What Have The Romans Ever Done For Us?
A welcome change of theme this morning,with a guest article from JIMTHETIM53 about the pros and cons of signing foreign players.
I’ve been thinking about foreign players recently. The amount of them in our domestic game. Let me say first off, there isn’t a racist bone in my body. I couldn’t care less about the colour of a person’s skin, their nationality or culture. But I do wonder about the effect that bringing players in from all over the world has on home grown talent.
Of course,we have a long and chequered history in foreign signings. As far back as the 1930s,we were happy to sign Mohammed Salim,an Indian who played wearing bandages rather than boots! His homesickness saw his time cut short,much to the disappointment of Mr Maley,our manager. Fast forward to the 50s which would see us signing Gil Heron,a Jamaican who played in the early North American Football League . The Black Arrow as he was nicknamed was relatively successful in his few games for us,and I’m unsure why he didn’t get more time with us. He later joined Third Lanark,and took a bit of Scotland back with him to the States,in the shape of a Scottish wife.
He is also the father of legend Gil Scott-Heron,pioneer of many musical genres including rap.
It would take until the early 70s though for us to sign a foreign player and regular first-teamer.
Big Shuggie Edvaldsson! He appeared for us almost 200 times,in central defence,midfield,and even up front in his later years with us. He was our first successful import,but the last for some time. It would be another ten years before Dariusz Dziekanowski and Dariusz Wdowczyk would bring us an international flavour. The former was a frustrating genius,the latter a solid and reliable defender,and they were a pleasure to watch in difficult times. Rudi Vata arrived shortly afterwards,again solid but unspectacular.
Even though Tommy Burns was partial to foreign players-largely via the scouting genius of David Hay-signing the likes of Andreas Thom,Pierre van Hooijdonk,Paolo di Canio and Jorge Cadete,the trickle was yet to become a flood. Wim Jansen brought in Henrik Larsson and Regi Blinker,but Dr Jo added some impetus with the signings of Johann Mjalby,Vidar Riseth,Mark Viduka and Lubo. John Barnes added Dmitri Kharine and Olivier Tebily-just to prove this article isn’t all sweetness and light!-Bobby Petta and Stan Petrov. Damn near wrecked the latter’s career by playing him at right back.
Martin O’Neill was famed for his core of British players,yet he signed the likes of Didier Agathe,Magnus Hedman,David Fernandes,and a whole host of centre-backs like Bobo,Joos,Stan Varga and Ramon Vega. This opened the floodgates in earnest,and really underpins the article.
For these ready-made replacements halted the emergence of our youths into the first team. Sure,he gave us Shaun Maloney,David Marshall and the unfortunate John Kennedy,as well as introducing us to Aidan McGeady,but none would establish themselves in the first team with him as manager. Martin wanted experience,and giving young players that opportunity wasn’t in the game-plan.
Since then,of course,we have signed many more players from abroad than we have brought through the ranks. Is this The Glasgow Celtic Way?
We still boast about the Lisbon Lions being from around Parkhead, and I include the lad from Ayrshire! What would you think of the day when we field 11 players with no Scots amongst them?
We at Celtic have been blessed with some superlative foreign players in the past. You only need to think of Henrik. But we have also signed some duds too. I remember during the nineties when Scottish clubs were trying to play catch up with David Murray, overspending and signing foreign players. It seemed to be the fashionable thing to do. Fans often criticised their clubs for signing very ordinary players from abroad when there was just as good available locally.
Of course there are duds domestically too.
Celtic recently tied up with a Polish club, to be a feeder club in a way. In the article I read they listed about ten Polish players we have signed in the past. Who can forget The Holy Goalie? But apart from the top 4 or 5 there were players I can’t remember!
Celtic spend a fortune in relative terms, on our academy. Do we get value for money?
We live in a multi cultural world nowadays so maybe it’s a stupid question to pose. Maybe in the bigger picture frontiers are a bad thing. I asked a couple of Celtic supporters in the pub what they thought. One said there should be a limit of 3 foreign players in a matchday squad. To give more Scottish lads a chance. The other said he couldn’t care less if they were all foreign. If they wore the hoops that was enough for him.
My own feeling is that until the academy system in Scotland gets to the level of Holland or Iceland for instance, we will need to rely on our foreign brothers for the foreseeable future.
Something for us to chew over while we wait for Sunday! You can have Article of the Day my mailing it to Mahe