21.11.2020

Meet Jordan Larsson: Who is Spartak’s striking Swedish sensation?

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Jordan Larsson carries the weight of a famous name on his back, but has been crafting his own reputation with sublime form in recent months for Spartak Moscow. In a highly-competitive forward line under Domenico Tedesco, it is Larsson who has started every game and is joint-top goalscorer for the club alongside Ezequiel Ponce. His fearless playing style has been crafted through experience in three countries and over six years of professional football.

The story so far

Jordan Larsson had plenty of changes and challenges in his life before moving to the Russian Premier Liga to play for Spartak. At one time or another he has called Rotterdam, Glasgow, Barcelona, Helsingborg, Nijmegen and now Moscow home; wherever he has been, he has been pushed to succeed on his own two feet by his parents, who would not even let him win at card games unless he earned it. A few weeks after he was born in the Netherlands he moved to Glasgow when his legendary father Henrik joined Celtic, and followed him again to Barcelona where he spent two years at the world-famous La Masia youth academy.

His paternal grandfather hails from the idyllic Cape Verdean island of Sal in the Atlantic Ocean where, aside from the universal popularity of football, basketball is a popular pursuit. The sport indirectly gave rise to Henrik naming his son after the legendary Michael Jordan, a figure whom Larsson Jr admires to this day. Jordan would watch his father on the terraces of Parkhead where Henrik would become an idol, and arguably the most celebrated foreign player to represent the 1967 European champions.

He followed his father’s career in more ways than one. After Henrik reached the pinnacle of his career, he returned to Helsinborgs to spend two seasons at his hometown club in 2007 when Jordan was still only 10. At school his PE teachers recall him being a fiercely determined youngster with a driven personality; shaking off the pressure of being the son of his country’s highest goalscorer (Zlatan Ibrahimovic has since surpassed Henrik’s international tally) meant he had to work even harder to prove himself.

By this stage his son had already joined the Hogaborgs youth academy at which Henrik had himself started his playing career almost two decades earlier. Like his father, a 17-year-old Jordan moved on to Helsinborgs in his first senior career move, and he would go on to score 18 goals in 75 games for the club - both career high numbers to date, although he is already fast catching up on the goals tally with Spartak. 

One of the most dramatic strikes was his last for the club both he and his father played for. With Helsinborgs battling relegation, they faced Olympia on the last day of the season needing to win to stay up. With his father Henrik watching on as manager, Jordan scored what could have been the goal to clinch survival with only eight minutes left, but his side conceded twice in the closing stages and were relegated for the first time in 23 years.

Unsavoury scenes unfolded as fans stormed the pitch, some even confronting Larsson himself, but he was soon off to the land of his birth for a less productive spell at NEC Nijmegen. He returned to Swedish football in 2018 and promptly became the Allsvensakn’s top goalscorer, prompting Spartak Moscow to make their move for him last summer. Sixteen goals in 44 matches - including three across two RPL games against Lokomotiv and one in the pulsating extra-time Russian Cup clash against CSKA last season - has seen him well on the way to grabbing the attention of Europa. 

Similar playing style

Harry Kewell. The Australian winger arrived in English football in the 1990s as a wispy winger of little physical stature but a barrel-load of confidence, and had an impish determination to be on the ball at all times. Jordan Larsson’s game may be more naturally suited to a central position, but when he controls the ball with half an inch of space and bursts into it, his close control is reminiscent of the former Leeds United man.

Did you know?

Jordan Larsson is one of a select few players to have appeared in a full professional match alongside his father. As a 15-year-old prospect, he played for fourth-tier side Hogaborgs alongside his 41-year-old father, who came out of retirement to ease an injury crisis at the club, and celebrated Jordan’s goal on the pitch with him. Rostov midfielder Roman Eremenko played alongside his father, who also played alongside his other son Alexey, while Brazilian legend Rivaldo was a Mogi Mirim teammate of son Rivaldinho a few years ago. 

What they say

“There is one guy who is on the rise - we’re waiting for him with the national team.” - Sweden’s all-time top goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“With time I learned to take comparisons with my father as additional motivation. As an incentive to prove that I’m a good player first and foremost, not just Henrik Larsson’s son.” - Jordan Larsson on comparisons with his father 

“If you want to be a football player, you have to constantly push yourself and go further. Jordan has it. In terms of internal drive, he went even further than I did. Jordan is quite young, but he has achieved much more than I did at his age.” - Jordan’s father Henrik on his son’s development.


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