FORMER Celtic striker Chris Sutton was lucky enough to play alongside some talented forwards in his time - but the Englishman has no doubts over who was the best.

Sutton formed a fruitful partnership with Alan Shearer at Blackburn Rovers as the Lancashire club won the maiden Premier League campaign back in 1992 and counted the likes of Gianfranco Zola and George Weah as team-mates at Chelsea.

But the 48-year-old is adamant that Hoops legend Henrik Larsson was the best he ever lined up alongside.

Sutton and the Swedish great spent four years together at Parkhead, and despite Larsson's incredible goal tally - he scored 242 goals in 315 appearances - the former insisted the latter's all-round play made him the perfect strike partner, adding that an early conversation helped to strike up a good relationship on the park.

"I was aware of him, but the Swedes are a funny lot, they’re kind of moody," Sutton told Open Goal.

"But we were on the coach to Denmark for a game and I said to him ‘I’m here to help you, if I see you in a better position I will pass it to you’ and from that day on he was as good as gold.

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"He was a phenomenal player but the best thing about him was, well I always thought, was that he was so unselfish. 

"He was a brilliant finisher but also a great team player.

"He could’ve played in a number of positions and play them well. 

"He had a great football brain. "“He was very individual in terms of his goal scoring numbers and he was the best. In terms of any strike partnership that I’ve had, he was the best.

"That’s not a dig at Alan Shearer but when I was at Blackburn with Shearer, that was when I was 20, by the time I was at Celtic I knew my game better."

Sutton added that Larsson's sublime chip in the famous 6-2 victory over Rangers in 2000 was an apt demonstration of his superb technical ability.

"It was 3-1 or 3-2 but Larsson scores his goal where he jinks past four of them and that’s where he was just a cut above," Sutton recalled.

"You know how difficult it is with the ball running away from you and it’s a big game, an enormous moment, and then you scoop it over the keeper?

"That’s a ridiculous skill. You think you’d need to be an idiot or a genius to do that. There’s nothing in between. And you know, he could do that a lot.

"To have the audacity to do that was incredible."

Larsson departed Celtic Park in 2004 after allowing his contract to run down and sealed a move to Barcelona, where he is held in high regard. Today, the Swede serves as Ronald Koeman's assistant at the Camp Nou and his memorable cameo in the 2006 Champions League final - Larsson came off the bench with Barca trailing Arsenal and provided both assists in the 2-1 victory - means his place in the Catalan club's history books is assured.

A short-term loan at Manchester United followed a few years later as Larsson played a key role in getting the team's title bid over the line in the twilight of his career - and although Sutton admits that the dressing room at Parkhead felt a little strange following the striker's departure, he insists he and his team-mates felt nothing but pride after watching Larsson excel elsewhere.

"He done seven years in the end, but you’re losing your biggest hitter, the guy who bails you out every week," Sutton explained.

"We knew it was never going to be the same again and there was a sort of hollow feeling.

"But nobody could begrudge him that move. I always liked the fact that he shoved two fingers up to everybody who bad mouthed the Scottish league. He scored goals at international level and at Champions League level and didn’t really get the recognition for it.

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"There was still a feeling of ‘Oh, it’s Scottish football.’

"And then he went to Barcelona and won them the Champions League with his display in the final, and went to Manchester United when he was ‘done’ and the United fans loved him.

"He was brilliant for them and that was at the end of his career. Imagine if he had gone in his prime? How could you replace him?"