My Team & I: Celtic


By Andrew Gibney

Twitter: @gibfootballshow

Why Celtic?

As most Scottish people will tell you “It’s in the family.” My Dad supports Celtic so does all that side of the family, I remember being told my Uncle Paul once held the Scottish Cup when he met the players inside a pub on Shettleston Road in Glasgow, there was no doubting what side I would be picking on the green/blue divide.

My Gran & Grandpa lived in Shettleston most of their life so I have fond memories before Celtic Park became the 60,000 all seater stadium it is today, my Dad would take me to a game, standing in what is known as “The Rangers End” mostly because it was quieter, watching a game, then walking back to my Gran’s house for Scotch Pie and Beans, always the best Saturdays.

When I grew up I continued going to games, this time with friends, trying to go to as many as money would allow. Then in 1997 I managed to acquire a season ticket from a friend, that was me for seven years, co-insiding with Henrik Larsson’s time at Celtic Park, It was a good time to watch my team.

In 2004 I moved down to Leeds for University, my Uncle took on the ticket to keep it “in the family” for my sins I have only been back three times to see games, but most weekends you will find me in front of a TV screen watching the Bhoys

Favourite Player?

God there is so many to choose from: Henrik Larsson, Paolo Di Canio, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Lubo Moravcik and Andy Thom I could go on forever, but I won’t. My favourite player for so many reasons was Shunsuke Nakamura, joining the club after the 5-0 defeat to Artmedia Bratislava I wondered why someone with so much guile and grace would want to place for our rubbish. I’m so glad he did, from the first game he played I knew he was special, so calm on the ball, never wasted a pass, he just added so much style to the team.

Often “Naka” was slated for his inability to handle the physical side if the Scottish game, however if you watch him play near the end of his four year stay at Celtic you could see he had adjusted and his upper-body strength had got increasingly better, able to shield the ball with ease it made up for his lack of pace. A joy to watch in a Celtic shirt, a player I was sad to never see in the flesh, but I loved every second he was on the pitch.


Favourite Game?

Nothing is more exciting than going to our ground and hearing the Champions League theme, it is a magical experience on a cold Wednesday night, standing in the stands looking at the Champions League logo wave in the centre circle, you can just feel that something exciting is about to happen.

October the 31st 2001 Juventus were in town, Pavel Nedved, David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero rolled into Celtic Park, Celtic needed a win and a Rosenborg win against Porto to advance to the last 16. An amazing game followed Del Piero curled in a free kick to put his team up, this woke Celtic up and goals from Joos Valgaeren and Chris Sutton made it 2-1. Trezeguet brought it back all square with a nice low finish. Sutton then won a penalty that Larsson dispatched.

Then the greatest moment of them all, a corner was swung in and half cleared by Juventus only to fall into the path of Sutton and he met it expertly and lashed the volley into the back of the net. I’m sure in that moment Celtic Park moved. Juve would score late to make it 4-3 and Porto would get the point they needed, but nothing could damped out spirit that night, proud of our team taking on the Italian giants and winning, will never forget that.


Favourite Strip?

It’s too easy to pick one of the many “hoops” jerseys I won’t though. This was one of my favourite strips, the player on the back may not be familiar to you but Regi Blinker played for Celtic at the same time that Larsson joined.

He didn’t have the most successful time, and in no way a fan favourite. I had asked my Dad to get me the new Celtic strip for my birthday, and could he get BLINKER #20 on the back of it. I was over the moon when presented with the shirt and then can remember laughing when told the girl at the Celtic Superstore had told my Dad “This is the first Blinker shirt we’ve done!” Proud and delighted I went off to the next game, shirt in a bag and permanent marker in tow.

Standing at the front of the barrier I began shouting Regi’s name over and over. He looked over saw the top with his name and gave a thumbs up. Continuing to shout his name he eventually came over. “I thought you were just showing me it.” He said, “No I wanted you to sign it.” He did, unfortunately this was before the day of sharpies so the autograph has faded, I can still see the green pen and the memories will always live on.

Worst Thing About Being a Celtic Fan?

Probably the worst thing about being a Celtic fan is the stigma that comes with it, too many people as soon as you mention what team you support think you’re a bigot of some kind, and you must no nothing of football outside of Celtic/Rangers, I’m not saying every Celtic fan is a member of Mensa but there are some of us that are quite intelligent and know about the game outside of the G postcode.

Funniest Moment?

I suppose it’s only fair to mention one of my funniest moments at Celtic Park. Barcelona were in town for Bobby Robson’s testimonial, I had managed to get Luis Enrique’s autograph and some director called “Paco” the game was meaningless but enjoyable all the same.

In the second half Celtic forward Jorge Cadete was substituted and ran over towards Bobby Robson in the away team dugout, he removed his shirt and handed it to Robson, sitting 14 rows from the front, here was my chance “THAT’LL BE 45 QUID BOBBY!!” Everyone around me laughed and Bobby turned round to the crowd and gave a wry smile, who says testimonials were useless.

Favourite Moment?

Another tough one but got to pick the moment that entered my mind first, after being denied the league title by a late Craig Falconbridge goal away at Dunfermline it was down to the last week of the season. A win at home against St Johnstone and the title was Celtic’s and they stopped Rangers winning 10 league titles in a row.

It was the great man Henrik Larsson that sent the home fans into delirium, cutting inside from the left putting the ball onto his right foot the shot curled into the corner and the place went crazy. Harald Brattbakk sealed the victory late on and made it 2-0.

It was amazing to be there the first time Celtic had won the league in 10 years the atmosphere was fantastic. I’ve never enjoyed singing “We are the Champions” so much.

7 Responses to “My Team & I: Celtic”

  1. Very surprised you didn’t pick Larsson ahead of Nakamura.

    Sir Bobby was a true gent.

  2. Everyone loved Henke, I also never got a Larsson #7 jersey appreciate so much what he did for the club but I always like the players noone else seems to.

    I loved Naka before most Celtic fans did.

  3. Yeah I remember Naka from his Reggina days, weird strip! Was Strachans best signing.

  4. Enjoyable write up – particularly the regi blinker shirt story with the girl saying it was the first they’d ever done!
    Naka was a real coup for Scottish football when Celtic signed him. As a Rangers fan I can’t say I miss him, but the SPL is certainly poorer without him working his magic.

  5. Yeah Fraser it made me laugh too, I was the Regi Blinker fan club.

    I miss Naka, I had high hopes on his fellow countryman Mizuno showed glimpses but never pushed on.

  6. Ki looks more promising every week.

  7. great post, thanks for sharing

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