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Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Sunday, 25 May 2008 17:04 UK

Larsson takes time for O'Donnell

Henrik Larsson joins the applause in memory of Phil O'Donnell
Larsson was among those playing in memory of Phil O'Donnell

Henrik Larsson took a break from Sweden's Euro 2008 training camp to honour the late Phil O'Donnell.

Sweden play Slovenia on Monday but Larsson was at Celtic Park for Sunday's charity match in memory of his former team-mate, who died in December.

"It was very important for me to come back," Larsson said.

"When I got the question two weeks ago from the Swedish national coach to go back I said 'Yes, I would love to, but on the 25th I need to be away'."

Larsson joined Celtic's 1998 championship-winning side to line up against a team of Motherwell legends, including most of the team that won the 1991 Scottish Cup, when O'Donnell scored his first senior goal.

The Swede was at the centre of an injury scare when he left the field after just two minutes following a clash of heads with Chris McCart.

But he returned following 10 minutes of treatment and quickly cracked in an acrobatic volley.

Motherwell skipper O'Donnell, 35, collapsed and died of heart failure during a match against Dundee United on 29 December.

And funds raised from the capacity 60,000 crowd will go to the O'Donnell Family Trust and a range of charities.

"It's a sad occasion but it's a great tribute to him and his family," said Larsson.

"You always have talkers in the dressing room and people who are a little bit more calm," Larsson said of O'Donnell.

"He was a little bit more calm but he was a great guy.

It's a sad occasion but at the same time it's a kind of celebration for everything
Henrik Larsson

"I always remember coming as a foreigner. There was always someone you could trust if you asked a question.

"I wouldn't ask Darren Jackson a question, because you wouldn't get a proper answer. Phil was not only important for me but a lot of the foreigners.

"It's a sad occasion but at the same time it's a kind of celebration for everything.

"I haven't been back since Jackie McNamara's testimonial three years ago."

Larsson, who scored 242 goals during his seven years with Celtic, added: "This is the club for me. This is where I made myself as a player, this is where everybody got to know me.

"This is the club I am going to be eternally grateful to for giving me that opportunity, when other clubs didn't believe in me.

"This is where I got back into the Swedish national team, playing in European Championships and World Cups, delivering for Sweden. I couldn't have done that without Celtic."

Like O'Donnell, Tom Boyd played for both Celtic and Motherwell and the former Scotland defender added: "Phil would have loved to have played in that atmosphere.

"Both sets of fans appreciated what he did for their clubs, everyone united to pay tribute to a great football man.

"The minute's applause was as noisy as I have heard it."

see also
Phil O'Donnell tribute photos
25 May 08 |  Celtic
Rieper hails O'Donnell's memory
23 May 08 |  Celtic
O'Donnell benefit match confirmed
15 Mar 08 |  Motherwell
Main stand tribute to O'Donnell
11 Jan 08 |  Motherwell
Larsson glad that Celtic called
20 Mar 07 |  Scotland

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