Goal of the Day: L is for Larsson

Wednesday 10 June 2020 02:00

We're almost halfway through our A-Z Goal of the Day series, and today sees us reach the letter 'L', which is for Larsson.

Henrik Larsson was already a legend of European football before joining United in a shock loan move in January 2007, but he only enhanced his almost flawless reputation with an impressive 10-week spell in M16.
Sir Alex Ferguson had decided to strengthen his striking reserves, as the club chased a first Premier League title in four years, and the 35-year-old fitted seamlessly into the team.
That much is made clear in today's Goal of the Day – a glorious flowing move against Watford – which you can watch in full below...
Goal of the Day: Larsson v Watford Video

Goal of the Day: Larsson v Watford

L is for Larsson, which means it's time to watch Henrik ice this brilliant team move against Watford in 2007...

Larsson had left Barcelona in the summer of 2006, after helping the Catalans beat Arsenal 2-1 in Paris to claim only the second Champions League triumph in the club's history. The Swede arrived on the pitch as a second-half substitute, with the 10-man Gunners cradling a 1-0 advantage, and emerged as arguably the game's decisive player, by setting up goals for Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti.
But he returned to his hometown club, Helsingborg, after that summer's World Cup, and his career appeared to be winding down. But once the Swedish season closed, late in 2006, he accepted Ferguson's proposal to join United between 1 January and 12 March 2007, before the football calendar resumed in his home country.
Larsson's standout contribution arguably arrived in his very first game for the club, where he opened the scoring for the Reds in a third-round FA Cup tie against Aston Villa – then managed by Martin O'Neill, who had worked with Larsson for many golden years at Celtic. The Villans equalised in the 74th minute through former Liverpool striker Milan Baros, but United would have the last laugh, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer squeezed a last-gasp shot under the Brummies' goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly.
Larsson would appear 13 times for United before returning to Helsingborg in March 2007, and had a powerful effect. In his book My Autobiography, Ferguson later revealed that the players gave the forward a standing ovation after his final match for the club, away at Middlesbrough. "It takes some player to make that kind of impact in two months," wrote Sir Alex. "They would say his name in awed tones." Larsson finished with three goals – including a tie-settling winner against Lille in the last 16 of the Champions League – and was later awarded a Premier League medal after United pipped Jose Mourinho's Chelsea to the title.
Larsson remained with Helsingborg until 2009, when he announced his retirement. He did, however, come back in 2012 for brief spells with lower-tier Swedish clubs Raa and Hogaborgs. But he is predominantly remembered for his efforts at Celtic (242 goals in 315 matches), his two seasons with Barcelona and his part in Sweden's third-place finish at the 1994 World Cup.
"I have always admired Larsson. I made a move for him when he was at Celtic but then they managed to persuade him to stay. He is a great player. It is a terrific bit of business for us. We are bringing someone in who can change a game. We won't be going for any other strikers. We have exhausted all avenues and this, without doubt, is the best option." (Sir Alex Ferguson)
"I think he is the best Scandinavian player since Michael Laudrup – and he has shown that in training and games. His touch is something we can all learn from. You never stop learning as a player and Henrik has done a few tricks in training that have had us all standing up and looking and saying: ‘We have not seen that before.'" (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer)