Henrik Larsson: I regret not staying at Old Trafford longer

Decorated Swedish striker Henrik Larsson has admitted that the only regret in his celebrated career is not extending his stay at Manchester United- so he could get a Premier League medal.

The striker retired from football in 2009, and spent two months on loan at United at the start of 2007, scoring three goals in 13 appearances, before returning to parent club Helsingborgs.

The Swede made his name in Scottish football, scoring around 250 goals for Celtic, before moving to Barcelona in 2004, and has admitted he loved his time at Old Trafford and wishes he stayed longer. The Daily Mail reports from an interview with FourFourTwo with Larsson saying:

“That’s the only regret I have in my career.

“I should have stayed, as it would have meant I got a Premier League winner’s medal, and I would have stayed for one more season. But I still had a contract with Helsingborgs and I feel that when you sign a contract, you have to see it out.

“Everything was professional at Manchester United. When I had to attend a christening for my brother’s children, the club ordered a plane to take me there after a match. United really take care of all their players.”

Despite his lack of goals during his short stint at the Theatre of Dreams, the Swedish striker impressed. Sir Alex Ferguson described him as a “real aristocrat”, and felt as though the Swedish man still had a lot to offer even at 35, hence why he joined United on loan. Ferguson also said:

“Helsingborgs would not sell him but I asked Jim to ask their chairman what he would think about him coming on loan in January. Henrik pushed the boat in that direction with his employers.

“On arrival at United, he seemed a bit of a cult figure with our players. They would say his name in awed tones. For a man of 35, his receptiveness to information on the coaching side was amazing.

“At every session he was rapt. He wanted to listen to Carlos Queiroz, the tactics lectures, he was into every nuance of what we did. In training he was superb, his movement, his positional play. His three goals for us was no measure of his contribution.

“Cult status can vanish in two minutes if a player isn’t doing his job yet Henrik retained that aura. He looked a natural Man United player with his movement and courage. He also had a great spring for a little lad.”

It was certainly high praise indeed when you take into consideration who Sir Alex has managed during his time at Old Trafford. From the sounds of things too, it seems as though the feeling is mutual; Ferguson regrets not having Larsson for a longer period of time. Also, for a man that achieved a lot in his career, the Swedish striker deserved a Premier League medal. In addition, Larsson was a player that had won European Cups with Barcelona, numerous titles with Celtic in Scotland, and for him to say his only regret is not staying with Manchester United longer, certainly demonstrates the impact the club had on him, and how much he enjoyed his time at Old Trafford.

In my opinion, Larsson was underrated. I always remember how much interest he generated into Scottish football because he was such a big player for Celtic, and when he signed for United I was shocked, in the sense that it seemed surreal. At 35, I wasn’t too sure of how good he would be, but I remember watching his debut against Aston Villa in the FA Cup, where he scored in fact, and being impressed with his work rate. It looked as though he was loving every second of it. I think United miss players like that now, players that understand the opportunity they have before them; playing for a club like Manchester United and getting paid a fortune to do it. I’m not surprised Larsson wanted to stay either. He joined at a time when United had Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Gery Neville, Nemanja Vidic, and Patrice Evra amongst others!


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