Henrik Larsson, the 36 year old Swedish legend, has been coaxed out of retirement once again to come to the aid of Sweden in Euro 2008. Larsson, who has retired twice from international football, in 2002 and 2006, was the suprise name in the Swedish squad that Lagerback released today.
The striker who wowed fans at Celtic, Manchester United and Barcelona, is one of 5 strikers named in the the team and is looking forward to another tournament for his nation. Larsson has been in fine form for Helsingborg this season, with 6 goals in 11 games so far and realises the size of the task ahead of him. “It will be tough to make the first team but I’ll do my best, We’ve been playing well in Helsingborg, playing in the UEFA Cup in the autumn and also playing good football in the Swedish league and playing football that has given me a taste for more. Larsson was suprisingly named in the Euro 2004 Swedish squad and ended up being the Swedes top scorer with 3 goals.
Meanwhile, the Dutch camp is in shock after Clarence Seedorf’s decison to quit the national team for Euro 2008. Seedorf spoke to Van Basten over the phone on Monday evening and announced his decison which stunned the Oranje’s coach. “I did not expect this at all,” he said. “I told Clarence I have a lot of respect for him as a person and as a football player, but his mind was already made up.”
Seedorf has released a statement saying “It is a decision that comes after serious consideration and months of reflection. Since my return to the national team, the right conditions have not been created to let me perform at my best and to effectively excel as the team member I always strive to be.”
Suprisingly, Seedorf has refused to quit international football and may seek a fresh start when new Dutch manager Bert van Marwijk takes over after the finals. Of course, this is nothing new to the pairs relationship as Van Basten jettisoned Seedorf from the squad prior to the last World Cup. Discussing this ommission in an interview with World Soccer in June’s edition, he was as honest as always. ” I was sad to have missed the World Cup, I don’t know why I wasn’t picked, I assume it wasn’t tactical or technical looking at the other players who were chosen. But there’s no point looking back.”
Van Basten may be looking back at his own decision to recently bring Seedorf back to the fold as another major tournament begins with issues around the Dutch squad without a ball being kicked.
Finally, Pavel Nedved, one of the Europes top players over the last decade, has turned down the managers offer of joining the squad to replace Tomas Rosicky, out with a knee injury. Nedved retired after Germany 2006 and speculation had been rife in the Italian media that he would answer Karel Brückner’s SOS to return to the Czech squad.