Football

Henrik Larsson: Martin O'Neill's Celtic Would Have Made Top 4 In England

Henrik Larsson: Martin O'Neill's Celtic Would Have Made Top 4 In England

It's something that pops up time and time again, although since the demise of Rangers it's now only about one side instead of two... Could the best Scotland has to offer hold their own in the Premier League?

It's also something we'll likely never know, but that hasn't stopped the debate raging for years and there's no doubting it reached it's peak when Martin O'Neill was Celtic boss and the club managed to reach the UEFA Cup final in 2003. While Rangers were also a strong side, many thought that the two Glasgow giants would cause a stir in the Premier League, and it turns out that nobody believed this more than Henrik Larrson.

Speaking with Chris Sutton for a look back on the Swede's outstanding career, Larsson was explaining why his move to Barcelona was never about 'proving himself' when he was asked how he thought that Seville side would get on in England.

Without a moment's thought, Larsson stated that the side which featured himself, Chris Sutton, and John Hartson as striking options would have comfortably made the top four and qualified for the Champions League..

I proved my ability at the World Cup in 2002, so for me [moving to Barcelona] wasn't a question of proving myself. I played a few games, I played in the Champions League, and I scored a few goals in my first season, and obviously not always starting because it was a very good lineup, but I was well over that [proving myself] when I was at that age.

Because I knew that I'd scored against English teams because that's always the comparison that you're gonna get, especially when you're playing up here. I think Scottish football was underrated, I don't think people down south really understood what a great team we had at the time.

In the Premier League, at that time, with that team, I would say top four without a doubt.

Celtic beat Blackburn and Liverpool - who finished 6th and 5th respectively in the Premier League that season - on their way to the UEFA Cup final in 2003, so it's understandable that Larsson would measure himself up against what he played against, and beat.

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And it wasn't just the strike force either. That side featured the likes of Johann Mjallby, Jackie McNamara, Neil Lennon, Alan Thompson, Stiliyan Petrov, and an ageing Paul Lambert. It truly was a magnificent team.

It's the type of line that might be scoffed at by English football fans, but back in 2003 at the peak of their powers, it's hard to deny that Larrson at the very least has an argument.

You can watch a snippet of the interview with Chris Sutton below, and make sure to catch the full thing on BT Sport.

[via @CelticGoals on Twitter]

Mikey Traynor

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