Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


A heartwarming story about Henrik Larsson from St. Mirren manager Jim Goodwin

Henrik Larsson was a superstar for Celtic on the field and set the same standards off the field, if this James Goodwin story is any evidence.

St. Mirren manager Jim Goodwin joined Nathan Murphy on The Football Show and produced a wonderful story about Henrik Larsson.

Few icons exist globally the way Henrik Larsson does.

The braided striker made his name at Celtic. He prolonged his stay in Scotland as the best player in the Scottish Premier League for much longer than anyone expected him to. He received national and international acclaim for his performances on the pitch so there are few bigger fan favourites who have played for Celtic.

Or played for anyone.

Larsson went on to play for Manchester United and Barcelona towards the end of his career. No matter the level, he always stood out as a classy footballer. Technically brilliant, intelligent and capable of scoring any type of wondergoal. He was also a highly-respected professional.

The type of footballer who is respected by the best footballers in the world, spanning different generations of the game.

Jim Goodwin played for Celtic in his youth. He was there during Larsson's prime years. While Goodwin never broke through into the senior squad at Celtic, he did find himself in close proximity to Larsson during some of his days in Glasgow.

"A fantastic guy, yeah," Goodwin said.

"Obviously another iconic figure. You talk about the number seven jersey, spoke about Kenny Dalglish wore it, Jimmy Johnston wore it and obviously Henrik has worn it as well. You've got to be a top, top player to wear that jersey at Park Head. Henrik was obviously a fantastic player. He scored some unbelievable goals for the club."

Larsson infamously broke his leg in horrific fashion. He spent a long time on the sidelines. Coincidentally, Goodwin had an injury of his own during that time, which meant the two began to work in the gym while doing rehabilitation. Larsson helped Goodwin even while he was focusing on his own recovery.

"But he was such a down-to-earth person as well. I was fortunate enough to have trained with him. Fortunate enough to have worked with him closely in the gym. Both him and I were injured at one time. He was coming back from his serious leg break and we kind of got to know each other. Obviously he was a lot older than I was but he was very forthcoming with advice, with some words of wisdom.

"Just a top, top professional."

But that's not where it ended for Goodwin. He then told The Football Show a story that shocked him at the time. A heartwarming story that reveals just why Larsson is so respected off the pitch.

"When I left Celtic at 20. Martin O'Neill was in charge. I knew...with the caliber of player they were bringing in at my position, there was no way in the world I was going to get a run in the team. So I took the difficult decision...knocked back the 12 month contract that Martin O'Neill had offered me.

"I chose to go to England to try and further my career.

"I had been down at Stockport for about just over a year, I came back up with my wife and we ended up out having a few drinks in Glasgow one night. We ended up in a bar that Henrik was in...he was over in the corner of the bar and my brother-in-law Paul who is a huge Celtic fan, a ridiculous Celtic fan, he was encouraging me all night to go over and say hello and introduce him.

"Obviously I was telling him 'Look, leave the guy alone. He's out for a night and he doesn't want to be hassled by people like me and you. He probably doesn't even remember who I am anyway.'

"Very shortly after that he saw me at the bar. He came over, he sat with me and my family for a couple of hours at least. And he was able to tell me where I was, the games I was playing in, the goals I scored. It was incredible that he was still keeping a close eye on someone like me who really probably shouldn't have mattered that much to him.

"He was still interested to know how we were all getting on. Not just myself. He was able to rhyme off two or three of the other lads who had left at the same time as me. He knew where they were and what they were up to as well.

"It's a mark of the man really."

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Celtic Henrik Larsson James Goodwin St Mirren