Larsson returns for Sweden EURO bid
Before revealing the players who would make up Sweden's UEFA EURO 2008™ squad in Stockholm today, coach Lars Lagerbäck announced that they would be read out in a random order. Apparently not, for when he got to the 23rd and final name, a cheer went through the Swedish press corps – Henrik Larsson was back.
The 36-year-old retired from international football following Sweden's elimination by Germany at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but remained in Lagerbäck's thoughts as he continued to impress at Helsingborgs IF, for whom he has scored six goals in eleven Allsvenskan outings this season. "There's been a glow about Henrik and his football throughout the spring," Lagerbäck said. "And I know that he looks like he's enjoying his football, he's playing good football. I thought about him returning during Helsingborg's UEFA Cup campaign, when Henrik played a big part in the team's success."
Larsson even made an appearance at the conference, albeit via a mobile phone link after journalists had asked to hear his thoughts. The former Feyenoord, Celtic FC, FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC striker said: "When I said I was retiring, I was in a disappointed frame of mind. I wasn't happy with our performance in that match against Germany, and I wasn't happy with my own performance either. At that point I didn't know that I'd keep playing football for as long as this – or that I would enjoy it as much as I am right now. Lars Lagerbäck phoned me yesterday while I was out playing golf. When I checked my voicemail I made a quick decision to say 'yes'."
While Sweden welcomed back one veteran, another will not be travelling to EURO as Teddy Lucic resisted the call. Other surprises were scarce, with Fredrik Stoor of Rosenborg BK earning selection ahead of Halmstad BK's Peter Larsson, and Johan Wiland of IF Elfsborg claiming the third goalkeeping spot. Tobias Linderoth is included despite not having played this year, but will be replaced by Kennedy Bakircioglu if he fails to prove his fitness at a pre-finals training camp.
Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (Manchester City FC), Rami Shaaban (Hammarby), Johan Wiland (IF Elfsborg).
Defenders: Mikael Dorsin (CFR 1907 Cluj), Petter Hansson (Stade Rennais FC), Daniel Majstorovic (FC Basel 1893), Olof Mellberg (Aston Villa FC), Mikael Nilsson (Panathinaikos FC), Andreas Granqvist (Wigan Athletic FC), Fredrik Stoor (Rosenborg BK).
Midfielders: Niclas Alexandersson (IFK Göteborg), Daniel Andersson (Malmö FF), Kim Källström (Olympique Lyonnais), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham City FC), Fredrik Ljungberg (West Ham United FC), Tobias Linderoth (Galatasaray AS), Christian Wilhelmsson (RC Deportivo La Coruña), Anders Svensson (IF Elfsborg).
Forwards: Marcus Allbäck (FC København), Henrik Larsson (Helsingborgs IF), Johan Elmander (Toulouse FC), Zlatan Ibrahimović (FC Internazionale Milano), Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen).