Larsson says hello again to Sweden - thanks to his son

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The Independent Football

If the way to a man's heart is through his child, then the best-known boy in Scotland can expect to have plenty of people falling at his feet in the next month. Jordan Larsson is not quite seven years old yet. He speaks with a Glaswegian accent that does justice to his birth in the city shortly after his father arrived to work there in 1997. It was this persuasive tongue that prompted his dad, Henrik, to say "yes" to Sweden.

Now Celtic supporters will hope that Larsson Jnr, who plays on the Parkhead turf with the offspring of Johan Mjallby and Chris Sutton after every home game, will force a similar change of heart and prevent the club's talisman from leaving the east end of Glasgow in the summer.

Henrik's decision to play for Sweden in Euro 2004 came after a nationwide campaign back home that swept up the royal family and even Lennart Johansson. But it was little Jordan who counted most of all in tempting his father back to the international stage he gave up after the 2002 World Cup finals.

"It was humbling that people like Lennart Johansson wanted me to go, but it was my family who changed my mind," Larsson said. "Jordan is really interested in football now. He asked me, 'Daddy, why don't you play for Sweden?' I told him it was because of him. When I left to go to the World Cup finals he was very upset at me going away for such a long period.

"But he wants me to play and I have the support of my family, so I'm looking forward to playing. I have missed not being involved in international football for the last two years. At first, when you have a few days off and can spend time with the family or go and play golf, it is nice. But now I am ready to play again, and maybe the break has put an extra year or two on to my career."

Does that open the door for a u-turn at Celtic? Larsson says he intends to bow out now from Celtic to protect his reputation there as an icon. Today he and the Celtic side will receive the Scottish Premier League trophy after the home match with Dunfermline Athletic - by a quirk of fate, the side who will provide Larsson's curtain call in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on 22 May.

"I know people will say that because I've changed my mind with Sweden, I might do the same with Celtic," Larsson said. "But I can say now that won't happen. I've had seven great years here, but I am leaving in the summer and nothing will change that. I want to end on a high. I've had such a good time here and that's why these last few games are hard for me.

"I am close to tears every time I run out at the moment because I know I only have a few games left. I think I will be in tears when the time finally comes to say goodbye, but that's only because the club and fans have been so good to me. It is emotional when I hear the fans sing my name and hear that they want me to stay, but I am sticking to my decision."

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