Henrik Larsson has admitted he regrets not having the chance to play for Manchester United longer than three months back in 2007.
The striker signed for Man United on loan after rejoining Helsingborg in the January transfer window and immediately impressed supporters with his silky movement and superb understanding on the pitch.
United wanted to extend his loan deal beyond three months, but Larsson had promised his family they would return to Sweden on March 12. Sir Alex Ferguson noted soon after his departure that he would have done anything to keep him at Old Trafford.
“He’s been fantastic for us, his professionalism, his attitude, everything he’s done has been excellent,” he said.
“We would love him to stay but, obviously, he has made his promise to his family and Helsingborg and I think we should respect that – but I would have done anything to keep him.”
And Larsson, speaking earlier this week, has admitted that, looking back, he regretted not spending more time at United and truly making his mark on the club.
“That’s the only regret in my career that I didn’t stay on,” he said.
“Manchester United was fantastic – the way they took care of me and the family. At the time the family lived in Sweden, they travelled back and forth. I remember I had to go to a christening of my brother’s eldest son. They arranged a fantastic trip for me to be able to go there so it was a great club to be a part of even though it was a short time.
“As I said, [it was] the only regret but I promised my son and my wife, and my daughter was so young so she didn’t really care that we should go home after Barcelona and we did for a short spell and then this came up and I couldn’t say no because I knew it was a fantastic experience for me to go there and play among the players.”
There are some players who inexplicably fit like a glove at United. Rafael, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Ji-Sung Park, Patrice Evra, Gary Neville, Darren Fletcher and many others weren’t the best players in the world, yet something just seemed to click with them. They simply understood, and it was made manifest on the pitch.
Larsson fits into this category. He only made seven appearances in the Premier League under Sir Alex Ferguson, three below the number needed to claim a Premier League winners medal, but the club lobbied to have him given one nonetheless. Such was the impact his performances had in such a short space of time – an important demonstration that, sometimes, the ‘best’, most high profile player isn’t always the right player.