Henrik Larsson on how former Celtic boss Wim Jansen stopped the 10
If anybody sums up the impact Wim Jansen had at Celtic, it’s probably Henrik Larsson.
After all, Jansen signed the King of Kings twice. Once for Feyenoord, and again for Celtic. Having struggled in Holland, Larsson was brought to the club for a bargain fee. His signing was part of Jansen’s straight-forward but also gargantuan task: stop Rangers’ 10 in a row.
He did that, with the 97-98 Celtic squad going down in history. So too, Jansen, who sadly left the club just two days after his historic title win.
Jansen, who has revealed he’s living with dementia, has been the subject of a huge outpouring of affection from Celtic, former players and – of course – supporters.
One of those former players, perhaps the most famous, has reflected on his time at Celtic under the curly-haired European Cup winner. Henrik Larsson said of Jansen’s tenure [Daily Record]:
“The preparation for that season was chaotic. Wim only had 13 or 14 players when he started. The guys had never experienced a trainer like Wim before. He was always so calm and you could speak to him about anything. Everyone wants to work hard for a man like that.
“But we had so many new players that it took time. And you hardly ever get time in football. I could feel the pressure from the start. Every day.
“Rangers were going for a 10th successive title and we knew that couldn’t happen. Every Celtic fan who spoke to me told me how important that was. So you knew, if you don’t stop Rangers this year, it’s over.
“In that respect, it was an advantage there were so many new players. They had no affinity with the Old Firm yet. The rivalry with Rangers was less deep.
“As a result, they were better able to handle the stress. Because if you had known then what you know now, that team wouldn’t have made it.”
Wim Jansen and Henrik Larsson; both Celtic legends
That Wim Jansen only spent a season at Celtic is a genuine shame. Who knows how different the late 90s could’ve been with the two-time World Cup finalist?
Charismatic, tactically tuned-in and with excellent experience, his was a shrewd hire by the new Celtic board at the time. However, a strained relationship with Jock Brown [Herald] put paid to what ought to have been a long and successful tenure.
There was indescribable pressure on Jansen to succeed. 10 in a row had never been done. Sadly, in our more recent history, it still hasn’t. But the amount of weight on Jansen’s shoulders was enormous. Yet, he steered the Bhoys to victory, an undoubted high point in a dramatic, often traumatic decade for the club.
That he’s another ex-pro with dementia is desperately sad. And the affection Henrik Larsson has for his former boss speaks volumes. Thank goodness he stayed at Celtic despite Jansen’s departure.
Perhaps now, Jansen will get the fulsome appreciation he deserves. His coaching changed the history of Scottish football forever. He put Celtic on a different, winning course, and reminded fans what was possible in the East End of Glasgow after years of either close misses or total misery.
He’s a Celtic legend, just like Henrik Larsson.