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The name's Larsson...a famous son is paraded at Helsingborgs

THE introduction was kept brief.

Henrik Larsson with son Jordan
Henrik Larsson with son Jordan

Jordan Larsson was paraded in front of the home support for the first time yesterday but only as part of a pre-match warm-up, the teenager seemingly reluctant to stand out in the crowd of first-team players until he was obliged to raise a hand in silent recognition when his name was read out over the PA system.

Here was Larsson, number 18 for Helsingborgs. It was the first time that the young midfielder had been presented to the Olympic Stadium but it seemed like an echo of the past. At 17, Larsson has followed in the footsteps of his father, Henrik, by signing from local fourth division side Hoegaborgs and featured in the senior squad yesterday as Helsingborgs faced Oerebro. The match finished 1-1.

It is only a figure. And so was Larsson - he sat contentedly on the bench until he replaced Mattias Lindstroem to make his debut after 73 minutes - but the narrative of his evening would extend beyond the dug-out. Larsson's face was known around the club already, and not simply as a result of his resemblance to dear old dad.

The young Swede had looked every inch a prodigious footballer before agreeing terms with a club that his father first joined as a youngster in 1992, although Larsson Jr has not been allowed to feel as though he is arriving at training from on high. "I travel by bus. Mum and dad won't give me a lift," said Larsson. "Christoffer Andersson [the Helsingborgs midfielder] lives nearby, so occasionally he will pick me up. But most of the time, it's the bus."

Junior has been able to avoid much of the traffic in youth football, though. Larsson has followed his father around the world, the reputation of the former Sweden internationalist once earning his progeny entry to the youth academy at Barcelona while Larsson Sr moved to Camp Nou in 2004. "It was very good and professional, even at that age," said the 17-year-old, who was reportedly a target for Manchester United last season, a club where his father also spent a brief spell on loan in 2007.

The longest the family spent living abroad was while Larsson was a player at Celtic; the erstwhile striker making his name in Glasgow, as well as his home. His son can recall his time in Scotland fondly too, even though his football career was far from memorable. "In Scotland, I didn't really play for a proper club, it was more like a youth recreation centre where we had fun," he said.

Such a memory is recounted more calmly than that of compatriot Simon Thern, who was once left in the care of Paul Gascoigne while his father, Jonas, played for Rangers. The five-year-old Thern was exposed to the trauma of a troubled Gazza putting a syringe to his own arm and screaming. "I only met Gazza when dad played at Euro 2004, but I don't remember it," added Larsson.

He has been exposed more to football throughout Europe, although he professes to have learned most at the feet of his father. It has proven a strict upbringing - Larsson has been told by his parents that he must finish his schooling, despite joining Helsingborgs - with the young midfielder having been instructed from an early age that the family name is not to be considered a means to success.

"Dad has absolutely not shown any mercy," he said. "But that's all good, that's the way you progress."

Larsson stepped forward as a Helsingborgs player for the first time yesterday, even if the introduction was only brief.

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