The King of Kings

I’ve written a few leaders on some past Celtic players and I thought long and hard before doing this one, as I don’t know if I can do it justice, I hope i have, he is (and always will be) The King of Kings.

I initially thought, where do you start with a guy like this, revered by everyone as the greatest ever foreign player signed for the club, brought to Glasgow in 1997, after Wim Jansen got him to Parkhead from Feyenord, by then he had already established himself in Sweden’s national side, and had enjoyed a successful tournament, helping Sweden to finish 3rd in the 1994 US World cup, they incidentally left the USA as the tournaments top scorers.

It’s safe to say Henrik’s first appearances for Celtic were something of a mishap, and certainly more than a few had their doubts on him. Chic Charnley still claims he can dine out on stories of how Henrik passed the ball to him by mistake allowing Hibs to win 2-1, and how can we forget Henrik’s own goal in his first Euro campaign start with Celtic, as he lobbed Jonathan Gould, we did however go on to beat the Austrian’s as eventual 6 goal winners, so his o-g mattered little.

We would very shortly see firsthand if Henrik could play a pivotal role in halting the Oldco run at ten-in-a-row, during which time he would play alongside, either Simon Donnelly, Harald Brattbakk, and Darren Jackson, Henrik had become Celtic’s top scorer with 19 goals.

The title decider to stop the ten, would be against St Johnstone and was set for Parkhead 9th of May 1998, the sun was shining it was a great day, the atmosphere strange, although noisy and good, everyone was on edge, you could actually hear people praying loudly, “Please don’t let them get the 10”.

A full house looked on, even when Henrik put us 1 up, we were still full of tension, this then set up Harald (who came to us the same year as Henrik, with the reputation of being a prolific striker, but had been disappointing in the main since his move from Rosenberg to Parkhead), to write himself into Celtic folklore by scoring the winner in 73minutes, and thus giving what most Celtic fans to this day, believe to be the most important league title win in the clubs history, for some it is their greatest sporting memory. Many were so relieved they just burst into tears.

Season 1998-99 and under a new manager Jo Venglos (appointed in July) Henrik would score a total of 38 goals, Dr Jo would also introduce a certain Lubo Moravcik to Henrik and Celtic, and this would become a pivotal point in the years to follow.

Henrik started the following season 1999-2000 in blistering form, scoring 8 goals in nine matches, up until a EUFA cup game against Lyon came, which resulted in a horrific leg break in two separate places that would have seen any footballer out for at least a year, sometimes even for good, but no, this was not for Henrik, he took only 8 months to get fit to play again. A testament to his will and desire to overcome his injuries, was spoken of by someone who heard Henrik going through his treatment and they say the screams of pain as Henrik fought his way back from this injury, were not something that should be heard by the weak of stomach.

Henrik had pushed himself on through severe pain to return to play for Celtic.

In 2000-2001 We worried that Henrik might never regain his form after his horror leg break, but we were completely taken by surprise when he started the season with 12 goals in 9 games, and was in his best form ever, and managed 53 goals in 50 matches. The King of kings was born.

You could never tire of hearing Elmer Bernstein’s Theme from The magnificent seven, whenever Henrik scored, it just suited him, being a hero in the hoops.

There were a couple of significant things that happened in my mind from 1999 to 2001, besides Henrik’s leg break, one was Lubo Moravcik as he became more involved in the team and Henrik would flourish more playing alongside Lubo, the other was the appointment of Martin O’Neill in 2000 as manager. Henrik had by now played under 4 managers at Celtic and he must have felt like starting anew once more. Martin brought in some other players that again Henrik would benefit playing beside, Sutton, Thompson, Lennon, Hartson, along with others in place Petrov, Agathe, McNamara, Bobo, Lambert etc…

The season started well and Celtic with Henrik won their first 6 games, and their next challenger was Oldco who having spent millions (or more precisely had illegally overspent millions, by what we know now) were very confident of beating Celtic as were their good friends in the media.

Things however did not go as planned and Celtic totally annihilated Oldco 6-2, needless to say that game became legendary and known as “The Demolition Derby”. This led on to Celtics first domestic treble since 1969 as Henrik teamed up well with new strike partner Chris Sutton, and just for afters a SFWA footballer of the year award for Henrik to go with the European Golden boot for the highest goal scorer in Europe award to the King of Kings.

Whether Henrik played against Livingston or Liverpool, Motherwell or Manchester, Oldco or Porto, Henrik would score goals and most of them were stunning. Henrik at this point, would never globally receive the status that other players of his calibre did, simply because he played most of his career in Scotland, and it is not regarded as one of the elite leagues, such as Serie A, or La Liga, this is without any doubt whatsoever, one instance, where 60,000 fans inside a stadium were a far better judge of someones ability, than a handful of those so called experts were, and they would very quickly learn this.

They were so wrong and it was of great benefit to us, as supporters we did not want Henrik to move outwith Scotland, we were spoiled and we loved him for it, even if that meant we were selfish and wanted to keep him for ourselves, and Henrik stayed at Celtic even though many other teams including Manchester United tried hard to get him to move, Henrik had decided he liked it at Celtic and his family were happy to be here in Glasgow too.

The record books will show that in season 2002-03 Celtic won absolutely no trophies.

What they will not show however, is, it was their most successful season in many many years, because Henrik and the team were to do something that had long been missing, since the glory days of Jock Stein and the Lisbon Lions.

Celtic would go all the way to the final of a major European competition. And the road to that final was something very very special. Time and again Celtic were written off by the so called experts, they would be drawn against the best in the competition, including a couple billed as “The Battle of Britain”, and time and time again Henrik was there to silence the doubters. Among them Celta Vigo fell, Blackburn fell, Stuttgart fell, even the mighty Liverpool fell to Henrik and Celtic. Pride was again restored to that amazing Celtic support.

Henrik had finally silenced all the doubters, and it was all the more sweeter, as a certain ex-Oldco manager was among one of them, he was taught, as were many pundits, that it’s best to keep your mouth shut until the game is over. The King of Kings did his talking on the field. in a sublime “Here endeth the lesson” fashion.

The final against Porto would be a bridge too far, and is too painful for most to watch again, and for many years I have pondered on the what-ifs, the heat, the squad injuries, the opposition antics, the ref, the sending off, it certainly hurt. Somehow though, amidst the pain, it was one of my proudest moments as a fan, that we had been on a wonderful journey not seen in many years, that once more a Celtic team could compete with the elite that Europe had to offer.

I felt gutted for Celtic, but more so for Henrik, he had carried us there, he had replied twice in the final with two of the best headers you will see anywhere, he should not have been on a losing side in that final, and my heart sunk for Henrik more than for Celtic. Fortunately Henrik would get a second chance at European cup glory, when he signed for Barcelona and helped them to win the Champions League in 2006, no one deserved it more than Henrik.

Henrik Larsson in his time at Celtic was the complete professional, he only appeared on the back pages of newspapers, never the front pages. He was loved by young and old alike and brought joy to many, he could have left for more money like others had, but he gave Celtic more than many others had before him, he is still regarded as the King of Kings by those he brought joy to on so many occasions. No matter which team you followed, Henrik Larsson is one of those extremely rare and immensely talented players you cannot help but admire. He put happiness before money, a lesson many of us can and should learn from.

If you have 15minutes you should watch this clip of all of his 242 goals for Celtic, it still amazes me the variety of goals that he scored, Henrik was predominantly right footed, but he could score with both feet and his ability to spring so high while scoring with his head was second to none. We were truly blessed to have had Henrik Larsson at Celtic for 7 years. Thank you King of Kings.

Hail Hail

The following few words and stats on Henrik (were taken from wikipaedia)

Thierry Henry: (After losing the Champions league final to Barcelona) “People always talk about Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, Ludovic, Giuly, but I didn’t see them today. I saw Henrik Larsson. He came on, he changed the game, you need to talk about the proper footballer who made the difference and that was Henrik Larsson.”

Ronaldinho: (Barcelona legend) I grew to admire Henrik more and more, and I consider Henrik my idol.

Oldco Manager: “Larsson is one of the best strikers in Europe, maybe the world, if you watch Batistuta he is sometimes not seen for 90 minutes but will score 2 goals, Henrik Larsson has even more, besides being a tremendous player and goalscorer, he has a tremendous work rate.”

Sir Alex: In his last game in for us at Middlesborough we were winning 2-1 and Henrik went back to play in midfield and ran his balls off. On his return to the dressing room, all the players stood up and applauded him and the staff joined in. It takes some player to make that kind of impact in two months.”

Henrik won in 7 years with Celtic, 4 Leagues, 2 League cups, 2 Scottish cups, 1 Eufa cup runners up.
Henrik won the Champions League with Barcelona, as well as La Liga, and Supercopa.
In 2004 Henrik was voted the greatest Swedish football player of the last 50 years, by the Swedish FA.
In 2006 Henrik was awarded an MBE.
Swedish Forward of the Year: 2001,2002,2003,2004
Scottish Premier League Golden Boot: 1998–99,2000–01,2001–02,2002–03,2003–04
SFWA Footballer of the Year: 1999,2001
SPFA Players’ Player of the Year: 1999, 2001
European Golden Boot: 2001, as well as honours with Feyenord and Manchester Utd
Henrik won 106 international caps with Sweden playing in 3 Euros and 3 World Cup competitions.
Henrik is currently working as the assistant manager of Barcelona.

Henrik Larsson: “You don’t want to walk in another man’s footsteps, you want to create your own.”

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Big Audio Dynamite
July 15, 2021 6:20 am

From Larrson, Sutton & Moravcik
Albian Ajeti!

How did we get here?


Big Audio Dynamite
July 15, 2021 6:35 am

If Ange thinks 5’6″ Israeli kids are what this team is lacking, he must be having XXXX for breakfast.

And I’ll say it again – If Greg Taylor is now the standard of player we aspire to recruit, we are bang in trouble.

Can anyone see a starting 11 you’d be happy to see start for us, week in and out?

What would explain all the injuries we suffer? Way too many to just be down to luck

“We made some chances” Oh, oh! Did we?!

Big Audio Dynamite
July 15, 2021 6:44 am

Please, not another manager to tell us we just don’t understand what we are looking at. Believe me, we all understand we have a LOT of very average players. Also, we really don’t need a coaching badges (I actually have one) to tell that Greg Taylor is really shit at football!

Was comparing the squad as it is now, with the squad of 2017 👀 …The drop in quality is startling… Someone went a bit overboard with the downsizing,

July 15, 2021 7:11 am

I am off the internet but found a hotspot, glad I got to read that leader. What a player and man Henrik is
Don’t like the sounds of what is going on with the recruiting so far hopefully things get better before I get home this weekend

July 15, 2021 7:33 am

An absolute belter of an article ASWGL

Well done Sir 👏👏👏

Really concerned about the severe lack of strikers for next week !!!!!!


Cosy Corner Bhoy
July 15, 2021 7:34 am

The only hope we can have at the moment, IMO, is that Ange has an eleven organised for the qualifier and that they are playing together against the rest, and I do mean rest, to get some cohesion and a system that they ALL work together!
Not looking to promising though.
Could PL not have been made a NED and still have had his uefa credits?

July 15, 2021 7:36 am


A tremendous and fitting tribute to the great man. Our thanks.

If I’m honest-having seen some great strikers at Celtic-I never thought we could possibly better Jorge Cadete. Henrik didn’t take long to prove me wrong!

July 15, 2021 7:39 am


Latest on The Balearics is that they have been moved to amber IN ENGLAND for those returning from Monday,but no need to isolate on return if double vaccinated AND can provide a clear test within two days.

Best check the online papers for updates.

July 15, 2021 7:47 am


A fantastic article,well done.

“Somehow though, amidst the pain, it was one of my proudest moments as a fan,”

My feelings too. HH

July 15, 2021 7:53 am

Mahe,Bobby ASWGL

Hope you don’t mind bhoys ,I posted this mornings article on CQN

July 15, 2021 8:00 am

Morning all! ASWGL…a great read to start the day, cheers for that! It did bring back some great memories of a brilliant footballer – one of our Greatest!! On holiday in Portugal (2001?) I sought out the Daily Record every day to find out if he’d re-signed, when he finally did, for another couple of years, it absolutely made my holiday. How lucky and fortunate we were to have a guy who’s focus was family and football and was happy with his wages. There’s a lot of guys at our Club today could learn from him.

July 15, 2021 8:03 am


Your superb article on Henrik has made my day. He was the complete footballer and undoubtedly one of the very best to have graced the Hoops. I never tire of watching his goals on video and that chip against the Huns was a magical goal amongst many others. I was at the final in Seville and Henrik deserved to lift the cup but like many I can’t watch that game again. I would love to see him back at Celtic in some capacity. He is sorely missed to this day. Thanks again.

big packy
July 15, 2021 8:29 am

MORNING ALL and JIM, aswgl ,brilliant article, thanks for sharing👍

July 15, 2021 8:32 am

Have a good day all, off to work noo…

July 15, 2021 8:51 am


Not at all,mate. Public domain once published.

Still hoping to make it up for the last fortnight in August. My Mum’s 80th,along wi a wee hoot on the 28th. Hope you and the troops can make it,been a while!

July 15, 2021 8:59 am


Got it penned in mate. Hh

July 15, 2021 9:04 am

Least I thought I had posted it, fekn ersole, in the cab now so no chance of me doing here 😞

July 15, 2021 9:07 am


Brilliant piece, thanks for that.



July 15, 2021 9:09 am


Good to hear you are back on the road,mate!

July 15, 2021 9:16 am

Morning all & Packy.

A brilliant read ASWGL, cheers! 🙂

July 15, 2021 9:21 am


Wonderful, just wonderful!

Thank you!

Squire Danaher
July 15, 2021 9:35 am


A fine read.

Agree that 2002-3 one of the most memorable Celtic seasons despite ending trophyless.

So many positive memories from that era make the current debacle all the more disheartening for it having been entirely preventable.

bada Bing
July 15, 2021 12:16 pm

It was miraculous that we kept Henrik for 7 seasons…..

Garry Postecoglou
July 15, 2021 12:50 pm

Quality read ASWGL.
Really enjoyed reading that article. 👍🍀💚

July 15, 2021 12:55 pm

What is the recruitment plan? Presumably, there is one? There must be a finite budget so it is hard to understand spending 3.5 million on a right winger and occasional striker. JF has that position, KD aspires to it, MJ can play it. In addition we have Montgomery and Moffat as wide players. Yes, it is nice to have another player competing for the jersey but is it a top priority? I hope I am wrong but this looks like another punt to buy low, sell high in two years, or take a loss.

The priorities are RB, CB, and someone to bang in a few goals. That could easily be 12 million plus, yet we spend about one third of that on a second level priority?

Yes, I know it is too early to judge and a proper assessment needs to wait until the end of the window but we have seen this story before, and it usually ends badly. Sved anyone?


July 15, 2021 12:58 pm


If you are reading this,your article is scheduled for tomorrow. Grateful thanks,in advance.

(I don’t have your addy to mail you that info)

bada Bing
July 15, 2021 1:11 pm

Rebus- Mikey Johnston injured yet again, he won’t hold down a place in the team, we squandered millions on Shved, who’s disappeared…..

July 15, 2021 1:15 pm

When the Danes come to town we are going to learn more about the abilities of our new manager/coach. He seems to be an actual coach who will improve the players. He is already doing that. However, it will require more than fitness to get a sizeable lead on the Danes. It will require a winning strategy and in game tactics to do that. Does he have that in his locker? The enthusiasm of the team could sweep the Danes away in the first half hour, or they may be smart enough to lob the ball over our high press and run in behind us and our goalie. If so, the carnage will be both devastating and confidence zapping.

Pre season results tell us nothing about how it will unfold when real football starts. If indeed the Danes are as ill prepared as us, as has been suggested elsewhere, then defeat will be doubly devastating.

A lot of things have to come together at the same time for us to get a result. Ange’s philosophy has to work, players fitness levels need to be at or near peak, players have to become familiar with both their roles and those of their new teammates. I have no idea how this is going to go. I do not think anyone has!


PS if I had to make a prediction, I’d say 2-1 to the Danes. We have too many “ifs”.

July 15, 2021 1:31 pm


You can add a goalkeeper to the list of priorities. Barkas looks terrified and shrinks when he is in goal, Bain doesn’t inspire any confidence and his distribution is suspect. Conor Hazard has some goalkeeping attributes but fearlessness and dominating the goal area are not part of his skill set. We know a Fraser Foster type can win you many games, witness McGregor for the Huns.
No idea how it will pan out against the Danes, Saturday’s game against PNE may tell us more about our team for next Tuesday as well as formation.

July 15, 2021 1:39 pm

This article that contains a letter from Roger Michell ex SPL CEO to Dominic McKay is a must read.

Garry Postecoglou
July 15, 2021 1:39 pm

In my head, I have written off Europe this season.
We are in dire need of a few first team ready players. If Ange is supported, then I feel we can be the top team in Scotland and win the league back.
The competition in Scotland isn’t too difficult to beat.

July 15, 2021 1:46 pm

Thanks for the article on a truly brilliant Celtic player.
Unfortunately we are unlikely to see such quality in the Hoops again while DD holds the reins.
Any player showing potential quality will be hawked off at earliest opportunity to fulfill this boards quest for constant and maximized profit and subsequent bonuses.

St tams
July 15, 2021 2:01 pm

Lovely tribute to Henrik

I actually think that the club have written off Europe this season.
Which is sad , more than anything.

bada Bing
July 15, 2021 2:23 pm

Rumour, Ajer to Brentford, £13.5 million

July 15, 2021 2:43 pm


Thanks for that. Interesting read,indeed. Maybe Mitchell is a lurker on here!

DMcK certainly needs to take heed of this excerpt from it-

“Get your chairman to start earning a wage. He should be your heat shield. Every CEO knows the difference between a good, bad or ugly chairman. Find a good one. Whilst you’re at it, change your Board. It’s looking old and tired.”

July 15, 2021 2:45 pm


The Brentford link has been going around for a while,so I hope he goes there.

saltires en Sevilla
July 15, 2021 2:47 pm


That was the very best thing to get up to today. Much appreciated.

Fantastic mix of research, memories and passion ( are we still allowed to idolise folk … we should be!)

What a wonderful humble man was our Henke, then there was the fitba …

More of this please… can you do a Bobby Lennox version … please.

big packy
July 15, 2021 2:49 pm

AFTERNOON ALL and JIM, we won the european cup in 67, we got to the final in 70, we also got to 2 european cup semi finals,and one eufa cup final, but now we are are getting worried about playing a team from denmark, probably a lot of people have never heard of, why has it come to this, ill tell you why because desmond and the charlatan board only care about the old firm buck,,dermot desmond please gtf out of parkhead, and take your cohorts with you,another true story,

July 15, 2021 2:57 pm

Many many thanks that was a privilege to publish and read.

Some random Henke memories.
I didn’t rate him much that first season, and when dad told me he’s the best striker at the club early in his second I was a little perplexed and maybe upset.
You see I thought Mark Burchill was top bhoy, was our star striker, and was the man we would build the team around and idolize.
I’m still not sure why this never happened, and I thought Henke might hold him back a bit.
I also wanted the local to succeed.
Needless to say his selfish work and variety of goals rather than Marks poaching instincts helped win me over.

Another that stands out for me. I went over for a home tie with Hearts during his last season.
He selfishly chased a through ball that wasnt perfect, both he and the defender ended up running out of bounds at the touchline infront of the Jock.

They turn around and start jogging back into position while the ball got throws the ball to the Jambo’s keeper. All of a sudden while they are passing each other jogging up field the Hearts defender shoves Henke. It was out of the blue, no visor cause, and even the unflappable Henke was like wtf?
However the Jock Stein stand had noticed this , and subsequently erupted. There was a visible surge towards the pitch through instinct, the curses and yells rained down upon the Jambo bassa.
That crowd loved, genuinely loved, Henke by this stage and took an attack upon him as an attack upon themselves, and the protective nature shown towards him that day by most of that stand was a fine example of how he had became one of us. It was nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I won’t forget that little moment that was a snapshot of our relationship with him imo.

I thought he was immense in Seville and like others won’t watch it again. It was an absolute honour to watch him in the Hoops.
Thanks for the memories Henrik.

Til later Hail Hail

July 15, 2021 2:59 pm


An excellent letter from Roger Mitchell to Dom. It raises the many issues that posters on here and elsewhere have been trying to promote for years. Focus on Europe, focus on modern techniques, focus on transparent targeted communication with the Celtic community, while throwing overboard old tired thinking and practices, our Chairman and half the board. No direct mention of Res12 or the 5WA, maybe too contentious. It will interesting to see if Dom makes the type of changes that are being suggested or will he follow his leader. The jury is out as it is too early to judge.

July 15, 2021 3:14 pm

Packy, Hear Hear buddy!

July 15, 2021 3:16 pm

A terrific open letter from Roger Mitchell to Dom McKay. I hope he reads it and takes notes.

Wouldn’t mind seeing Roger in our board as a N.E.D.

big packy
July 15, 2021 3:42 pm

HI JIM, how are you pal, just saying how i see it, desmond has no interest in taking us forward, as long as we get to play the other half, 4 times a season, he will be a happy man, another true story,👍

July 15, 2021 3:47 pm


Thanks for that brilliant article. You brought back some magical memories.

Remember the days under MON when every corner was like a penalty kick? Either Lubo or Petrov on CK duties…with Sutton, BBJ, Bobo, Joos, Johan and others in the box.

Oh, to have those days back.

Hail Hail.

July 15, 2021 3:51 pm

Packy, when Sevco were in the lower leagues I can honestly say I never missed us playing against a team from Ibrox. I couldn’t care less if the new club died like the old one, but this time never to be seen again in any form.
If only that would happen! I suspect DD would be quick off the scene and Celtic could get their focus correct.

July 15, 2021 3:52 pm

Brilliant article, many thanks for that.

We are bang in trouble this season, I fear that the new manager will require years and big investment to adapt to his style of play. We appear to have neither.

big packy
July 15, 2021 3:57 pm

JIM, that would be the one thing that would kindle my love for celtic again, if desmond finally leaves the gates of paradise and takes lawwell bankier etc with him, bhoy would i party that night,👍

July 15, 2021 4:09 pm

Packy, you would need to be lucky to see him leaving the gates of paradise. He rarely ever sets foot in the place! Whether for matches or AGMs. LOL 🙂

big packy
July 15, 2021 4:24 pm

JIM, angelas funeral mass takes place at st anthonys catholic church in scotland road liverpool on the 27th of july, that was where she was baptized, christened, made her first holy communion, confirmed,,st anthonys is the oldest catholic church in liverpool a lovely chapel ive been in there,👍 this is what she wants played as the coffin leaves the chapel,,,,

July 15, 2021 4:28 pm

It was always a matter of time before the LNS Decision would come back and bite the SPFL on the arse. Killie looking for consistency. Arent we all?

Hypocrisy writ large in Ben Hur movie advert font. No question of dishonesty yet still points deducted. Where is LNS now?