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Football: WONDER'S IN THE LARS CHANCE SALOON.

HENRIK LARSSON has won everything this season - but has nothing to show for it.

The super Swede will tomorrow pick up the Scottish Football Writers' 'Player of the Year' award, after lifting the similar title bestowed upon him by his fellow professionals.

Add to that collection the BBC Scotland 'Sports Personality of the Year' prize, and one dished out in Sweden, and you can see why hooray Henrik has had plenty to be happy about.

But Larsson would happily trade those individual trinkets for something that he and his fellow Bhoys can share.

Celtic, having twice picked up silverware last season, have drawn a blank this time around.

They still have one last chance to end this barren season, against Rangers in this afternoon's Tennent's Scottish Cup Final.

If they don't the Celtic players will face a summer of being reminded about their deadly rivals treble winning campaign.

A determined Larsson said: "I could not have won anything without my team-mates. I have to thank the team for their support. They are the ones who make the passes for me. If I win prizes, then they are also for them.

"But if you play for Celtic, then you need to be winning prizes. The fans expect that.

"At least we have one more chance to win something, and I hope the result will go our way in the final."

Much is expected of Larsson, scorer of 38 goals in total this season, who over the latter stages of the league campaign has never quite reached the heights he achieved earlier in the season.

Some have said that he was playing for a new deal, while others have hoped the former Feyenoord player has been holding back in order guarantee something is salvaged from the last ten months.

An advocate of collective responsibility, Larsson suggests that everyone will have their role to play today.

He said: "If you win, then some players will play better than others. That is always the way.

"But we are a team. We play together, so we win with each other, and we will lose with each other. That's the way in this team."

Celtic have been unbeaten since they lost to Rangers at the start of the month, a result which ended their tenure as title holders.

The disappointment from that day however, has acted as a spur to Larsson and company.

He continued: "We all know we lost the league, but the league was lost long before we played the last game against Rangers.

"But the players were very disappointed after that last game."

Larsson was one who stayed well clear of the mayhem the last time the two great rivals met head on.

The eyes of the football world - as well as the police and government - will be well and truly focused on the new Hampden this afternoon.

But Larsson, who halted one irate fan who was headed straight for referee Hugh Dallas, hopes they will have to watch good football rather than bad behaviour.

He said: "It will be better than what happened the last time. I don't think we will see those type of incidents in the final. They were not good for Scottish football."

The 27-year-old, who recently pledged himself to a new four-year contract, has been caught up in his own controversy during the course of the league programme.

First he was alleged to have clattered Killie defender Gus MacPherson with a late challenge, and then he incurred the wrath of Michael Doesburg and his Motherwell team-mates with another dubious challenge. But Larsson dismissed claims that he was the guilty party in either case, and isn't about to change the way he plays the game.

He said: "There will always be tackles, and I will always make tackles.

"It's up to the referee to decide if they are fouls or if they are worth a yellow card, or a red card."

Hardman or not, he's the one player Hoops fans hope will get tough in front of goal tomorrow to lift their season from the litter bin.

And confident as ever, the goal-machine rapped: "It's always good for players to be scoring goals - but it's sometimes very difficult.

"At the same time, I've had a very good season doing that - and the season is
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Weir, Stewart
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 29, 1999
Words:715
Previous Article:Football: SCOTTISH CUP FINAL '99 CELTIC v RANGERS; Key battle: Johan Mjallby v Rod Wallace.
Next Article:Football: I'll be what the doctor ordered.. if Jo plays me in final; SAYS MARK BURCHILL.


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