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Larsson looking for more glory

Published: Wednesday 20 August 2003, 21.22CET
After the disappointment of the 2003 UEFA Cup final, Henrik Larsson is hungry for success.

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Published: Wednesday 20 August 2003, 21.22CET

Larsson looking for more glory

After the disappointment of the 2003 UEFA Cup final, Henrik Larsson is hungry for success.
By Ken Martin

Henrik Larsson is used to breaking records. The Celtic FC forward first made history in the 2000/01 season when he scored 53 goals, setting a Scottish record and claiming the ESM Golden Shoe in the process. Since then his form has shown no signs of drying up.

British record
Last week saw Larsson overtake the British record for European goals - held by Liverpool FC's Ian Rush and Peter Lorimer of Leeds United AFC - with his 31st strike in continental competition in Celtic's 4-0 victory against MTK Hungária FC in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. However the Swedish striker has characteristically played down his achievement.

Team player
"It's nice to get the record but this is not something that I think about at the moment," he told uefa.com. "I will probably enjoy looking back on times like this at the end of my career but the most important thing right now is about playing my part for the team. To win the game is all we are concerned about and it does not matter who scores."

Dream start
Didier Agathe, Stilian Petrov and Chris Sutton added to Larsson's historic strike to give Celtic a commanding advantage over MTK going into the second leg of their qualifier at Celtic Park. Having beaten FBK Kaunus of Lithuania home and away in the second round, the Scottish giants have made a dream start to their European campaign. Moreover, Martin O'Neill's men have responded perfectly to the disappointment of losing the final of the UEFA Cup to FC Porto last season.

Second chance
"The UEFA Cup was a very low moment for all of us, especially to lose like that in extra time," said the 31-year-old. "We came so close but coming second counts for nothing. After an experience like that, all you want is the chance to put things right. We really battled hard in Europe last season, but we are motivated even more now."

No slips
Celtic may have reached a European final last year, but have struggled to make an impact in the Champions League in recent years, failing to qualify from their group in 2001/02 and losing to FC Basel in the third qualifying round last season. Larsson says his side are determined not to slip up again this time around.

Learning curve
"Our experiences over the last few years have definitely meant we have learned how to play in Europe," he said. "We are a bit cleverer now and do the things we have to in order to get through. The pressure is off for the second leg against MTK but the tie isn't over. We've done well so far, and we know we can play even better at Celtic Park. If we get through, we have no idea who we will be with in the Champions League, so there is no point thinking that far ahead."

Domestic rivalry
There is also the small matter of the Scottish Premier League and Celtic will be fighting hard to wrest back the title from their rivals Rangers FC who edged them out on goal difference last season. The domestic battle will be fierce, but Larsson - who retired from international football last season - has his sights set on European glory with Celtic before hanging up his boots.

'Big ambitions'
"I would love to have a good run in Europe this season," said Larsson. "This is a big club with big ambitions. After last year people might be a bit more aware of us, but if we do make it through to the Champions League, that will be another step up. We will then be among the very best teams in Europe, and that is tough company."

Henrik Larsson's personal website is at www.icons.com

Last updated: 21/08/03 16.56CET

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