MANCHESTER, Dec 20 (AFP) - Henrik Larsson has admitted the prospect of joining Manchester United at a crucial stage of the season was too good a chance to turn down.
The Swede, 35, trained with his new team-mates for the first time this week after United manager Sir Alex Ferguson struck a shock, short-term deal with Helsingborgs for the striker to spend the Swedish winter break at Old Trafford.
With Larsson apparently set on winding down his career in his home country after turning his back on former club Barcelona last summer, the player's arrival in England has come as a major surprise.
But the player - who will be available from January 2nd until his return to Sweden on March 12th - insisted he couldn't resist the opportunity to join United's double assault on the Premiership and the Champions League.
"It's a great club with a big history and traditions so it feels really good to be here," Larsson said Wednesday.
"Obviously I had to have a discussion with the family as well because I moved back to Sweden in the summer so I had to have a chat with them and see how they felt about coming over and as soon as that was clear with the family then there was no problem.
"I saw it as a great challenge to come over here to play for a great club and a big club.
"When I was in Scotland with Celtic me and my family were very settled and that was part of the reason we didn't come down here at the time.
"Also we had a good team at Celtic as well. But now when I heard about this loan deal with Manchester United this was a chance I couldn't say no to.
"I'm 35 years old and I don't think I'll get another chance to join such a big club.
"But I'm not just here to enjoy myself. I obviously understand how important all of this is so there's no question it's an important time and I'm fully aware of that."
Larsson, who will wear the number 17 shirt, will make his debut in the FA Cup third round against Aston Villa on January 7 but is confident he will slot in quickly to his new surroundings.
The Swede was in the stands at Upton Park last Sunday when United lost at West Ham United, allowing Premiership title rivals Chelsea to close the gap at the head of the table to just two points, and insists he has not demanded any assurances about the role he will play during his stay.
"The manager decides where and when he is going to play me so that has never been problem," he added.
"I know what I'm here for so hopefully I can do that. I trained on Monday with the guys who didn't play on Sunday and I felt okay. I know all of them, I've played against a few of them in the past and I've watched them on television.
"I'm obviously very excited because I have been seeing the players like Wayne Rooney on television and played against them in World Cup and I am looking forward to playing with them."
Both Ferguson and Larsson made it clear there was no possibility of the deal being extended beyond mid-March and while the manager admitted he will be disappointed to see his new player return to Sweden, he is adamant the striker will have a major say in the club's bid for honours.
"It will be difficult when he leaves but I think the reality is the job will have been done in terms of keeping us at the sharp end of all the competitions," Ferguson said.
"His arrival has already lifted the dressing room. When we announced it, a few players came up to me and said 'that was a good one, where did that one come from?'."
|New deals for Moore, Schlupp|
|Litex Lovech 3 Veris 0 (3-0 agg): Bulgarians through to second round|
|Valencia loan Fede to Cordoba|
|Stoke closing in on Bojan|
|Inter still hopeful of Jovetic capture|
|Finalists dominate Golden Ball nominees|
|Celtic end Austria tour unbeaten|
|Rizzoli appointed World Cup final referee|
|Oier joins Granada|
|Escriba extends Elche agreement|
|Newcastle have agreement for Cabella, says Nicollin|
|Scolari: We have to move on|
|Roma complete Emanuelson deal|
|Alex pledges to improve Milan|
|Di Maria doing everything he can, says agent|
|Villa give Richardson a Premier League return|
|Sabella ´to step down´ after World Cup final|
|Van Gaal eyes ´unbeaten´ campaign|
|Suarez to take case to CAS|
|Germany have same spirit as in 1990, says Beckenbauer|
|´Quite clear Suarez wanted to leave´ - Liverpool fanzine|
|Southampton closing in on Pelle deal - Koeman|
|Suarez, Ronaldo, Bale and more: The Premier League talent drain|
|Augsburg capture Caiuby|
|Gerrard lauds departing Suarez|
|Andrade delighted at Benfica return|
|No Bony talks with Liverpool - Swansea|
|Lahm: Experience will be key|
|FIFA World Cup Preview: Brazil v Netherlands|
|Suarez departs Liverpool with ´heavy heart´|
|Liverpool did everything to keep Suarez - Rodgers|
|Suarez to sign for Barca|
|Boyce: Referees not told to be lenient|
|Sanchez reveals Wenger admiration|
|Flick staying secretive on Messi plans|
|Determined Dyche aims to complete more deals|
|Matri joins Genoa on loan|
|Valderrama talks up James potential|
|Aguero: Argentina are World Cup underdogs|
|Everton in talks over Traore return|
|Lambert tipped to prise open defences|
|Thauvin hails Bielsa impact at Marseille|
|Zico: Time for Scolari to go|
|Klopp eager for defensive improvement|
|Arsenal to run the rule over Fathi|
|Chamakh signs news Palace deal|
|Neville set to learn United fate|
|Fiorentina swoop for Brillante|
|Navas set to join Bayern|
|Neymar rejects agent´s anti-Scolari Twitter tirade|
|Allegri undecided on Italy job|
|Fernando idolises City team-mate Toure|
|Arteta: FA Cup will inspire Arsenal´s Premier League tilt|
|Evergrande confirm Gilardino signing|
|Howedes calls for team effort to stop Messi|
|Kuyt: Van Gaal can succeed at United|
|Argentina fined for player no-show|
|Neymar: ´I could be in a wheelchair´|
|Mascherano: I tackled doubts to block Robben|
|Zaccheroni: I leave Japan in a good spot|
|Aguero: Argentina ready to give everything|
|UEFA Europa League Review: Gothenburg leave it late, Sillamae stun Honka|
|Klose lauds Ronaldo after scooping record|
|Iran refute Susic claims|
|Fernandez named Deportivo boss|
|Argentina have no chance, says Robben|
|Hierro to replace Zidane as Real first-team coach|
|Rhodes signs new Rovers deal|
|Arsenal complete Sanchez swoop|
|Inzaghi backs under-fire Balotelli|
|Defeat has overshadowed display - Vlaar|
|Maradona: Germany full of themselves|
|Barry hoping for England recall|
|Green extends QPR stay|
|Shanghai Shenhua 1 Guangzhou Evergrande 2: Rong leaves it late in dramatic win|
|Germany hope for Brazilian support|
|Torino striker Cerci in demand|
|FIFA critcised following Mascherano incident|
|Bernat happy at Bayern despite bad memories|
|Giggs backs Van Gaal to thrive at Old Trafford|
|Tadic can fill Lallana void - Koeman|
|New five-year deal for Nasri|
|Barcelona release injury-hit Cuenca|
|Suarez appeal rejected|
|La Decima a reflection of Di Stefano - Perez|
|Buoyant Mazzarri eager for Inter success|
|Mandzukic joins Atletico|
|Van Gaal criticises third-place play-off|
|Halilhodzic yet to decide future|
|Mandzukic eager for Simeone link-up|
|Davies hoping for Hull deal|
|Poyet hopeful over Altidore fitness|
|Diego close to ´dream´ Fenerbahce move|
|Inter loan out youngsters|
|Fired-up Cole can inspire Villa, claims Lambert|
|Hughes hailed for winning over Brit doubters|
|Hajrovic signs for Bremen|
|Hull can buck Europa League trend, says Meyler|
|Mertesacker talks up German chances|
|Swansea reveal Tottenham contact over Davies, Sigurdsson|
|Lloris pens five-year deal at Tottenham|
|Fernandinho: ´The pain is big´|
|MLS Preview: Portland aim for swift revenge against Seattle|
|Sabella: Germany have an advantage|
|Second Argentine journalist dies in Brazil|
|Aguero: Argentina defied critics|
|Impressive Mascherano thrilled with final´s berth|
|Zuniga offered protection by Colombia|
|Germany vowed not to ´humiliate´ Brazil|
|Hong resigns from South Korea post|
|Third-choice Vlaar ´wasn´t nervous´|
|Van Gaal: I wanted Krul in the shootout|
|Argentina: Key factors in reaching the final|
|Sabella revels in semi-final win|
|Proud Robben feels pain of World Cup exit|
|FIFA World Cup: Netherlands 0 Argentina 0 (after extra time, 2-4 on penalties)|
|Susic signs two-year extension with Bosnia-Herzegovina|