Henrik Larsson named Sweden captain

September 2, 2008

STOCKHOLM, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Helsingborg striker Henrik Larsson, who will be 37 this month and has twice retired from international soccer, was appointed Sweden's new captain on Tuesday.

'Henrik has all the qualities that are needed in a captain,' coach Lars Lagerback told reporters. 'Henrik will be the steady captain and he is a fine representative.'

Larsson, who last came out of international retirement to play at this year's European championships, won the 2006 Champions League with Barcelona and has also played for Manchester United and Celtic.

However Lagerbeck's decision took even him by surprise: 'I thought they would pick someone who will be with them for a long time ahead,' Larsson told Swedish public television SVT.

The evergreen striker succeeds 31-year-old former Arsenal midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg, who announced his retirement from international football shortly after Sweden's exit from the group stage at Euro 2008.

Larsson's first match as permanent captain will be Sweden's opening World Cup Group One qualifier against Albania in Tirana on Saturday, which will also be the striker's 100th international appearance.

Sweden then play Hungary in Stockholm next week.

Larsson has scored 37 goals for his country and has played six international championships for Sweden, the first in 1994 when Sweden finished third at the World Cup in the United States.

He acted as temporary captain against France in a friendly loss last month.

'I have said that as long as the coach (Lagerback) wants me here, I'll be here,' said Larsson, who was linked with several foreign clubs during the transfer season.

'The season (in the Swedish league) is until November, after that I don't have a contract (with Helsingborg). Then we'll see what happens.'