International Break,Best Ever… Final Choice,Centre-forward.
As we move on to the final pick,there is really only one man who is going to be my choice.
I first saw him in the 1994 World Cup. Seemed to run about a lot to little effect,didn’t have much of a build on him,wasn’t impressed. Even though Sweden finished in third place,he only managed one goal. I wasn’t particularly enthused when Wim pulled out all the stops to sign him from Feyenoord.
I was a bit more enthusiastic about him when his 16 goals helped us win the league,mind. Including the first in the clincher against St Johnstone. And the following season-helped in no small measure by the arrival of Lubo,Gift From God-saw him really become a favourite of the fans.
He scored 38 times that season,and started the following season like a whirlwind. 8 goals in his first 9 league games,but his season was virtually over when he suffered a horrific leg break in a European tie v Lyon. So bad that fears for his career were real.
Henrik is made of sterner stuff. Back he came at the end of the season,and he even went to the European Championships in the summer.
But it was another event that summer which would see Henrik elevated to the status he enjoys to this day-King of Kings and an absolute legend. The arrival of Martin O’Neill.
Henrik positively thrived under Martin. His partnership with Lubo was more piecemeal than before,with Lubo being used (too) sparingly,but his partnerships with Evil Genius Chris Sutton and Big Bad John Hartson,ably abetted from midfield by Stan Petrov and Alan Thompson soon blossomed.
173 times he scored for Martin in 206 matches over four seasons. Not bad for a skinny winger who just ran around a lot! Of course,by then he had filled out some,had neck muscles like Mike Tyson,and had somehow learned to hang in the air to get his 5’9″ on to the end of crosses. And watch for yourself-see the link below-how he would make space in the box,leaving himself virtually unmarked.
Martin’s first season was Henrik’s most fruitful in terms of goals and medals,but probably his finest was in a year where he won nothing. 2003,culminating in that bittersweet final in Seville. Two great headers had us dreaming. We are dreaming still,as the trophy eluded us.
He wasn’t about to let it get him down too much,performing heroics again the following season,with over 40 goals-again! This time the trophy haul was more in his favour,winning The Double. It was,of course,to be the last time he wore our beloved colours competitively,departing for Barcelona,where he could feel the sun on his back.
He felt the congratulations of his team-mates on his back too-almost singlehandedly winning them The Champions League against Arsenal as well as two La Liga titles in his two years there.
Not content with that,he returned to his home club Helsingborgs and won the cup with them-and a Premier League medal with Manchester United when Alex Ferguson took him on an emergency loan!
242 goals in 313 games and you can see them all here-with grateful thanks to Moravcik for compiling them.
Thank you for a Magnificent Seven years,our Magnificent Seven!!!
Saltires en Sevilla…
Henrik Larsson 313 (1997-2004) x242 goals King of Kings
2 goals: that Lob versus Oldco and the winner in Boavista. One Stylish and one Effective. They sum up Henke and his class, with just the right amount of both those essential competencies.
I’m so glad he played in front of almost 60,000 fans every fortnight for the 7 years he was at Paradise. By the law of averages surely one young Bhoy will have seen something that inspires him to strive to play like him. He had everything the modern player needs to succeed. A mark of his brilliance is the way his fellow professionals respected him. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I heard the Barca players all stood and applauded him as he came into the dressing room after one particularly Stylish and Effective contribution to the team. Met him briefly on a flight to London once and was struck by his politeness and modesty.
We can watch every one of those 242 goals anytime on you tube. The 2 mentioned are ingrained until I turn to dust. Thanks Henke.
Other notables: any one would fit into the first eleven:
Dixie Deans; Tommy Burns; Lubo Moravcik; Stiliyan Petrov; Paul Lambert & Neil Lennon. George McCluskey & Brian McClair
Not so favourable:
Provan, McLeod, Nicholas and Judas all great players, but have All blotted their copybook and cannot consider them.
To complete Mahe’s ( Mad ) Men is the final forward slot . Like I said zero time for baggage here , do your job or ship out . I want consummate professionals who will deliver the goods full stop . Marko Viduka can gtf therefore.
When looking at the layout of my team thus far all I need is a finisher as that entire midfield will look to hit either this bhoy in the box of give it to Paolo who is deeper lying of the 2 .
So the most important qualities I am looking for is reading of the game and a top top quality chance to finish conversion rate . Right place right time is much more important in this instance than being a great all round footballer or pace etc. I basically want a goal machine as the talent galore under him should provide chance after chance .
The right flank in particular should see Jackie and Aiden combine very well with Paolo drifting over to add to the excitement . If I were an opposition manager I might very well target the left flank having perceived it to be the weaker of the 2 as Naka cant be expected to provide too much cover for Izzy , who is better going forward . To compensate for this Roy sits on the left side of midfield and Virgil assumes the left side of the centre half position . The scare factor of both cannot be underestimated .
Should a winger hit the by line Di Canio hovers for the cut back , Keano further behind for , or across the goal mouth where the main goal threat awaits .
By now you should know the answer, hes the obvious choice with over a goal a game ratio .
Henke my arse.
Jimmy “ Machine Gun “ McGrory is clearly the bhoy for me and with such a goal ratio ( 472 goals in 398 games ) is the outstanding candidate to fill my last slot and lead the Madmen to glory .
Of the many records he holds the 56 hatricks is one hell of a feat as is 8 goals in one game .
One would never imagine such a record was attained by one considered small standing at a mere 5” 6” which makes his tally all the more impressive .
Scotland caps came along with such a record of course , yeah right a measly 7 appearances show , once again , the bigotry at the heart of Scottish football.
Born in the Garngad of good Donegal stock he was great in the air despite his smallish stature and a Queens Park keeper once broke 3 fingers saving one of his headers.
With such a goal machine at their diposal it would be easy to assume Glasgow Celtic went on to thrive but the truth is he played during what is known as the barren years and was a bright spark in dark days for the faithful fans.
There is a bit of footage of the great man playing in the 1928 Glasgow Cup final but tbh its hardly worth watch such is the primitive ways and recordings , such a pity.
He clearly loved the Celts and would famously refuse a transfer to Arsenal for what would have been a world record fee at that time. In 2007 he was officially ranked the 7th greatest goalscorer of all time with the great Pele leading the pack of course.
Of all the players I did not witness personally I must admit that the two Jimmys take the top two spots , Johnstone and McGrory.
Mr McGrory , I would be honoured if you would grace Mahes Madmen as our main striker , and try not to kill your fellow striker Paolo , hes temperamental but good. And oh , ignore the Irishman in the middle, he will quiet down when you score a few dont worry.
“McGrory of Arsenal just didnt sound as good as McGrory of Celtic!”