Signed from Feyenoord for just £650,000 in July 1997, few would have dreamt that Swedish striker Henrik Larsson would go on to become one of the greatest players in Celtic's rich history.
But with 242 goals in 313 games, four Scottish Premier League titles and four domestic cup successes, Larsson's fairytale seven-season spell at Parkhead ensured his legendary status before he left to join Barcelona in 2004.
He was the complete centre-forward: outstanding in the air, quick across the ground, able to finish confidently and accurately with either foot and from any distance. And, as such, Larsson scored more than his share of spectacular goals.
Here, we recount five of Larsson's best Celtic goals.
- 1 Celtic 6-2 Rangers August 27, 2000 – The Incredible Chip
- 2 Boavista 0-1 Celtic April 24, 2003 – Larsson Fires Celtic Into The UEFA Cup Final
- 3 Celtic 2-3 Porto May 21, 2003 – Final Heroics
- 4 Celtic 3-3 Rangers October 6, 2003 – Stunning Volley in a Six-goal Classic
- 5 Celtic 3-1 Dunfermline Athletic May 22, 2004 – A Fitting Farewell
Celtic 6-2 Rangers August 27, 2000 – The Incredible Chip
Celtic had interrupted Rangers' SPL dominance in the 1997/98 season, ending their bitter rivals' hopes of claiming a tenth straight title. Although the Gers reclaimed the trophy in each of the next two campaigns, 2000/01 was set to be the Hoops' year, and this August Old Firm clash marked a statement of intent for Martin O'Neill's side.
A broken leg meant Larsson missed all four Old Firm derbies the season before, and the Swede was clearly eager to make an impression on his return to the fixture here.
Latching onto a Chris Sutton knock down, he nutmegged the Rangers defender before nonchalantly chipping Stefan Klos, half of a brace he bagged that afternoon.
Boavista 0-1 Celtic April 24, 2003 – Larsson Fires Celtic Into The UEFA Cup Final
After drawing the first leg of their UEFA Cup semi-final 1-1 on home turf, Celtic travelled to Portugal to take on Boavista with their place in the final far from assured.
A tense encounter ensued. With ten minutes to play and the game tied at 0-0, the Bhoys were facing elimination on away goals. That's when Larsson popped up to save the day.
Exchanging a one-two with John Hartson, Larsson broke into the penalty area and rifled the ball into the net, sending the away support delirious and booking Celtic's ticket for the final in Seville.
Celtic 2-3 Porto May 21, 2003 – Final Heroics
Up against José Mourinho's high-flying Porto, who would go on to win the Champions League 12 months later, Celtic were underdogs.
Twice they went behind and twice Larsson pulled his side back into the game, until an extra-time Derlei goal ultimately sealed victory for the Portuguese team.
Larsson's first goal of the evening, less than two minutes into the second half, was of particular aesthetic beauty. Pulling away from his marker at the far post, he connected with a deep cross from the right to send a header arcing beyond Vitor Baia and into the far corner.
Celtic 3-3 Rangers October 6, 2003 – Stunning Volley in a Six-goal Classic
Another Old Firm classic, albeit with a slightly less favourable outcome for Celtic. The thrilling 3-3 draw at Celtic Park in the 2002/03 season provided no shortage of entertainment and Larsson was again at centre stage.
Late in the first half with the home side a goal down, Celtic worked the ball out wide to Mohammed Sylla on the right. His low cross picked out Larsson in the penalty area and the Swede did the rest.
With a defender on his back, 15 yards from goal, Larsson controlled the ball with his right foot before spinning and volleying into the top corner with his left. He would score again in the second half before Chris Sutton secured a point for the Hoops with 12 minutes to play.
Celtic 3-1 Dunfermline Athletic May 22, 2004 – A Fitting Farewell
Larsson signed off his Celtic career in typical fashion, netting twice in the Scottish Cup final against Dunfermline at Hampden Park.
The brace took his cumulative, all-competitions goals tally in green and white to 242, and fittingly helped his team secure major silverware.
His first strike of the game saw the then-32-year-old collect a long ball over the top from Sutton.
The Swede capitalised when the covering Dunfermline defender, Aaron Labonte, misjudged the trajectory of the pass, before curling a delicious finish into the bottom right corner.
That would have been a fine way to close out his Celtic stay, but Larsson's second goal of the game was even better.
Controlling a pass from Alan Thompson on the edge of the penalty area, Larsson instantly spun away from the close attention of his marker, Labonte again, before expertly picking out the far corner of the goal with his left foot.