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The one player Sir Alex Ferguson "would have done anything to keep" at Man Utd

Daniel Marland

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The one player Sir Alex Ferguson "would have done anything to keep" at Man Utd

Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed Henrik Larsson's time at Manchester United so much, he would have "done anything to keep him".

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United signed the Swedish legend on loan in January 2007 after Louis Saha picked up an injury. Larsson was 35-years-old at the time and only stayed at Old Trafford for two months.

He returned to Helsingborg in March having found the back of the net three times in 13 games and Ferguson waxed lyrical about Larsson immediately after his final game in a Red Devils shirt.

"He's been fantastic for us, his professionalism, his attitude, everything he's done has been excellent," Ferguson explained following a 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

"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."

The Middlesbrough game also showed the Champions League winner wasn't afraid to 'run his b**ls off' when he had to, despite being in the twilight of his career.

"In his last game in our colours at Middlesbrough, we were winning 2-1 and Henrik went back to play in midfield and ran his balls off," Ferguson wrote in his second autobiography.

"On his return to the dressing room, all the players stood up and applauded him, and the staff joined in. It takes some player to make that kind of impact in two months.

"Cult status can vanish in two minutes if a player isn't doing his job. Yet Henrik retained that aura in his time with us. He looked a natural Man United player, with his movement and courage."

The former Celtic man's experience rubbed off on some of United's young attackers, most notably Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ferguson continued: "On arrival at United, he seemed a bit of a cult figure with our players. They would say his name in awed tones.

"For a man of 35 years of age, his receptiveness to information on the coaching side was amazing. At every session he was rapt. He wanted to listen to Carlos (Queiroz), the tactics lectures; he was into every nuance of what we did."

Larsson himself would later admit he regretted not sticking around in the Premier League that little bit longer.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

"The only regret I have in my playing career was that I didn't stay on for the rest of the season because I think if I did that I would have been offered a little bit more, maybe an extension on that," the forward said per Manchester Evening News.

"The problem with that was that I promised Helsingborg to come home and I wanted the kids to have somewhere they could call home."

Such a short stint leaving such an impact proves Larsson is one of the finest of his generation. It's a shame he never did receive a Premier League medal for his exploits.

SPORTbible Stories is the brand-new podcast from the SPORT team at LADbible. The first episode features a chat with former Burnley manager Sean Dyche as he opens up on his departure from Turf Moor, what the future holds and the amazing story of the spin wheel for fines while in charge of the Clarets. You can watch the first episode here.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson

Daniel Marland
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