“I knew I was important there.”
Larsson was the club’s talisman and key player Celtic overtook Rangers after a decade of living in their shadow.
Henrik Larsson at Celtic.
The forward also remained with the club during the peak years. In modern football, it is difficult to imagine a world class player staying in Scotland for the majority of their career.
Yet, Larsson, across his seven years with the club, rebuffed several offers to leave Celtic – including one from Manchester United.
He remained with the Scottish club until 2004, when he joined Barcelona on a free-transfer aged 32.
The Swede would go on to win the European Cup with Barcelona.
Why Henrik Larsson didn’t leave Celtic during his peak years.
Larsson has since said there were four reasons why he didn’t leave Celtic earlier in his career. Firstly, he was happy being a key player for the Scottish side.
“Loyal to Celtic yes but also having the experience that I had in Holland where I wasn’t really happy on the pitch,” he told Sky Sports.
“I didn’t play week in, week out which I needed to do. Which is what I found back again at Celtic. I knew I was important there.”
“I was really happy at Celtic.”
Larsson also said that Celtic had a strong team at the time, and were regularly competing in Europe. The financial incentives to move to the Premier League weren’t enough to tempt him. And Larsson also said his family was happy living in Glasgow.
“We had a good team at the time so for me, there was no reason [to leave] because we played in the Europa League or the Champions League.
“And I mean, to go down to the English Premier League to earn maybe five, ten grand more a week, it wasn’t an option for me.
“Jordan [his son] wasn’t that old, he was happy in Scotland, my wife was happy in Scotland so for me, there was no reason to go down to south [to Man United] even though it was a great club.
“It was tough to say no but I was really happy at Celtic and I felt especially under Martin O’Neill that we had something good going on and the players he brought in were fantastic players.”
Larsson would achieve great success with Barcelona after he left Celtic. He then starred for Man United in a brief loan spell before retiring with Helsingborgs in his native Sweden.