Open Goal: Sutton on Larsson – “He was a phenomenal player”

Chris Sutton’s appearance on Open Goal was always going to be interesting. Here’s what the former Celtic striker had to say about his lethal partnership with the King of Kings, Henrik Larsson…

“I was aware of him, but the Swedes are a funny lot, they’re kind of moody,” Sutton said.“But we were on the coach to Denmark for a game and I said to him ‘I’m here to help you, if I see you in a better position I will pass it to you’ and from that day on he was as good as gold.

“He was a phenomenal player but the best thing about him was, well I always thought, was that he was so unselfish. He was a brilliant finisher but also a great team player.

Celtic Legends arrive at Parkhead (L-R) John Harrison, Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton before the UEFA Champions League Match between Celtic and Paris Saint Germain at Celtic Park Stadium on September 12, 2017. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

“He could’ve played in a number of positions and play them well. He had a great football brain. He was very individual in terms of his goal scoring numbers and he was the best, in terms of any strike partnership that I’ve had, he was the best.

“That’s not a dig at Alan Shearer but when I was at Blackburn with Shearer, that was when I was 20, by the time I was at Celtic I knew my game better.”

27 Aug 2000: Chris Sutton and Henrik Larsson of Celtic during the Scottish Premier League match against Rangers at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Celtic won the game 6 – 2. Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster /Allsport

Thinking back to Larsson in the 6-2 game, Sutton recalled: “It was 3-1 or 3-2 but Larsson scores his goal where he jinks past four of them and that’s where he was just a cut above. You know how difficult it is with the ball running away from you and it’s a big game, an enormous moment, and then you scoop it over the keeper?

“That’s a ridiculous skill. You think you’d need to be an idiot or a genius to do that. There’s nothing in between. And you know, he could do that a lot. To have the audacity to do that was incredible.”

After a magnificent seven incredible years wearing the Hoops, Henrik left to join Barcelona, he also later had a short spell at Manchester Utd. Sutton loves the fact that Larsson was successful AFTER his time at Celtic because it sent out a message at just how good a team Celtic had in those days.

15 Apr 2001: Henrik Larsson of Celtic (centre) celebrates with team mates Alan Thompson (right) and Chris Sutton after giving Celtic a two-nil lead during the Semi Final of the Tennents Scottish Cup between Celtic and Dundee United. Photo  Stu Forster/ALLSPORT

“We knew it was never going to be the same again and there was a sort of hollow feeling. But nobody could begrudge him that move. I always liked the fact that he shoved two fingers up to everybody who badmouthed the Scottish league. He scored goals at international level and at Champions League level and didn’t really get the recognition for it.

“There was still a feeling of ‘Oh, it’s Scottish football.’ And then he went to Barcelona and won them the Champions League with his display in the final, and went to Manchester United when he was ‘done’ and the United fans loved him.

“He was brilliant for them and that was at the end of his career. Imagine if he had gone in his prime? How could you replace him?”

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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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