Martin O’Neill Recalls Larsson Row sorted by Bobo Balde

Martin O’Neill joined Chris Sutton, Henrik Larsson , John Hartson and other Celtic stars from around two decades ago for a Q&A session at the Hydro earlier in the week which went down a storm with the Celtic support. The legends were quizzed on various things about their time with the club and told some hilarious anecdotes throughout the night.

One such story came from our former manager Martin O’Neill, when he spoke of the only time he had harsh words with our Magnificent Seven, Henrik Larsson. Larsson was a phenomenon during his time with Celtic Football Club, earning the status of a Deity after scoring 242 goals in 315 games at Paradise.

Now Martin O’Neill revealed the only time he had an argument with Henrik was during a match at Tannadice against Dundee United. Martin insisted that everyone at Celtic was terrified of Henrik – including himself – and would never dare call the Swede out if he was having an average game by his own meteoric standards.

Glasgow Celtic Manager Martin O’Neill (C) hugs Celtic player Henrik Larsson as they celebrate the team’s 1-0 victory in the UEFA Cup semi-final match against Boavista FC April 24, 2003 at the Bessa Stadium in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

O’Neill insisted however, that on this particular occasion he felt the need to day something to Larsson after a pretty poor first half at Tannadice. Speaking at the Q&A, as reported by Football Scotland the former Celtic manager said: “There was one day in particular, it was at Tannadice against Dundee United. Like everybody else, I’m getting old now and memory plays tricks on you, so the story that I might think that happened… may never have happened at all. I have to say, for Henrik’s standards, that first-half at Tannadice, he was crap.

“He was absolutely crap. He was flicking it here, flicking it there, round the corner to no-one. I just thought, ‘I’m going to have to say something’. I know the fans behind the goal would have said, ‘no, Martin. You are not going to speak to Henrik like that’. What I did say was, ‘Henrik, for Christ’s sake, get a hold of the bloody ball. Get hold of the ball’.

Stiliyan Petrov with Henrik Larsson and Bobo Balde after scoring. Photo by Barrington Coombs

“I think Henrik’s rhetoric was, something like, ‘something) off’. I think it was that… it might have been couched in a different language. He had this infuriating habit Henrik, when you do annoy him, he goes and talks to his mate Mjallby in Swedish. So, I had no idea what they were talking about, except I hear the name ‘O’Neill’ coming up!

“I’m thinking, ‘they are having a go at me?’ Anyway, to finish the story, I said to Bobo… ‘go and sort it out Bobo’. And he did! And second-half, Larsson scored three.”

So, there you have it. Big Bobo solved the one-time issue between our Super Swede and the boss. Bobo’s gonnae get ye!

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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