Celtic On This Day: Henrik Larsson adds to his legend

By John Reid

March 18, 2020

With no football on the horizon for Celtic, we thought we’d take a look back to some days of the past, in a new ‘on this day’ feature.

We start with a cup final which took place on this day in 2001, which saw Henrik Larsson add yet another chapter to his Celtic legend.

It will be hard for some younger Celtic fans to remember just how bad a blow Henrik Larsson’s broken leg was to the club in 1999.

The injury, suffered against Lyon, kept him out of action until the final league game of the season, which was meaningless as the Hoops’ season had fallen to pieces following Larsson’s leg break.

Indeed, it arguably ended any hopes that John Barnes had of being a successful Hoops manager.

Henrik Larsson scores his third goal vs Kilmarnock (Mandatory Credit: Jamie McDonald /Allsport)

Cut to 10 months later, and it was an entirely different story. Under the management of Martin O’Neill, the Hoops were storming clear at the top of the league, and on the way to a first domestic treble in 32 years.

Personal triumph for attacker

The first part of this treble came on this day in 2001, and was a personal triumph for Larsson. He scored a hat-trick as the Hoops defeated Kilmarnock 3-0 in the CIS Insurance Cup final.

18 Mar 2001: Henrik Larsson of Celtic lifts Henrik Larsson with the League Cup trophy (Mandatory Credit: Jamie McDonald /Allsport)

His performance was so good that Celtic were able to cope with the sending-off of Chris Sutton when it was 1-0. That didn’t stop Larsson, who ended up scoring 53 goals for the Hoops in season 2000-01.

Recent strikers aren’t as good as legend

In the time since Larsson left Celtic in 2004, the club have had many good strikers. In recent seasons just look at the impact the likes of Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembele have had on the side.

However, they aren’t at Larsson’s level, and perhaps never will be. He was a one-off, and has to go down as one of the greatest strikers in Celtic’s history.

For another striker, a hat-trick in a cup final would be the highpoint of their career, but it was just another day for Larsson at Celtic.