The striker’s heart will be divided for this evening’s Champions League game between Celtic FC and Barça. He has fond memories of both clubs
“Messi will win the Ballon d’Or” predicts the former Swedish international, who also feels that Xavi Hernández “is the soul of the team”
Pleasure to watch Barça
He won two Ligas, one Spanish Supercup and one Champions League in two years at FCB, time enough to take away some very fond memories of the club and city. He honoured that last summer when he came to watch the friendly in Gothenburg between Barça and Manchester United, another club for whom he played for a few games in 2007, saying “it is a pleasure to watch Barça. They have some fundamental players like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. They’re the best team in the world”.
A legend at Celtic FC, where he played for seven seasons, Swedish striker Henrik Larsson also made a huge impact in his two seasons at Barça. The game tonight at Celtic Park is therefore a very special one for the man now coaching Swedish second division outfit Landskrona Bols.
He goes down in history as one of the finest centre forwards ever to play for the Glasgow giants. But he also left his mark on Barça including an unforgettable performance in the Champions League Final in Paris, where FC Barcelona lifted the European Cup trophy for the second time by beating Arsenal 2-1. His assists played a key role in the greatest moment of Frank Rijkaard’s managerial career.
Looking back, Larsson is hugely grateful to both Celtic and Barça, and asked in an interview with Spanish newspaper El País who he’d like to win this evening, he replied that “a draw would be best.” In the first leg “Celtic defended very well … but Barça dominated the ball like nobody”.
Larsson played for Barça alongside several of the current squad. He thus witnessed firsthand the arrival of young Leo Messi on the scene. “Even when he was just a kid he was excellent. He’s a phenomenon and I’ll always be able to tell my family that I played with him” said Larsson, who is also convinced that the Argentinian will win the Ballon d’Or yet again this year. He added that “Xavi is the soul of Barça … He never makes a bad pass. He plays in a very difficult position and doesn’t score goals, but he’s the key to it all”.