International Break,Best Ever… Final Choice,Centre-forward.

majoc…

As we move on to the final pick,there is really only one man who is going to be my choice.

Henrik Larsson.

I first saw him in the 1994 World Cup. Seemed to run about a lot to little effect,didn’t have much of a build on him,wasn’t impressed. Even though Sweden finished in third place,he only managed one goal. I wasn’t particularly enthused when Wim pulled out all the stops to sign him from Feyenoord.

I was a bit more enthusiastic about him when his 16 goals helped us win the league,mind. Including the first in the clincher against St Johnstone. And the following season-helped in no small measure by the arrival of Lubo,Gift From God-saw him really become a favourite of the fans.

He scored 38 times that season,and started the following season like a whirlwind. 8 goals in his first 9 league games,but his season was virtually over when he suffered a horrific leg break in a European tie v Lyon. So bad that fears for his career were real.

Henrik is made of sterner stuff. Back he came at the end of the season,and he even went to the European Championships in the summer.

But it was another event that summer which would see Henrik elevated to the status he enjoys to this day-King of Kings and an absolute legend. The arrival of Martin O’Neill.

Henrik positively thrived under Martin. His partnership with Lubo was more piecemeal than before,with Lubo being used (too) sparingly,but his partnerships with Evil Genius Chris Sutton and Big Bad John Hartson,ably abetted from midfield by Stan Petrov and Alan Thompson soon blossomed.

And how!

173 times he scored for Martin in 206 matches over four seasons. Not bad for a skinny winger who just ran around a lot! Of course,by then he had filled out some,had neck muscles like Mike Tyson,and had somehow learned to hang in the air to get his 5’9″ on to the end of crosses. And watch for yourself-see the link below-how he would make space in the box,leaving himself virtually unmarked.

Martin’s first season was Henrik’s most fruitful in terms of goals and medals,but probably his finest was in a year where he won nothing. 2003,culminating in that bittersweet final in Seville. Two great headers had us dreaming. We are dreaming still,as the trophy eluded us.

He wasn’t about to let it get him down too much,performing heroics again the following season,with over 40 goals-again! This time the trophy haul was more in his favour,winning The Double. It was,of course,to be the last time he wore our beloved colours competitively,departing for Barcelona,where he could feel the sun on his back.

He felt the congratulations of his team-mates on his back too-almost singlehandedly winning them The Champions League against Arsenal as well as two La Liga titles in his two years there.

Not content with that,he returned to his home club Helsingborgs and won the cup with them-and a Premier League medal with Manchester United when Alex Ferguson took him on an emergency loan!

242 goals in 313 games and you can see them all here-with grateful thanks to Moravcik for compiling them.

Thank you for a Magnificent Seven years,our Magnificent Seven!!!

 

*

Saltires en Sevilla…

Henrik Larsson 313 (1997-2004) x242 goals King of Kings

2 goals: that Lob versus Oldco and the winner in Boavista. One Stylish and one Effective. They sum up Henke and his class, with just the right amount of both those essential competencies.

I’m so glad he played in front of almost 60,000 fans every fortnight for the 7 years he was at Paradise. By the law of averages surely one young Bhoy will have seen something that inspires him to strive to play like him. He had everything the modern player needs to succeed. A mark of his brilliance is the way his fellow professionals respected him. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I heard the Barca players all stood and applauded him as he came into the dressing room after one particularly Stylish and Effective contribution to the team. Met him briefly on a flight to London once and was struck by his politeness and modesty.

We can watch every one of those 242 goals anytime on you tube. The 2 mentioned are ingrained until I turn to dust. Thanks Henke.

Other notables: any one would fit into the first eleven:

Dixie Deans; Tommy Burns; Lubo Moravcik; Stiliyan Petrov; Paul Lambert & Neil Lennon. George McCluskey & Brian McClair

Not so favourable:

Provan, McLeod, Nicholas and Judas all great players, but have All blotted their copybook and cannot consider them.

 

*

 

Mahe,,,

To complete Mahe’s ( Mad ) Men is the final forward slot . Like I said zero time for baggage here , do your job or ship out . I want consummate professionals who will deliver the goods full stop . Marko Viduka can gtf therefore.

When looking at the layout of my team thus far all I need is a finisher as that entire midfield will look to hit either this bhoy in the box of give it to Paolo who is deeper lying of the 2 .

So the most important qualities I am looking for is reading of the game and a top top quality chance to finish conversion rate . Right place right time is much more important in this instance than being a great all round footballer or pace etc. I basically want a goal machine as the talent galore under him should provide chance after chance .

The right flank in particular should see Jackie and Aiden combine very well with Paolo drifting over to add to the excitement . If I were an opposition manager I might very well target the left flank having perceived it to be the weaker of the 2 as Naka cant be expected to provide too much cover for Izzy , who is better going forward . To compensate for this Roy sits on the left side of midfield and Virgil assumes the left side of the centre half position . The scare factor of both cannot be underestimated .

Should a winger hit the by line Di Canio hovers for the cut back , Keano further behind for , or across the goal mouth where the main goal threat awaits .

By now you should know the answer, hes the obvious choice with over a goal a game ratio .

Henke my arse.

Jimmy “ Machine Gun “ McGrory is clearly the bhoy for me and with such a goal ratio ( 472 goals in 398 games ) is the outstanding candidate to fill my last slot and lead the Madmen to glory .

Of the many records he holds the 56 hatricks is one hell of a feat as is 8 goals in one game .

One would never imagine such a record was attained by one considered small standing at a mere 5” 6” which makes his tally all the more impressive .

Scotland caps came along with such a record of course , yeah right a measly 7 appearances show , once again , the bigotry at the heart of Scottish football.

Born in the Garngad of good Donegal stock he was great in the air despite his smallish stature and a Queens Park keeper once broke 3 fingers saving one of his headers.

With such a goal machine at their diposal it would be easy to assume Glasgow Celtic went on to thrive but the truth is he played during what is known as the barren years and was a bright spark in dark days for the faithful fans.

There is a bit of footage of the great man playing in the 1928 Glasgow Cup final but tbh its hardly worth watch such is the primitive ways and recordings , such a pity.

He clearly loved the Celts and would famously refuse a transfer to Arsenal for what would have been a world record fee at that time. In 2007 he was officially ranked the 7th greatest goalscorer of all time with the great Pele leading the pack of course.

Of all the players I did not witness personally I must admit that the two Jimmys take the top two spots , Johnstone and McGrory.

Mr McGrory , I would be honoured if you would grace Mahes Madmen as our main striker , and try not to kill your fellow striker Paolo , hes temperamental but good. And oh , ignore the Irishman in the middle, he will quiet down when you score a few dont worry.

“McGrory of Arsenal just didnt sound as good as McGrory of Celtic!”

Notify of

I really enjoyed that,fellas. Take a bow. I think the readers have enjoyed it too,and I’ve certainly enjoyed reading their opinions on it all.

Garry Duncan

Majoc
From previous article.
Do not think Goram played in the 7-1 game at Fir Park. Stevie Woods did, I think.The final player in my favourite Celts team, goes to the player who scored a belter of a free kick in that match, The Gift from God, Lubomir Moravcik. Lubo was a genius and would have the number 10 shirt in my team.
My favourite Celts team is:
1 Artur Boruc
2 Danny McGrain
3 Dariusz Wdowczyk
4 Roy Aitken
5 Billy McNeill
6 Neil Lennon
7 Jimmy Johnstone
8 Paul McStay
9 Henrik Larsson
10 Lubomir Moravcik
11 Bobby Lennox

YNWA

Sol Kitts

Has to be Henrik. How many times did we hear commentators, when Henrik was one on one with the keeper, say he’s let it run too far away from himself? Then dink, over the keeper and into the net it went. We knew it was going to happen because the guy was sheer class.

Mike

I have to tell you guys that your headers all this week have been fantastic and today’s is best of all, its quite humbling to be on a site with such memorable times, games and players highlighted by real Celtic men. Its been a delight to read all the posters, highlighting all their special Celtic memories of players and teams. So thank you all for sharing them and reviving my own memories of absolutely great Celtic players and teams….
Today its Terminator day and……. I will be back. later with my own thoughts, a special Hail, Hail to all of you!,

The Gombeen Man

Agreed Mike, this is turning into a special Celtic site, free of the egos. A Celtic site for ordinary Celtic fholk.

HH

saltires en sevilla

Garry

Some team buddy.

My final selection: 4-2-4

Boruc

McGrain Aitken Mjallby Gemmell
Murdoch McStay
Johnstone Dalglish Larsson Lennox

Subs: Forster; Reiper, Agathe; Lambert, Moravcik, Burns; Deans, McLair

Oooooh, coooooo

saltires en sevilla

Sol

Absoluteky agrree buddy. His one on one record must be one of the highest.

Hope Celtic by Numbers is hovering…

saltires en sevilla

Mike and Gombeen Man et al

Guys, Mahe and Mick are doing a great job, offering us all a voice unencumbered by adverts and an easily navigated blog.

It would help those guys, who are both extremely busy, if you would pick a Celtic subject close to your heart and send him 500/800 words.

It’s clear you all have good well-formed opinions that will help get the debate going..and keep the blog vital.

Hail Hail

The Gombeen Man

SeS,

No bother Mo Chara, I’ll do something. There are loads of guys out there with a unique perspective on Celtic and who would do the site proud…

I’m not sure if I fall into that category but I’ll give it a lash 😉

Hail Hail

saltires en sevilla

TGM

Will look forward to your chat buddy.

Troonbhoy

Hi bhoys
My last 2 players whom I have regularly seen playing in the hoops are
Henke Larsson
Chris Sutton
What a superb partnership they formed throughout the mon era,would like to think that with the rest of my selections they would have brought the big cup back.
HH
KTF

Rebus67

My final selection is also Henrik. What a steal he was from Feyenoord and a repayment for 1970.
His goal performance has already been mentioned, but he was also a creator of chances. He was a superb reader of the game. Willie Wallace had similar qualities and it would have been fantastic to see how these two gelled.

Thoroughly enjoyed this site over the last two weeks. It should become more popular with articles such as this one, but I hope it does not lose it’s relaxed, open to all feel.

Rebus

mahe

The Henke love is totally understandable and he left me slack-jawed many a time. But lads, 5″6″ and over a goal a game is just incredible. If we could get someone on that has seen him that would be special. Tough wee bassa who just knew where the back of the net was. One of ours also. Lead us to a record 7-1 as a manager just to cement the legend. I’m in awe of Mr Mc Grory !

Mahes Madmen

Mc Grory

Di Canio

Nakamura. Keano. Lambert. McGeady

Izzy. Virgil. Bobo. Jackie

Boruc

There’s your winners right there boys !

Mike

Ah well mahe, as the series was supposed to be about the players that you have seen playing football, then you must be the longest living thing on this planet. I was honoured to see James Edward McGrory, but he was in the Celtic dugout managing Celtic and that was in 1960. “The human Torpedo” was one of his nicknames because of his extremely brave low flying heeders into goal. He was so brave that he got for his bravery two broken noses and a broken jaw. Shooders like brickie, neck like a bull, built like a tank, signed by the legendary Willie Maley, he is to this day I believe he holds the record of 485 goals. But here is the thing, despite his scoring record and his legendary status, he shamefully only received 7 caps and his miserly amount of caps he still produced 6 goals. I wish someone could explain… that.!!

So because of his record goal scoring for the Celtic, he must be considered to be the greatest Celtic striker of all time my only regret is that I never witnessed that wonderful player, playing in the hoops, hundreds of thousands did and marvelled at his unparalleled bravery, skill and ability. Jimmy McGrory fully deserves his place among the many legends that wore our cherished hoops. Another Celtic man of Irish roots born in the Garngad, a man who played for the Celtic even on the day of his own fathers funeral, scoring his first Celtic goal against Falkirk. His father was extremely proud of him and would have been happy for him, knowing that another Celtic legend’s story had just begun.

James Edward McGrory, humble, modest, quiet, his legend lives on, his story is written in the Celtic history books, his exploits can never be removed, it is his story, his name, his legend, his legacy, our gain….

mahe

Hi Mike,
Excellent writing . Im not sure about that best you have seen lark , I went for the 11 I believe would beat all and any other 11 of current or ex players.
I would like to echo Majoc and say I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and there has been some great thinking and writing to accompany his idea, well done everyone involved .
Its clear though that attachment to certain teams and certain eras is a generational or age thing if you prefer . As I didnt see the Lions I dont tend to blog about them but that is not to say I do not rate them . Martins team I consider “ my “ team . And boy we were good !
My father , who was a serious straight talker , gushed in praise over the Lions big time . That teams picture went on my bedroom wall as soon as I was old enough to have my own room and many a night one or other would be pointed at and a story or two would flow from my da .
“ Monsters are afraid of him ! “ he would proclaim while pointing at Big Billy if I ever got scared as a nipper . Its funny though , he never took to Kenny , and although hes not around to ask why unfortunately I believe he was unimpressed by someone having to hide the Huns posters in his bedroom in order to sign and then jumping ship . His later director of golf role seemed to reinforce his views .

About Mr Mc Grory though , he was asked later in life who was the best Celtic centre forward he ever saw and picked Joe Mc Bride. Now the oul fella when he spoke of the Lions picture there was pride , when he spoke of Joe , I seen that look in his eyes , it was Awe ! I believe it was well earned . To be honest it probably should be those two up top but two out and out strikers cant play with each other , you need two different players up top for a very successful pairing . And old Di – I – Canio was not a traditional striker at all you will know . I imagine they would work well my pairing .

Hail Hail and cheers

Cosy corner bhoy

DeBehind as always,especially if it’s the call to the bar!
Outside right:Jimmy Delaney an Empire Exhibition man,Bobby Carrol from Ayrshire,star man with Irvine Meadow X1, and even Charles Patrick Tully feature in the position..BUT…blown out of the water by Jimmy Johnstone. Magnificent,
Inside right. The ‘wee barra’ ,Bobby Collins,Malky McDonald, Willie Wallace,but this time the accolade goes to the old one. Malky McDonald especially since I met him in Kilmarnock when his daughter joined our school and he ended up being next door neighbour to my mate!!
Centre forward:The two McPhails,Jock Weir,Joe McBride-all great,but It’s Henrik for me,it’s Henrik for me.
Inside left: Bertie Auld,a complete Celt, but Lubo is the man!
Outside left:Sorry to leave out Bobby Lennox whom I played against(and his two brothers).when they were with Star of the Sea, but …CHARLES PATRICK TULLY.
Well that’s my eleven though not as football is known today.
But everyone who donned the Hoops is a hero to me as well as being lucky’bassas’????

Mike

Different times, different players, different teams, but they all shared one similarity, they all played for the Celtic, men of steel, men of human quality’s, men of talent, honourable men. They all will live long in the memory box of great Celtic players who gave us a glint in our eye and football pleasure whenever they played.

How lucky we are to have witnessed such stellar players, how we marvelled at their character and fortune at wearing our most favoured colours. I echo your sentiments Cosy corner bhoy, once they cross that white line onto our Holy ground, they deserve our fullest support.

,big packy

so here is my all time celtic X1. simpson craig and gemmel Murdoch mcneil and clark johnstone Wallace chalmers auld and lennox.sorry. to you younger ghuys, but I saw that team compete in 2 European finals, and win one of them, so hail hail to the Lisbon lions..

Garry Duncan

Great way to pass a boring International break.
Great discussion by good Tims on here has been excellent. Reckon my team was a good one, but reckon that Big Packy and Cosy Corner Bhoy’s teams are the two best. Lucky auld bassas to have witnessed those Celtic greats in the flesh. Would love to time travel and witness, Delaney, McGrory, Evans and Collins for myself.
Saw the Lisbon Lions in the flesh, but was only a toddler. Magic chat lads.
YNWA xx

You up for an offering during the next international break,mate?

Garry Duncan

Definitely Maybe M ?
Of course I am pal. It is why I am here. Great stuff so far.
YNWA

A thing of beauty

Final pick for striker. Plenty to choose from down the years. Mcgarvey, Mcclair, Sutton, Hartson, even le petite merde were great forwards for the hoops but none come close in my memory to Charlie Nicholas. Yes I know he is a turncoat and refuses to speak positively about us now but in my minds eye I just see that wee jink, floating away from defenders and hitting it with the outside of his foot past the pathetic dive of Jim Stewart before doing the shuffle in front of our support. Jeez I’ve seen it that many times, I can recall word for word Archie McPhersons commentary. I just wanted to be him. And those that know me know that was never going to happen but my goodness I tried. I even had the mullet hair cut!! It pains me now to hear him be so disparaging about us but for those couple of years he lit up football and I loved him for it.

Fairhill Bhoy

MAJOC-that was brilliant ,only contributed Lambert,but it was a really good read and look back to the many superb players we have had the good fortune to witness wearing the hoops.Well done all involved ?Away to watch KOK goals now??

Garry Duncan

Twice I have been in a stadium, when if there wisnae a net, the baw would have whacked me in the coupon. First time I was in Broomloan for that goal you describe fae Charlie. Magical goal.
Second time was Anfield Rd end for Big Bad John to put us 2 up. Still see me on video celebrating that goal in Anfield.
YNWA

,big packy

garry, was watching on tv just knew when it left john hartsons foot it was netbound, you should have seen joans face.hh.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about contributing to this wee series has been the inevitable grief at leaving certain players out. Boruc,Van Dijk,John Clark,Naka,Tommy Burns,Paul McStay,Provan,McClair, Cadete, there’s a helluva listeven of those that I’ve left off this list!

The one I most regret being unable to find a place for is Lubomir Moravcik. He really was a Gift From God. I’m going to do an article on him towards the middle of next week.

What a player.

,big packy

majoc, I will echo that hh.

Troonbhoy

Oh Charlie nic my idol back in the day.
My mate, who was a cousin to jim duffy who was friends with Charlie,many a night in the toon with them both after the games what a carry on we had in the club’s.
But what a wonderful player 1st time round had the world at his feet and chose arsenal wtf,if Liverpool or man utd he would have realised his full potential and possibly a legend in British fòotball.
His 1st international goal against Belgium was top drawer.But as you all rightly say

What a loss/and waste of a fabulous talent.If it wasn’t for sky he would be a nobody

Sadly

That what he is to me.

mahe

New Article Posted

A thing of beauty

Garry I’ve alwys been glad I’m no on the telly at the football, it wouldn’t be pretty with some of the decisions we get against us. Troonbhoy. I agree, he wasted a phenomenal talent. BP, a great strike – it was still rising when it het the net. Just also to say I enjoyed the series and listening to the thoughts on great Celtic players. Buzzing for Saturday now

SFTB

My Final 11 is:-

Boruc
McGrain
McNeill
Connelly
Gemmell
Johnstone
Murdoch
McStay
Lennox
Larsson
Dalglish

The only one I have any qualms about is George Connely because his career was so short.

If I went 3:5:2 I could sneak in another midfielder like Lubo or play my favourite player, Davie Hay in there.

But with 4:4:2- this is the team.