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Posted March. 09, 2007 05:41,   


As walking off the field after being replaced 30 minutes into the second half, he received a standing ovation from 75,000 fans.

Henrik Larsson, 36, is the veteran striker who was leased to Manchester United from Helsingborg, Sweden, on January 1. He had agreed to join Manchester for ten weeks ahead of the start of the Swedish League in April, and during his short stay he has become a Manchester hero.

It began on March 8, in the second round of the sixteenth-finals of the 2006~2007 Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Champions League, against Lille (France) at Old Trafford, Manchester. 27 minutes into the second half, Larsson headed truly a crossed ball from Cristiano Ronaldo, leading Manchester to a 1-0 victory. With this and the 1-0 victory on February 21, Manchester secured a ticket to the eighth-finals for the first time in four years.

Larsson will now return to Helsingborg. Even though there is still the Football Association (FA) eighth-finals match against Middlesbrough, on March 11, it will be an away match, meaning that the match against Lille was his farewell stage for the Manchester fans. That is why the fans loudly applauded his glorious exit.

Sweden’s star striker, Larsson, who has run in the World Cup three times, took part in 12 matches for Manchester and scored three goals. It may not be a big number, but each of his goals came at crucial moments in the three Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup matches, helping Manchester toward fulfilling their dream of winning a triple crown; it would be their first time in eight years, after the 1998-1999 season.

Larsson could stay at Manchester, but he remains loyal to his team, saying, “The Swedish League is going to start soon, and Helsingborg does not have enough time to find another striker. I must go back.”

Meanwhile, Park Ji-sung, 26, replaced Wayne Rooney 37 minutes into the second half of the match, and including add-on time, ran for 11 minutes. Park is the first Korean player to run for four straight seasons in the Champions League. Starting from when he was at PSV Einthoven (Netherlands) in the 2003-2004 season, he has played on the stage of his dreams for four consecutive years; but has not been able to leave a strong impression because of consistently short game time.