Fans know him affectionately as the ‘King of Kings’. He was goalscoring royalty, after all.

Henrik Larsson bagged 242 goals in 315 games over a ‘Magnificent 7’ year spell for Celtic.

The Swede won four Scottish titles, two Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups during his stint at Celtic Park.

He was also a runner-up in the 2003 UEFA Cup where Martin O’Neill’s side agonisingly lost 3-2 to Jose Mourinho’s Porto in Seville.

During his seven-year stint in Scotland, Larsson was the scourge of many a defender but what it was like to actually play against a player of such immense quality?

On the Swedish phenomenon's 50th Birthday, The Celtic Way tracked down seven defenders from that era and asked what made him tick, what was he really like on the park and exactly how good was this footballing icon?

Here, they have their say on a facing a giant of the game.

Allan Preston (St Johnstone)

His touch, his movement, and his aerial ability for someone that wasn’t so tall was a joy to behold.

He was sensational in the air. He had a great leap and he just used to pull-off defenders in order to score goals with ease.

He was great from a standing jump too and he was deadly and explosive with that technique.

I was always taught to defend through the man – ‘see the ball, see the man’ - that kind of thing.

As soon as the ball moved you had to check where it was and when you went back to your position Henrik wasn’t there.

He would either be behind you or in front of you.

What he was really amazing at was getting in between two defenders and causing real confusion.

If there were two centre-halves he played in between the lines of the two of them. He genuinely was impossible to man-mark.

His finishing ability was also off the charts.

He did the defending and dirty side of the game as well as the attacking with great aplomb.

Larsson rarely spoke on the park. He didn’t need to. He just let his goalscoring exploits and talent do all of his talking for him.

His actions on the park spoke louder than any words could off it.

Stephen Craigan (Motherwell)

Larsson had an air of confidence about him. He just had an aura about him like most good players do.

You get many strikers who speak to you and try to wind you up and involve you in gamesmanship during matches.

Some would kick you and some would argue with you. Henrik wasn’t like that at all. He never said a word.

I was more intimidated by Larsson than any other striker in Scottish football. You had no idea what Henrik was going to do as he never told you anything. Psychologically you knew you were in a battle.

Whenever you faced him, you were just confronted with this stony silence.

The timing of his movement was excellent and he used to allow defenders to look towards the ball.

The minute you looked to see where the cross was coming in from, Larsson would disappear. Honestly you would swear sometimes that he had vanished into thin air. He was invisible at times.

He always played on your blind-side and the second you took your eyes off him that is when he made his moves. More often than not it resulted in a goal as he wandered freely into five yards of space.

He was an excellent footballer and whenever the ball came inside the 18-yard box, Larsson just came alive.

He plundered so many goals because he played on his instincts and always anticipated where the ball would go next – you cannot teach or coach that.

Henrik just always switched on when the ball was in the penalty area and if you switched off you paid a heavy price for it.

Steven Pressley (Hearts)

Larsson scored lots of goals because he had a wonderful understanding of the game.

Defenders just couldn’t get to grips or a handle on his movement or his thinking. Intelligent strikers like that are hard to come by these days.

I have to say I had a few moments with Henrik Larsson on the park in terms of verbal spats with him. I look back at some of my behaviour on the park and I am not exactly proud of it. It was behaviour I used to try to influence games and people.

I did not show Henrik respect when I played against him which he probably didn’t like. We had a few issues with each other at times.

My on-field behaviour is not something I am proud of however it was what was needed at the time.

Henrik Larsson was a player that I had the utmost respect for.

I admit that I tried to intimidate him and affect his game with my behaviour.

Henrik was tough though and he was not intimidated by anybody dishing out physical contact as he could handle himself.

When I came up against Larsson, I just brought everything I had in my armoury to the table for 90 minutes in order to try and get a result for my team.

Although you respect your opponent, you can never let them get the feeling you overly respect or fear them.

He always played on your ‘blind spot’ which was the bane of many a defender at his hands.

If you didn’t go back towards the ‘blind spot’ he remained in there, if you did go back then he would move towards it and shoot across you. More often than not it was that movement that led to a goal.

That was typical Henrik Larsson.

READ MORE: Celtic are too soft and good football won't save Ange Postecoglou if the league table continues to jar - Alison McConnell

Jim Lauchlan (Kilmarnock & Dundee United)

I always tried to be friendly with referees and it was all part of my strategy so an official would let me away with my first cruncher on a centre-forward.

You always tried to put an early calling card to let him know you were there.

If you left one on Larsson, he just dusted himself down and got on with it although he would give you that stare, as if to say, 'I know what you did there'.

He was an all-round team player. His work rate was phenomenal.

Whenever I took the ball from the goalkeeper, Henrik pressed me high up the park.

He would not let you play or build from the back.

Larsson was the best I ever played against.

He scored an unbelievable header against Dundee United in the Scottish Cup semi-final in 2001.

From the corner of the six-yard box he somehow dived towards the ball and bulleted it in.

It was a 100 miles per hour header from an acute angle that looked impossible and went in at the near post.

The goal defied both logic and gravity.

I didn’t know how Larsson had got in front of me let alone dive to smash the header into the net.

I came in at full-time and Alex Smith put his arm around my shoulder and said to me: "sometimes you just have to bow and doff your cap to a football genius".

Dave Mackay (Dundee)

He wasn’t the kind of player who would be involved in the play constantly.

Henrik never picked the ball up and beat three players and stuck it away.

Although you just knew that any sniff he had in and around the box he would score.

Any slip-up would be punished when he was around.

Whether that was with his left foot, right foot or head, it didn’t matter.

This guy was also unbelievable in the air. That sometimes gets overlooked.

He wasn’t massive but his timing in a jump was incredible.

He would leap and hang for ages like he was in suspended animation before burying headers.

Larsson didn't appear to have any weaknesses in his game and his goalscoring record speaks for itself. He was just a proper team player and a very down to earth guy who performed his role excellently.

Physically he could handle himself and hold his own against anybody.

He was aware of what was going on around him at all times.

For 90 minutes your own concentration had to be at the absolute peak which was difficult to do with guys like Larsson around. He preyed on mistakes or moments of weakness.

Players of his calibre were always two steps ahead of Scottish teams defences.

His presence and aura just put real fear into defenders.

Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit Henrik Larsson was too good for everybody in Scotland and defenders felt pretty powerless against him most of the time.

Lee Bullen (Dunfermline)

I had the most pleasure and pain in my career playing against Henrik Larsson.

When anybody asks me who was my hardest opponent? The answer is always Larsson.

He just had a hell of a habit of finding the back of the net.

I remember one game we played at East End Park on the horrendous plastic surface and Nipper Thomson, Scott Wilson and myself thought we had Henrik in our back pocket.

Henrik had done nothing all game and hadn’t had a great influence and then all of a sudden – Bang! Bang!

Larsson had scored two goals and it was game over. He did that on a regular basis.

He didn’t boss games left, right and centre but there were times where he would produce two or three minutes of brilliance and that was it.

My last game for Dunfermline – the 2004 Scottish Cup final – was classic Henrik Larsson.

We were 1-0 up and looking good to go on and win the trophy. Henrik hadn't been in the game at all and we'd done really well.

Then Larsson popped up out of nowhere and side-footed one in from a hell of an angle to make it 1-1.

It was the type of goal he made a career out of.

READ MORE: Livingston defeat exposes Celtic’s away-day demons and raises tactical questions

He was never flustered or pressured in front of goal and there was a composure and coolness about the way Larsson would score goals.

He was just a clinical technician as well as one of the bravest footballers I have ever come across. He put his head in where it hurt all the time.

His timing and his movement were absolutely brilliant.

What he also did superbly well was the fact that he stood in offside positions all the time and you were constantly having to check over your shoulder.

He always asked questions of defenders in every game.

He played on the cusp of offside but at the right time he would step onside and make his runs and exploit the gaps that were there.

There was a real intelligence and subtlety about his play.

Ramon Vega (Celtic)

Henrik was just so difficult to mark at training and I remember the first week I joined Celtic when he was my direct opponent.

I was determined to defend as that was my job so I whacked him a couple of times and went flying into tackles to put him up the air. There was screaming as you can imagine and I got told off as this was the star man, the golden boy, our main striker.

I got the vibe that I needed to be very careful with Henrik so I laid off him a bit.

Larsson though didn’t want me to ease off.

Even in training, he wanted to replicate game situations and he told me to keep doing what I was doing as it was good for him and kept him sharp and focused at all times.

He was the complete professional footballer and he always had to win.

We would have the 5-a-side matches and he wanted to be on the winning team at all times. All the players wanted to be on Henrik’s team as you knew you would win the 5-a-side competition.

He never shouted at all and when strikers are loud that helps you as a defender as you can anticipate what they are going to do from their shouts.

Henrik was the complete opposite of that. He was a quiet assassin.

They are the worst strikers to play against – they don’t say, they just do. You had to be aware and concentrating at all times. You had to touch him to make sure he was there as he would disappear on you and that was it. You were bang in trouble when that happened.

He was so intelligent in taking up positions between the two centre-halves and he knew how to run between them.

That’s what Henrik was so talented at, bending his runs and spinning off defenders. He had the timing and the execution of spinning off and moving in between defenders to score a goal down to a fine art.

He was absolutely brilliantly at that and making space despite the fact the penalty box always seemed to be crowded.

Henrik actually helped improve my own game no end.

You cannot go higher than that and it showed when I played international football for Switzerland.

I felt I was more adept at marking strikers of international repute and quality all because of my jousts in training with Larsson.

He must have given every defender in Scotland sleepless nights at the thought of playing against him as he was just a total nightmare as an opponent.

He preyed on every defensive weakness you exhibited.

If you switched off…Henrik switched on.

That was the secret of his success.