Success for Henrik Larsson in floorball debut

Success for Henrik Larsson in floorball debut
Henrik Larsson showed that his athleticism is not limited to the football pitch when the star footballer came off the bench to help his team to victory on Sunday during his first match in Sweden’s top floorball league.

Larsson’s Helsingborg FC came from behind to notch a 7-6 overtime victory over visiting Jönköpings IK, thanks in part to the fleet-footed footballer’s contribution in the second half.

“This was a lot of fun. Really great. Awesome,” said a beaming Larsson to the Aftonbladet newspaper following the match.

Although Larsson didn’t contribute directly to the victory with a goal, his coach still gave him a lot of credit for helping FC Helsingborg turn the match around.

“He’s much better than all the experts around the country who haven’t seen him play actually think,” said coach Mikael Karlberg.

“He contributed a lot to our victory. We are stiff, anxious, and have no speed at all. We throw Henke in the match and he gets the team moving with his style of play. He has a lot of potential even if he is 37-years-old.”

Rumours of Larsson’s decision to take up floorball (Swedish: innebandy) surfaced in early November when the Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper confirmed the town’s hometown hero was considering a return to a sport he had enjoyed before his international football career.

By mid-November, Larsson and FC Helsingborg had come to terms, allowing him to start practicing with the club, which hoped the star’s addition would provide a lift for their so far disappointing season.

Larsson remains under contract with the town’s football club, Helsingborgs IF, through January 2009, after which things remain up in the air.

Larsson hoped to continue as a two sport athlete, but admitted that it might be difficult.

“I know that I would very much like to play floorball but I also know that it would be really tough to combine a floorball season with the preseason for football. From a purely physical perspective, it wouldn’t work,” he said.

Larsson international football career took off when he left Helsingborg back in 1993 for Feyenoord in the Netherlands before rising to prominence with Celtic in Scotland, where he helped the club to four titles in seven years.

In 2004, Larsson moved to the storied Barcelona franchise in Spain, after which he came to Sweden in 2006 to once again join Helsingborg in Sweden’s top league.

Playing for Sweden’s national side, Larsson has registered 37 goals in 102 caps since joining in 1993, having been lured back out of retirement twice since he first said he was through with the team in 2002.

Larsson said the Helsingborg football club understood his desire to test himself in new ways and that he hopes to continue discussions in January.

For the moment though, his focus is on floorball.

“I hate to lose and love to win. I’m happy every time the ball goes into the opponents goal,” he said.

“There’s really no difference between floorball and football.”