Henrik Larsson interview, 2014: “Celtic was a mystical club”

Henrik Larsson at 40

 

The King of Kings recently gave an interview in the German football magazine ’11 Freunde’.  He had some very interesting, funny and moving things to say – about Celtic and much, much more.

 

If your German is any good read the whole interview here:  http://www.11freunde.de/interview/legende-henrik-larsson-ueber-ronaldinho-celtic-und-das-leben#.U8eJtBIBMUw.twitter

 

Jens 1893 kindly translated some of the article’s highlights on the Huddleboard.  Here they are:

 

His toughest opponent: “Craig Moore, he yelled at me for 90 minutes and kicked me all over the pitch. He tried everything he could to get into my head. But: He never whined when I got him. And I got him hard several times.”

Colin Hendry once said “When I play against Larsson, I feel small and clueless: “He really said that? Is there a nicer compliment for a Celtic player?”

On his switch from Feyenoord to Celtic: “I was looking for a new adventure. Celtic was a mystical club. That fascinated me.”

On Celtic´s importance to the fans: “During my first season, Rangers had a chance to win ten in a row. We could have sealed the title with a win on the next to last game, but we drew so everything was wide open. After the game an old Celtic fan hugged me with tears in his eyes and kept saying: “You need to win that fucking title for us!” That´s when I realised you don´t play for yourself and your club only, but for the fans who love this fantastic club. We won the league a week later.”

On his nickname “King of Kings” and how fond Celtic fans were of him: “I didn´t realize it at the beginning. One day my older brother called me and told me he´d seen a kid in a Celtic top with my number, but it didn´t have my name on it, but rather simply “god”.

On the pressure the love put him under: “I initially thought it was really disconcerting that people put posters of me on their walls or wore jerseys with my name. That´s not why I became a professional footballer, I simply wanted to play at the highest possible level. In retrospect, their adoration really flatters me. I´m really happy that I managed to put so much joy in people´s lives.”

On Zlatan: “His ego would be useless if he didn´t have this fantastic ability to play football. You can´t fake talent. But he also embodies a change in society. When I played, it was all about the team, now it´s about individuals. But without a team you don´t have a chance – neither in football, nor in life.”

On the best player he ever played with: “Ronaldinho. He saw gaps where others had long quit. When he had the ball, he was the happiest person on the planet. In every practice. He smiled for 98% of the day. When he got to the locker room before practice in the mornings, you automatically had a good mood.”

On whether he got to know Ronaldinho closer: “On my first day, he was really excited and nervous to meet me and he told me how he adored me at the 1994 World Cup. His eyes were glowing. I thought he was taking the piss, but he said: “Henke, you´re my idol!” Henceforth, he called me “Idolo” Bizarre, isn´t it?”

On winning the CL in 2006: “Best party of my life and the first one for which i stayed completely sober. Everyone was there, my wife, my older brother, my friends. I wanted to taste every moment of that night.”

Best moment that night: “Me and my wife were the last to leave the party. The bouncer offered to drive us to the hotel and as we were driving through Paris, my wife started singing “campeones, campeones, ole, ole ole”. She kept on singing when we got to the hotel and suddenly a window opened, Thiago Motta appeared with the European Cup in his hands and he joined in. More and more windows kept opening, van Bommel, van Bronckhorst, Deco and others joined in. Maybe the greatest moment of my career.”

On scoring against Celtic for Barcelona: “For seven years, they played the intro of the “Magnificent Seven” after my goals at Celtic Park. This time it was silent. Some fans even booed me. I´d have loved to just sink into the ground. I have to thank Celtic for everything. That club essentially paid for my house, made me financially independent and turned me into what I am today. I loved the Celtic fans, but I stabbed them in the heart that night. But what was I supposed to do? I was a Barca player.”

On the darkest hour of his career: “June 6th, 2009. I was sitting there in the locker room after a game against Denmark when one of the trainers approached me, gave me my cell phone and told me to call my wife. I replied that I wanted to have a shower first, but he only said it was serious. I thought something had happened to my children!”

That day your younger brother died at age 35: “He had been drug addicted for years. We knew that day was coming. i had to endure how he threw his life away and couldn´t do anything. Henrik Larsson, the football star who was loved all over Europe, who felt invincible, was suddenly helpless. I had everything, he lived in hell. In that moment I realised that football, everything I had in life, was unimportant. I decided to retire in that moment.”

You criticised the Swedish media afterwards: “They made money with our misery. It made me sick, I was disgusted. They demanded me to behave professionally, to be a role model. But they dropped their mask in that moment.”

What shocked you the most? “The papers ran headlines like “Larsson´s brother found dead” when I was still on the pitch. The whole country knew before I knew. Journalists besieged our house and annoyed my parents. They tried everything to get some information. I was used to that kind of media attention and would have been fine, but my family? I´ll never forgive some people for what they did back then.”

On his relationship with his brother: “I was thinking about him every day and I´m still doing so today. That uncertainty. How is he? Where is he? But no money in the world and no doctor could help him defeat those demons. He even changed his name so I didn´t get drawn into his life. I saw my parents age ten years the day they buried their own child. I´d trade every day, every title, every goal for my brother to be alive and healthy. But that´s impossible. That pain is going to stay with me forever.”

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Henrik Larsson celebrates winning European Cup w Barcelona

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Issue 1 and 2 of The Shamrock – Celtic Retro fanzine on sale on line here:  https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/subscriptions/

Covers of Issue 1and 2 together small

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3 thoughts on “Henrik Larsson interview, 2014: “Celtic was a mystical club””

  1. The humility that Henrik shows, has always been in evidence, his outlook on life, his football career and his obvious Love for our club, marks him a a very “Special” person.

  2. The last part of that sector was very sad, we don’t realise how lucky some of us are. Larson you are still a class above all the others, thanks for the great memories and looking forward to your return to paradise some day

  3. Henrik Larsson what a great player what a great man every time I go to Celtic park my mind goes back to the whole stadium singing your song and I smile I will tell my grandchildren about you has my dad used to tell me about the Lisbon lions hail hail king henrik

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