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   June 16, 2002 | 2100 IST


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Sweden's Larsson calls it a day

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Stephen Wood

Striker Henrik Larsson announced his retirement from international football after Sweden's 2-1 World Cup second round defeat to Senegal on Sunday.

"I'm finished, there will be no more," the 30-year-old, who has scored 24 goals in 72 appearances, told reporters.

"I've been thinking about it for a while, and now my family must come first."

Larsson, who will continue to play club football with Scottish champions Celtic, revealed his decision to his team mates and coaches Lars Lagerback and Tommy Soderberg amid emotional dressing room scenes after the match in Oita, won by Senegal with a 104th minute golden goal.

As he shook hands with each squad member, he explained he did not want to stay on for the European championship in 2004.

"It's too far away to the next big event," said Larsson, who has two young children.

"It's hard to leave the family at home for long periods, and the travelling is tough."

Larsson scored Sweden's 11th-minute opener against Senegal in Oita on Sunday, before the Scandinavian team were knocked out of the tournament by Henri Camara's extra-time winner.

Larsson, who won his first cap in 1993, was a member of the Sweden squad which finished third at the World Cup finals in the United States eight years ago.


He began his career in 1989 with Hogaborg before joining hometown club Helsingborg in 1992 and Dutch side Feyenoord a year later.

But it was his 1997 transfer to Celtic, for a fee of 650,000 pounds ($956,500), which helped him rise to prominence.

After recovering from a broken leg in late 1999, he returned in style to plunder 53 goals in all competitions as Celtic claimed the treble of premier league, Scottish Cup and League Cup.

His prolific scoring also propelled Celtic to another premier league title last season.

Sweden are indebted to a player whose eight goals helped them qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

Two more strikes against Nigeria in a 2-1 win helped Sweden finish top of group F in the first round of the finals.

Sweden coaches Lagerback and Soderberg appeared split on how best to deal with Larsson's surprise news.

"I don't agree with trying to persuade people to do what they don't want to do," said Lagerback.

But Soderberg held out hope. "This is how Henrik is feeling right now but he might have second thoughts."

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