You may call Henrik Larsson Sweden’s favourite son and the greatest player to have ever donned the Celtic shirt. However, many fans and pundits continue to debate whether Larsson can be categorised a football legend or not.
Larsson is one of the few players that played for three of Europe’s “Blue Eyed” clubs. Larsson’s achievements in the game are many. He is the all-time UEFA cup leading goal scorer, was named in the Euro 2004 “Team of the tournament”, won the European golden boot in 2001, and was named as the all-time best Swedish footballer in 2005. His other achievements include getting an OBE from the queen and having his name in the Scottish football Hall of Fame.
The best players of Larsson’s generation acknowledged his brilliance. When Henrik Larsson was about to exit Barcelona, this is what Ronaldinho—the best at that time—had to say about him.
“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.”
Larsson won his first UEFA Champions League medal after his final game for Barcelona. Larsson came on as a substitute and assisted both of Barcelona’s goals in a 2–1 win over Arsenal. In the post match presentation, Thierry Henry paid tribute to the Swedish legend.
“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, which 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.” —Thierry Henry
In spite of winning praises from the most iconic football players, Larsson has had his detractors. According to them, fans and pundits unnecessarily exaggerate the footballing abilities of Henrik Larsson and claim that he was nothing more than a good impact player off the bench.
I completely disagree with Larsson’s detractors as there was a time I would helplessly wander around looking for a ticket to watch Larsson play since there wasn’t any good ticket website from where I could get one. On his day, Larsson was one of best players to watch. He did things on a football pitch that many of us can only dream off. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Henrik Larsson was a legend of the game.