Barcelona coach Henrik Larsson reflects on emotional Celtic departure

By David Walton

May 5, 2021

Barcelona coach Henrik Larsson has reflected back on his emotional Celtic departure back in 2004.

Larsson is one of Celtic’s all-time greats, and for some may be considered our best player ever. The Swede spent seven years in Glasgow and managed 242 goals in 313 appearances [Celtic Wiki]. Just the name is enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand given the sheer greatness that Larsson represents.

These days, of course, he’s currently one of Ronald Koeman’s assistants at Barcelona. He secured his first trophy in coaching after securing the Copa del Rey last month, and will have his sights set on pipping Atletico Madrid to the La Liga title.

He’s been speaking on Swedish podcast “The Match”, and as he reflected on that tearful Parkhead 2004 exit, he admitted he was pleased the Celtic fans got to see that side of him.

“They got to see another side of me”

“I never thought I would be as emotional as I was when I left the field the last league match at home. I started crying uncontrollably. It’s nice that you can be surprised in, for me anyway, a positive way. 

An exciting seven days for Celtic fans is about to get underway

“It maybe showed everyone that you are not as emotionally cold as I deliberately chose to be on the pitch. They got to see another side of me and I think the people there appreciated it very much and that is one of the reasons why I am still so acclaimed there.”

Touching on his move to Barca, here’s what Henrik had to say:

“Magdalena (Henrik’s wife) said: “I do not think they are waiting. If it is to happen, it will probably be now.” Then I said: “Then you and Rob Jansen, my agent, can go down to Barcelona and negotiate. As long as you are satisfied, I know that it is a good contract. I felt that if they were interested in me, there was nothing I could even say no to. It’s not possible. It is a dream club.”

Should Henrik Larsson return to Celtic in a coaching capacity?

It’s the million-dollar question that pulls at the heartstrings of every Celtic fan. Should Larsson return to Parkhead in a coaching or potentially a manegerial capacity?

Let’s be frank – it comes with major risks. We’ve already seen the damage a disastrous stint in charge of the club can do to a Celtic icon. Neil Lennon proved just how toxic relationships can get with his mediocre second spell in charge.

Of course, Neil made his own bed by refusing to leave when the time is right. Larsson would always be able to save face at Celtic and keep his reputation in check so long as he knew when the right time to go was should things not work out. However, it still may not be a risk Larsson would want to take.

Henrik Larsson celebrates scoring for Celtic in the UEFA Cup semi-final / (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Not when you consider what happened to him with Helsingborgs. He was adored there after starting and finishing his playing career with the Swedish club. However, after relegating them to the Swedish second division as manager, a minor group of fans attacked both himself and his son Jordan [The Guardian]. He went back for a brief spell, but again resigned after further abuse from supporters [The 42].

You could understand, then, if Larsson was a touch hesitant about taking over at Celtic one day. He may not want to risk any reputational damage in a city where he’s currently considered as a God.

Regardless of what path he takes, of course, we all wish him the very best in his current role at the Camp Nou.

In other news, Micah Richards “can’t believe” Man City didn’t sign this Celtic player in 2016.