Celtic hero Henrik Larsson has thrown his weight behind the Scottish FA’s elite coaching programme.
The legendary striker was part of an all-star line-up for the second masterclass in a series developed by Performance Director Malky Mackay and his staff, with the likes of Eric Black and Kenny Dalglish also involved in the two-day event in Edinburgh this week.
With an emphasis on attacking – after highly-rated Burnley boss Sean Dyche previously presented on the art of defending – Larsson talked attendees through a compilation of some of his greatest goals and he was only too happy to accept the invitation to return to his adopted home.
Henrik, how did your visit come about?
I’ve known Malky Mackay for a long time. He was at Celtic when I signed for the club so I didn’t have to think twice when he asked me to help out. It was also a great chance to catch up with a few other former team-mates, like Alan Stubbs, Darren Jackson and Tommy Johnson. Scottish football did so much for me and my family, on and off the pitch, so I’m always happy to help out if I can.
You were a guest presenter on the two-day masterclass. What was your take on the event itself?
I really liked the format of it. I think it can only be a good thing to have so many coaches in one room exchanging ideas and thoughts about the game. Everyone there had Scottish football at heart and that’s the only way to grow and improve. If the game here is to keep getting better then a lot of the people in attendance will play a big part in that. I was happy to share my own experiences of what I feel works and doesn’t work.
For all you’ve achieved in the game, you were noticeably hanging on Kenny Dalglish’s every word.
It’s to the credit of Malky and the Scottish FA that they were able to attract guests of the calibre of Eric Black and Kenny Dalglish. They experience and knowledge they’ve accumulated is incredible and it would be crazy not to try and take advantage of that. You have to pick the brains of people who have been involved in the game for such a long time and Kenny’s knowledge, in particular, is second to none.
What do you hope people took away from your own presentation?
I tried to put a lot of thought into it and go into real detail about each of the goals in the video, about how I approached and reacted to various in-game situations. Even if the coaches only took away one thing from what I said, hopefully it can play a part in creating some good strikers for Scotland. Malky’s doing the right thing by placing a real emphasis on educating the coaches because they’re the important guys who will work with the kids. That’s where you make a real impact.
The game here obviously still means a great deal to you.
It does. I think it’s important that Scottish kids grow up with Scottish heroes that inspire them to kick a ball in the first place. I look back to the players I looked up to when I was growing up in Sweden and we need to encourage that here again.