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820 miles separate Scotland and Sweden’s main airports, but the connection between the two countries is certainly closer with regard to football players, especially at Celtic.

You do not have to go too far back in history to realise the impact that the Scandinavian nation has made on Scottish football as a whole, but most notably at Celtic over the past 30 years or so.

With the club’s most recent Swedish representative Carl Starfelt leaving the club in order to join Celta Vigo in Spain’s La Liga, Celtic do not have any current players hailing from Sweden (Sead Haksabanovic was born there but represents Montenegro). That could be set to change, however, with the transfer of Elfsborg’s Gustaf Lagerbielke seemingly edging closer.

Of course, the first player that springs to mind when you mention the club and country in the same breath is Henrik Larsson, Celtic’s greatest modern-day striker. 242 goals in 313 games in all competitions speaks for itself in terms of the attacking prowess that the forward had in his arsenal (the London club know all about him, too, judging by his performance against them in the 2006 Champions League final).

Larsson’s shadow and legacy still loom large to this day over Celtic Park, but there have been other Swedish players who have made big impacts on the Glasgow club. Arriving just a year after his fellow countryman, Johan Mjallby joined up with him as the pair were both mainstays in the side, though at different ends of the pitch. Mjallby was a no-nonsense defender who was also a threat at set pieces. 14 goals in 171 total appearances indicated a solid return for the central defender, who would return to the club as assistant manager in 2010 to work alongside another former team-mate in Neil Lennon, first on a temporary basis before the permanent move transpired that summer. A winner both as a player and a coach, Mjallby’s favourable position in Celtic’s modern history is effectively sealed.

Admittedly, there have been some Swedish players who played for Celtic in their careers, but their stint in Glasgow is evidently not the period that defined them in truth. This judgement can be attributed to the likes of goalkeeper Magnus Hedman and winger Freddie Ljungberg, who both made very little impact during their time in the club. For both, their respective times at Coventry City and Arsenal are where they will be fondly remembered as footballers. Still, they pulled on the green and white hoops, so they should be acknowledged as such.

READ MORE: The Celtic star whose departure marked my soul forever - Tony Haggerty

At Celtic at the same time as Ljungberg was defender Daniel Majstorovic, who did make more of an impact on first-team proceedings. He packed a firm challenge and posed a massive presence on the pitch in terms of his build but was not the most mobile at getting around it. He would win two trophies during his stay in Scotland, in what was a successful period during his later years as a professional. However, Majstorovic’s impact is dwarfed by that of another international team-mate of his, who is the most successful Swedish player in Celtic’s history with regard to his trophy haul.

Signing a pre-contract with the club in November 2011, Rosenborg right-back Mikael Lustig arrived with a wealth of experience both domestically and on the international stage.

By the time the defender had left the club in 2019 he had won 16 trophies in his seven years at the club, including eight league titles in a row at the time of his departure. A fan favourite for his performances on the park, and his antics off of it, Lustig cemented himself as one of Celtic’s greatest modern-day signings, with the full-back front and centre of arguably the club's most dominant spell in history.

During this time, Lustig was joined by John Guidetti at the club, arriving on loan from Manchester City. Also involved with the Swedish national setup, the outspoken striker had an electrifying start to life at Celtic, before his form dipped, perhaps coinciding with talks about his future at the club. He would return to the Premier League side the following summer, having scored 15 goals in 35 total appearances for Celtic under fellow Scandinavian Ronny Deila.

This leads us nicely to the recently departed Starfelt. Perhaps the most polarising defender in recent Celtic history, he joined the club from Rubin Kazan in 2021, making his debut against Hearts following a period of self-isolation given the regulations that existed at the time. He would be shaky in this one, cutting a nervous figure in the defence as Celtic and Ange Postecoglou would be defeated 2-1 at Tynecastle on the opening day of the season.

Despite this rocky start, Starfelt would improve and become part of a partnership alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers that would never lost a league game together. Five trophies in two seasons indicate how successful the defender’s relatively short stint at the club was, despite the occasional concentration lapse in his performances. He leaves the club as a treble-winner, joining Larsson, Mjallby and Lustig as Swedish Celtic players who can boast this achievement.

READ MORE: Gustaf Lagerbielke: Why the Swede is perfect as a ball-playing defender

Will Lagerbielke be the next Swedish representative of Celtic? Reports in his homeland seem to think so. With Starfelt’s departure now official, the capped defender is poised to make the move to Glasgow, where he will follow in the footsteps of some very successful countrymen who have excelled at the club.