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  • Welcome to another special edition of the transfer Talk podcast.

  • And we have gone international.

  • We are in Helsingborg, in Sweden, and I'm delighted to be joined by the legend.

  • That is Henrik Larsen.

  • Henrik, welcome to the transfer talk podcast.

  • Thank you very much.

  • Henrik, Let's get back to where it started.

  • Right here.

  • Hellsing book a team called Hold a Book in 1988.

  • How you spotted?

  • And you're early memories of that time.

  • Oh, yeah.

  • I mean, I started playing a target Borg when I was six years old, so I went straight through the ranks.

  • Is an amateur club here in Helsingborg.

  • The biggest team we have into cities Helsingborg.

  • Uh, I went to Helsingborg in 1992.

  • I think it wa ce Andi played two years there and then Then I went down.

  • I mean, the first year when I came to help them boys quarter love of goals.

  • There was second highest division in Sweden.

  • And the year after, I scored a few more goals.

  • And then, uh, the the clubs in Europe started to to notice me a little bit on Duh.

  • Yeah, I had a chance to go on from Elsa more.

  • You're you're being very modest.

  • You said you called quite a few goals.

  • I've got it here 51 goals in 61 games in two seasons and you mentioned some of Europe's biggest clubs.

  • That's when finally came calling, and when I read this, I couldn't believe it.

  • I thought there was a zero missing, £295,000.

  • It was tough because obviously two years previously or three years previously, I've been playing on an amateur level and then going to second highest division in Sweden, coping with death, all right, going to the highest division in Sweden doing all right.

  • That would say, I mean one year there and done all right then.

  • Also getting D move abroad obviously meant that I was playing football Now through a whole year, that's there was a little bit difficult, he said.

  • It was hard when when you came to the Dutch Lilly again and joined fly in order.

  • It sounds even tougher when you try to leave.

  • Oh, they're legal dispute.

  • It was a legal dispute between me and final, and how stressful it wasn't stressful.

  • In that sense, I was I was disappointed because obviously we had a contract and for me was quite clear with my advisor.

  • It was quite clear that I had a clause in my contract that I was allowed to leave and find a new that.

  • But yes, you wanted to make it a little bit difficult that was more angry and annoyed with finally time.

  • But I always said that I learned a lot in Holland when I played there and played for finer than in terms off what it takes from you and what's expected off you as a professional football player and also developing the skills that I did at the time that I didn't really notice that I did.

  • But all of that help me later on in my career in order to be able to play a lot of different systems and known what it takes to become a professional football player.

  • Then, of course, came Celtic.

  • How did that come about and how did you hear of their interest?

  • There was been.

  • Jenson was the manager at Celtic at the time he has took over the team.

  • It was final when I signed their butt.

  • He was one of the the guys that sign me to Holland s O.

  • He knew that there was opportunity for me to leave Onda.

  • Um yeah, he knew that I wasn't too pleased with the playing time that I got in the positions that I played.

  • So Celtic was the team that the the only team who was willing to take a gamble on me, to be honest And I think that they gambling right?

  • So Vigna Anson is July 1997.

  • You say he is the man who's quite instrumental in bringing you there.

  • How big a key was he to you for you to go to Celtic given you knew him?

  • Not for me.

  • I mean to be honest And I said that before in interviews that had done I didn't know that much about Celtic obviously living in Holland at the time with PF in order being Dutch, you sometimes could see glimpse off when he scored two goals in the league.

  • But other than that, I didn't don't know that much.

  • So for me, the key reason why I went there was because I was there because obviously he he brought me to Holland.

  • Unfortunately, I didn't get to work with him that much.

  • Do my time at that final.

  • But obviously he was instrumental for me to go in there without him.

  • I don't think that the move would have happened.

  • Let's talk about your first season at Celtic, the leak up on the title and in so doing you stop Rangers.

  • Did you know at the time how much that meant to the Celtic fans and how intense that rival rewards between the two clubs?

  • Obviously, I didn't have a clue about that, but during that season you Yeah, you get to know the people at the club.

  • You get to know the players, you get to know everything around the club and you get to know a little bit more history of the club.

  • So I wasn't when I think that's part of the reason.

  • I think there were six or seven you players there that didn't really have the knowledge and about the history and everything and I think that helped us Indian to be able to do what we did in the end because knowing all those things and go out and do it, I think it would have bean very, very hard because there's always pressure when you play facility, but know that as well.

  • Being aware of that in that sense, I think that the burden would have been too much.

  • How much of a life changing experience was it for you, though, when you first arrived at Celtic?

  • Because the fans are fanatical And if you're one of their favorites, you're like the golden boy.

  • Was it almost an instant an instant love affair between the two?

  • I don't think so, because I don't My debut at the hips away and I gave the ball away in the hip scored the winning goal to one, so they weren't too pleased about that.

  • Um, and they thought, But how we brought in here.

  • But I think that in the end they're quite happy that there came there, Henry.

  • Then came a dark moment for you.

  • October 1999 when you suffered that horrific double leg fracture.

  • What memories do you have off that night, if any?

  • No, I have a lot of memories from that night.

  • I knew exactly what I tried to do in order to stop the defender from getting the ball s wanted to put my foot place my foot firmly in the ground and let him kick me like it done or other players have done numerous occasions.

  • But this time when I planted my foot and he kicked my leg and I was just waiting him for kick and then bring the ball away with my right foot has felt that I felt the ground.

  • I didn't feel any pain.

  • Ah, it was just, uh I was laying on the ground.

  • I lifted my my leg up and looked something hanging in that though I broke my leg and I remember we had Ah, Dutch referee.

  • So I told the referee in Dutch, I think I broke my leg.

  • It was, ah, horrific injury.

  • Any time at the time as well, because, I mean, we're talking about 1999 here.

  • I mean, not many years prior to that.

  • I mean, if you get ah, meniscus or something like that, that was considered ah ah, injury that you would have a hard time to come back from.

  • And obviously in 99 I'm not happy that I broke my leg, but I'm happy I did it at the time because they obviously the technique to treat the leg breaks was different because I still have my pin inserted in in my legs from here all the way down here and screw on the side there.

  • Ah, Without that, I don't think that I would be be able to play.

  • And with that new technique, it was was only out for five and 1/2 months before I was with in the years with with the Swedish National Mentally though, whether any time during that time where you thought I might not play again No, it wasn't.

  • I was rumor sitting on the on the pitch in Leone and I was counting November December, Jennifer, March, April May at the latest.

  • I have to be back.

  • You know, it reached euros.

  • I don't know why I did that, but I think that put my mind and right place Data is straight away in order to do the rehab.

  • I've done a lot of rehab and I worked very, very hard in order to come back because I had a gold.

  • I had the gold come with sweet into the year is 2000.

  • By the time you came back for Celtic, there were a lot of changes happening at that club.

  • Kenny Dalglish was an interim charge following John Bond sacking.

  • Were you concerned at all about how the club was being run at that point for me, it really didn't matter, because for me, it's I want to play football.

  • If I'm good enough, it doesn't matter who's the manager.

  • I'm gonna play anyhow.

  • But obviously at some points you can get a little bit tired about the situation when you see the pattern repeating itself.

  • Ah, a lot of times.

  • But I think when O'Neal came or I know when the deal came in, he studied the ship and the rest of system.

  • You say he studied the ship.

  • He rises in the summer of 2000 and you score 53 goals.

  • Celtic win the domestic trouble.

  • What did he do to create such an impact?

  • Not only at the club for you personally, because that amount of goals is astonishing.

  • Yeah, I know, but, I mean, you have to look at the players he brought in this.

  • Well, obviously, Chris something being one of them on the lemon.

  • I mean, Alan Thompson was there.

  • DDR Gap came as well, and we already had Ah, a number of good players in place.

  • So obviously the quality of Celtic team increased immensely.

  • Everything's going great for you at that stage 53 gold U in the European golden shoe as well.

  • Yeah, they must have bean office.

  • The probably was.

  • But I never got any information that there were.

  • And I always never bothered about that because I mean, I was happy.

  • It's Celtic.

  • We had a good team.

  • We replayed in Europe.

  • We 2003 went to European Cup final.

  • I was playing with Swedish national team on and off.

  • Uh huh.

  • So I was in a happy place.

  • I was earning good money was a great contract that I had And yes, to move down south for ah, for a few more more pounds in a week.

  • It wasn't interested for me because I saw what we had it.

  • Celtic and I saw the the manager.

  • And, uh, I think I started to understand he's planned what he wanted to do with the club.

  • You mentioned Chris Sutton there.

  • I'm gonna mention John Hartson as well.

  • Yeah, over your time at Celtic, who is the best strike partner you had?

  • Would you say Chris something without it out.

  • John was good, but I think the partnership me and Chris, I was a little bit more dynamic, but John was for me a great goal score.

  • But for me, Chris was the best I played with you.

  • Mentioned the European final, the U F A Cup Final 2003 against Porto, Josie Marino's porter off course.

  • It didn't end how Celtic would have wanted it to end.

  • When you look back now off a ll the games, you've played it is that the one that hurts the most?

  • Without a doubt, there was a long time I couldn't speak about that game.

  • I could have watched the game.

  • I scored two great goals in that game that I can, uh, recognize now.

  • But 10 years back, it wasn't something that I even looked at because I mean, it was it would have meant so much for the club and for the funds on, obviously, for us players, because everybody talked about the Scottish League being poor and couldn't play and beat the English team.

  • If my memory serves him right, we played against backbone.

  • We played against, uh, Liverpool.

  • Yeah, way managed to beat them and they had had good sign.

  • So that just gives you a little bit of idea what kind of team we had.

  • I mean, we had, I think, at what point we had, like 14 international players from different countries, not the biggest country, small countries, but main players from from their countries.

  • And we had what aside, I say, if we played in the Premiership back then, I think we would have done really well.

  • Have you managed to watch any of that game since I watched it a little bit.

  • Now, the last 67 years, I watched a little bit.

  • They pops up on, Do you watch it?

  • Then I still feel annoys me, but that's the way it is.

  • We gave it a proper goal, and unfortunately we we didn't manage to go all the way to just again to being doing some come comparison among the team.

  • I mean, Porto with a very good team, was Europe, a league that you next year that winning Champions League and we really pressured them in the rope a league final.

  • So what I want to say is we were bloody good team the season after that final would prove to be your lost at Celtic.

  • Why didn't you stay?

  • No, but I said already that season When the season started, I said Ah, I will leave after this year, I want to go and play my football where Whether the weather is a little bit warmer I was you know, there's nothing wrong with the Scottish weather is quite similar to what I have here, but I've been there seven years.

  • I felt it was time for me to do something else.

  • I was, Ah, turning 33.

  • I felt that if I'm going to do something, now is the time to do it.

  • So I said it all along during the season that I will leave off this this year and on Duh.

  • Yeah, because I didn't want a part in a bad way.

  • I wanted to everybody to know what my feelings wasin what my plans were.

  • You said that you were happy.

  • It's Celtic.

  • Um you wanted to show people that Scottish football was good.

  • You got the European final, you one major trophies.

  • You scored so many goals during that seven years there Was there ever any time where you attempted I think I want to try something else a side of that final season on.

  • Were there ever any opportunities?

  • No, I was I wasn't tempted.

  • I know there was interested.

  • Interest from Manchester United.

  • When?

  • When was that?

  • I think it must have bean.

  • Yes, before I broke my leg.

  • Something like that.

  • But I'm not sure I don't I'm not really sure about the years.

  • It's so long ago had Do you know how that came about that?

  • No, I heard I heard about it because Mark Creep, who was center off its Celtic at the time I got a phone call from from, uh, United Player on does that?

  • I don't know, uh, what I heard.

  • But I don't know if it's true.

  • Notes I don't wantto tell pork pies here.

  • So on and asked a little bit about me.

  • There was an interest.

  • And now that Sir Alex beeen up watching.

  • But I was happy at the time, only being like two years.

  • Two and 1/2 years.

  • Maybe that Celtic, but fresh in mind, I had the three and 1/2 years in Hall of them.

  • Started feeling at home.

  • I started feeling happy.

  • My football went good, scored goals we had had a good team on.

  • I felt that now is not the time now.

  • You said after that Europa League Final that final season, you wanted to go somewhere maybe.

  • Whether whether is better Did you ever in your wildest dreams?

  • Imagine Barcelona when I'm calling.

  • So did did you think it was a joke when it happened?

  • Uh, not a joke, but I thought, seriously, because I know at the time when I stopped that season when I play the last game, I still didn't have anything in, uh, that I've spoke with a club.

  • And now it was about 28 to 29 clubs that were interested in my service.

  • 29 cops here from Europe all over Italy is bein, uh, I think even Germany in all of this world.

  • And did any of those goes far as talks with you?

  • No, because I said I have the European championship here because he has made a comeback to go back to the Swedish national team.

  • I stopped after 2002 in the World Cup.

  • I said, I want to focus on the European Championship on dhe.

  • I get a phone call?

  • Yeah, a few days before from a wife.

  • Um, before we're gonna meet Holland, play against Holland, and she tells me that Barcelona is interested in me.

  • And I told her I said, now that you have to wait, she s chuckled and said, I don't think they're gonna wait.

  • So I said, OK, then you have to go over there and talk with them.

  • I don't want to know anything together with Robinson.

  • I don't want to know anything and you sort it out.

  • And once everything is finished here, I can I can talk to them.

  • But I want to focus on the Swedish national team at the time.

  • For me, it was it was a dream come true.

  • Always followed.

  • Looked a lot at the Barcelona Games with which talk off human.

  • Uh, Romario, even Rivaldo when he he was there.

  • Ah, loud rope.

  • When he played, there was the dream team was fantastic to watch Romario So for them that they came for me.

  • I was a little bit surprised because I was a little bit older at the time.

  • On DA It's generally not ah, move that Barcelona goes for the tend to to go for the for the younger players or place that comes from the academy.

  • But Frank Rocket, especially Hank Ethan cop knew me from from the Dutch league and obviously knew me from the my Celtic years.

  • And he felt that it wasn't ingredients in me that they could have use off because at the time, uh, just in the heading department, Barcelona wasn't the strongest side.

  • You said that your wife called you to tell you Barcelona orange dress.