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Celtic showdown in hero's home town

Published: Friday 17 August 2012, 13.03CET
Celtic FC visit the birthplace of one of their favourite past players, Henrik Larsson, when they take on Helsingborgs IF, with UEFA Champions League football the prize.
Celtic showdown in hero's home town
Henrik Larsson is revered by Helsingborg and Celtic fans ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 17 August 2012, 13.03CET

Celtic showdown in hero's home town

Celtic FC visit the birthplace of one of their favourite past players, Henrik Larsson, when they take on Helsingborgs IF, with UEFA Champions League football the prize.

Two clubs with a common hero will compete for a place in the UEFA Champions League when Helsingborgs IF host Celtic FC in the first leg of their play-off.

• Henrik Larsson remains an icon to both Helsingborg and Celtic supporters and his sea-front statue in the town, his birthplace, will doubtless be a must-see for the travelling Scottish fans.

• Helsingborg have got this far thanks to victories over The New Saints FC (3-0 agg) and WKS Śląsk Wrocław (6-1 agg) while Celtic beat HJK Helsinki 4-1 in their third qualifying round tie.

Match background
• Helsingborg are hoping to roll back the years to the turn of the millennium and their only previous qualification for the group stage, achieved following a shock victory over FC Internazionale Milano.

• Helsingborg claimed Inter's scalp in the 2000/01 third qualifying round after Michael Hansson's solitary goal in the first leg in Sweden settled the tie. Today's Helsingborg squad includes four players who featured against Inter – Christoffer Andersson, Álvaro and Erik Wahlstedt, who started both matches, and Mattias Lindström, a late substitute at San Siro.

• Helsingborg have had less luck in qualifiers recently, missing out on the UEFA Europa League group stage in 2009/10 and 2011/12. Their last run in Europe of note was to the last 32 of the UEFA Cup in 2007/08.

• Celtic are looking to return to the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2008/09 season, since when they have lost to Arsenal FC in the 2009/10 play-offs and SC Braga in the 2010/11 third qualifying round.

• European Cup winners in 1967, Celtic have contested six campaigns in the modern UEFA Champions League but they have never faced Swedish opposition before.

• This will be Helsingborg's first competitive meeting with Scottish opponents.

Team ties
• Henrik Larsson hit 242 goals in 315 competitive appearances for Celtic between 1997 and 2004 during a career which featured two spells with Helsingborg – first from 1992-93 and then from 2006-09. When Larsson hung up his boots, Helsingborg retired his No17 shirt.

• As Norway coach, Helsingborg boss Åge Hareide oversaw a 0-0 draw in Scotland in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying, in which Celtic's Scott Brown featured for the home side.

• Celtic's Mikael Lustig was in Sweden's UEFA EURO 2012 squad with Helsingborg's Pär Hansson and is a former Under-21 colleague of Walid Atta. Atta, meanwhile, was briefly a team-mate of Celtic's Mohamed Bangura at AIK Solna in 2010.

• Helsingborg's Erik Edman played for Sweden alongside Celtic's assistant coach Johan Mjällby – both were in their country's UEFA EURO 2004 squad.

• Celtic's Giorgos Samaras was in the Greece side beaten 2-0 by Sweden at UEFA EURO 2008.

• Helsingborg reserve goalkeeper Daniel Andersson played in Scotland for Hibernian FC from 2003-04. He appeared in five matches against Celtic, losing four of them – including a 6-0 drubbing at Celtic Park.

• Helsingborg's new recruit Alejandro Bedoya spent last season with Celtic's rivals Rangers FC.

• Alfred Finnbogason, who ended his loan spell at Helsingborg when joining sc Heerenveen on 16 August, spent part of his childhood in Edinburgh while his father studied in the city and played football for the reputed boys' club Hutchison Vale as well as regularly attending matches at Hibs' Easter Road stadium.

Last updated: 21/08/12 12.32CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2013/matches/round=2000346/match=2009469/prematch/background/index.html#celtic+showdown+heros+home+town

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