero Henrik Larsson arrived to end his career with his hometown club. He came to the Olympia Stadium alongside Scottish coach Stuart Baxter and fired them to a Svenska Cupen win, defeating Gefle IF 2-0 in the final.

In season 2007/08 HIF made their longest run in Europe, a journey to the last 32 of the Europa League. They did it the hard way, starting in the first qualifying round and progressing past FC Narva Trans of Estonia, Ireland’s Drogheda United and SC Heerenveen of Netherlands to the groups.

Drawn in Group H beside Greeks Panionios, Galatasaray of Turkey, Austria Vienna and Bordeaux of France, HIF progressed before being eliminated over two legs by Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven.

Larsson netted 38 times in 84 games on his three year swansong at the Olympia before bidding an emotional farewell to the club, and the game, in 2009.

Last season ‘Di Roe’ won Allsvenskan number seven, with manager Conny Karlsson also adding the Svenska Cupen and Swedish Super Cup to the trophy cabinet.

Now Hareide, in charge of the club for its historic 1999 league victory, is back at the helm as caretaker manager.

Helsingborgs IF enjoy a healthy local rivalry with Malmo FF, who are located just to the south of the town and share status as being Scanian.

The club’s Scanian identity is important to supporters and the culture of the club is to associate with the region rather than the country of Sweden.

Swedish flags are rarely seen at the Olympia as a result, with the red and yellow cross of Scania preferred. The hardcore fans call themselves the ‘Karnan’ and are renowned for the songs about their great rivals Malmo.

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