A Gift from God
It’s probably fair to say that Lubomir Moravcik was nearing the twilight years of his career when the 33year old was signed from Duisburg in Germany, by Celtic in November 1998 by Manager Dr Josef Venglos.
Being signed for Celtic at such an age, it’s true some people had their doubts, as to whether Celtic had brokered a good deal, his signing also prompted a few ridiculous statements from the Scottish Media. One such hack was Hugh Keevins, who thought Celtic’s biscuit tin signing of Lubo for 300k was laughable, another media hack was even more foolish, in his condemnation, a certain Mr J Traynor said “The signing of Lubomir Moravcik at a cut price has merely caused Celtic further embarrassment.”
Just a couple of weeks later at Celtic Park it took Lubo just 12 minutes to make both hacks eat their words, when he scored his first goal against Traynors flute boys, Lubo scored his second of that day in 49 minutes, a further two goals from Henrik Larsson and one from Mark Burchill handed out a 5-1 thrashing to the now dead club from Ibrox. How does that hang with you now Mr Traynor ? At least Keevins finally admitted to being wrong (albeit twenty years later) and said he regretted every word he wrote about Lubo.
Celtic fans however, did not have to wait the full two weeks to find out Lubo had talent in abundance, on his debut for the hoops earlier, Celtic thrashed Dundee at Parkhead 6-1, he was inspiring, and the fans sensed there and then, that he was something special, and it wasn’t long until those fans were paying tribute to Lubo in a regular orchestrated “We are not worthy” bowing gesture towards him.
The following year Lubo was not selected much by the changed and inexperienced Manager John Barnes, who preferred to play record signing Eyal Berkovich, this decision was not popular with the fans, and along with Henrik’s leg break in Lyon, and the Caley Thistle bombshell, they all ultimately cost Barnes his job.
The departure of John Barnes, and then Kenny Dalglish meant that in June 2000 Martin O’Neill took over the Celtic managers job, and Lubo would again return to prominence.
Moravcik was certainly one of the most talented two footed players ever to have played in Scotland, It’s actually incredible to think that someone with such an abundance of talent had never won a major trophy before coming to Celtic. Lubo played mostly in Slovakia, France, and Germany, his former clubs, included Sporting Club Bastia, Nitra, St Etienne and Duisburg.
Although Lubo was virtually unknown when he arrived in Scotland, he did have a good career before joining Celtic, I mean it’s not just anyone you could ask to fill the previous number 10 shirt of Michel Platini worn at Saint Etienne, now is it ?. Lubo is still regarded as a hero to St Etienne fans. There were reports that he would join Marseille previous to coming to Parkhead, but he got injured and thankfully for Celtic fans, that move never transpired. He was also a top class internationalist, finally winning roughly 80 full caps for Czechoslovakia/Slovakia. Throughout his brief time at Celtic Lubo would go on to win two Premiership titles, two Scottish league cups and one Scottish cup. Like any very talented individual Lubo could drop in and out of games, but when he was on, boy was he on.
In the Old firm game, now known as Demolition Derby, in August 2000. (back in the days when Celtic had someone who could actually take corner kicks) Chris Sutton scored his first Old Firm goal from a break from a Lubo corner kick in only 50 seconds into the game, another Lubo corner was met by Stiliyan Petrov to make it 2-0, and Lubo’s beautiful twist away from Fernando Ricksen, in the penalty box, as he turned and set up Paul Lambert in the 12th minute, with that Lubo look as if to say “Here scud this make it 3-0” was exquisite, many of you may remember the commentator excitedly saying “This is an Annihilation !!”
Celtic’s fourth goal will be remembered fondly, and was voted by some, as their greatest ever old firm goal, when Henrik collected a pass from Chris Sutton sprinted away from Tugay, calmly nutmegged Kontermann and sublimly chipped the ball over Klos to send the fans into a frenzy.
Probably Lubos best game against the blue hordes, was at Ibrox in Celtics Treble Season of 2001, They were ultra confident Celtic would not beat them, to knock them off their perch, as their last defeat by the Bhoys at Ibrox was six and a half years earlier. They were unaware that Lubo had not read the script, as a matter of fact, that day he tore it up and handed it back to them, Lubo scoring twice while handing them a 0-3 home defeat, Henrik Larsson getting the other goal. This was the beginning of the end for their dominance, and Lubo and Larsson’s class combined would terrorize most defences.
One other game of note for Lubo was Celtic vs Juventus Champions League game at Parkhead in 2001. Lubo was selected by Martin O’Neill to start in this game (that Celtic needed to win to qualify, while hoping for Porto to drop points), for his creative talents, and showcased these beautifully in the Champions League by setting up 3 goals, one for Joos Valgaeren, after skinning the defender Paramatti three times with some lovely twists, and 2 for Chris Sutton, by way of a corner kick, and free kick (Suttons second goal was a peach), incredibly Lubo was booked for diving after being tripped just outside the penalty box by Ferrara, who was consistently fouling throughout the game. (The french referee did not handle the game well at all). Lubo should have scored a couple in that game himself, and Henrik also missed a golden chance or two, it was a game which Celtic won 4-3 Henrik scoring the other (a penalty) after Sutton was almost wrestled to the ground in a cage fighting manner, and it was a game which Celtic should have had at least one more penalty if not two.
Make no mistake this was a quality Juventus team, and Lubo was immense that evening. Unfortunately for Celtic, Porto did not drop any points, and I often think had Martin played Lubo more in that Champions League round, Celtic could have done much better. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, alas it was not to be and Celtic then dropped into the EUFA Cup/Europa.
Lubo’s thunderbolt 30yard goal against Hibs at Easter road in our 1-4 win in August 2001 was a peach. Other strikes, left foot, right foot the likes of against Motherwell and Man Utd (Ryan Giggs testimonial) are still joys in my mind, as are many more, and in the game against Hearts when he trapped the ball with his arse, absolutely delightful. Lubo had a god given talent that had “the ability to lift arses off seats.”
For these players to compliment Lubo in such a way, shows just what a special talent he was.
Henrik Larsson: “Lubo is going to be almost impossible to replace, as players like him do not come around very often.”
Ronald DeBoer: “Lubo is a player that makes people want to come and watch football”
Paul Lambert: “Lubo is the most skilful player I have ever seen at Celtic in my time there.”
Zinedine Zidane: “He is probably one of the best No.10’s that I have ever seen.”
Pavel Nedved: “I was fortunate to play at Celtic Park in the same game as Ľubo, but not fortunate with the way he played against us”
Eric Cantona: when asked to swap shirts, after a game. “No i want Lubo’s shirt”
When Lubo finally left Celtic, three years later in 2002 aged 36 for Japan, it was to meet up with the man who gave him his first international cap, and the same man who brought him to Celtic, Dr Josef Venglos. Lubo will forever be fondly remembered by Celtic Supporters as “A gift from God !”
Lubo is now a football agent working from his home in Nitra Slovakia and the Vice President of the Slovakian FA.
Here’s a reminder of a wonderfully talented, two footed midfielder, that we were blessed to see when he joined Celtic, even if only for such a short time.
The final words should come from the man himself.
Lubo Moravcic: “The Celtic fans said I was a gift from God, but it was the opposite – Celtic was a gift from God to me.”
The above is by ASWGL. Should you fancy firing one in for the front page yourself the email address as always is email@example.com
ASWGL, many many thanks for that excellent piece.
I was pondering did I see Lubo in the flesh and reached the conclusion I would know if I did but the weird part is I still have a Lubo tshirt from one of the wee vans on the way upto the park. I was going occasionally around then, and clearly he was a Celt if they are selling his tshirt.
I guess I missed witnessing him, my loss of course.
He was one hell of a player and I will never forget how two footed he was. I have his book here and theres a Martin story where he takes a pen with his left rather than his right, and Martin thought he was right footed and effing about. Theres a few early bust up stories, but Martin quickly twigged.
Also he played with a smile on his face, too rare that happens. Unassuming Henke seemed to be the perfect foil for him and a great partnership was forged though in Scotland with its potato fields and hammer throwers the big man to partner Henke made a lot of sense also.
Its weird we never seemed to have forged a professional relationship with him as he would have his ear on the ground there, but our entire scouting seems to revolve around Dahan or Epl cast offs and is in real need of modernising. Slovakia seems to be a good market to scour, ripe for the plucking and decent value. Pity.
Lubo would probably be on the bench for any best Celtic 11 side, but what a player to have attacking tired legs with his guile and superb ball control.
Like many I just wish we had seen him in his younger days, though we should be so very glad he did come and light up our lives later in his life. A genius that will never be forgotten.
Thanks for the memories Lubo.
You were a Gift from God indeed.
I think It was Jim White, If not him some other SMSM prick, once asked through a translator to Lubo something along the lines of
How does it feel to go from a zero to a hero in one game after whipping the Huns 3-0 at Ibrox to which Lubo replied tell this guy I was never a zero.
” how come you’re so good?” Jim White?
Truly embarrassing at times. Just like his emloyers. In an industry without much integrity or intelligence, he was truly scraping the barrel.
The Ten million bid fake news also.
They loved him over there.
Be glad never to hear his name again .
Great article on Lubo…truly a joy to see the wee guy at Parkheid, we truly were blessed.
Re Jim White, a pure tit? But who’s the bigger tit, him or Joey. Judge for yersel and have a laugh….
Lubo was involved in a bit of scouting for the ‘Tic although there were no significant signings from it that I recall. I am aware of at least one youngster that was sent to us by Lubo but he was never signed and I have a feeling he was involved in the signing of the Twardzik twins but I can’t find any info anywhere to verify it, so maybe I’m imagining that!!
Lubo was an exceptional technical player. I loved watching him and I couldn’t tell you the number of times he held the ball up waiting for Agathe to make an overlapping run but despite Lubo’s promptings and the certainty he would put the perfect ball into space for Agathe to run on to, Agathe didn’t seem to believe what everyone in the ground did!!
His Rangers debut and the Juve 4-3 game are standouts in a fantastic Celtic career!
I’ve not been on for a couple of days but been lurking while I’ve been working!!
Some sad news on the site so condolences and best wishes for all who’ve been affected by illness and death. These are scary times indeed. Let’s hope this virus plateaus sooner rather than later and allow us a return to normality.
Terrific memories of perhaps my favourite player of the last 25 years. If you watch him in his early days,he is obviously right footed. To see him playing for us,both feet like wands,was a pleasure. Finding out later how much work he put in to improve his ability and confidence,well,you get nothing for nothing.
Can’t remember who it was who wished we had signed him when he was 26. Hmmm,that would have been about 1991 so he would have been burnt out by playing for us then. But,what if he had been one of the early signings of the Tommy Burns era?
Well,we played some great fitba in those days,but having Lubo there too? It would be the biggest sugar rush ever!
Wee reminder that there’s a petition needs signing!
Reasons to be cheerful,and another reason to boycott Amazon.
ASWGL, what a terrific article to start the day with! I can’t add anything to what you and Mahe have said. Lubo brings a smile whenever you think of him. A very decent bloke into the bargain I understand.
Jim Traynor and Hugh Keevins will be remembered (for a short time) for all the shite they said. What a legacy.
A most enjoyable read, thank you.
Two memorable occasions from Lubo, for me, are:
When he trapped the ball with his backside against Hearts and against St Johnstone when virtually from the corner flag, he put one in the top corner, both games were at Celtic Park.
The goal against St Johnstone is in the embedded link. Lubo had clearly been watching how the keeper lined up at corners during the game. An outstanding piece of thinking.
I’ve not watched that yet.
On the future grave stones of the legendary journos:
Jim Traynor – “Succulent Lamb”
Hugh Keevins – “Lubo Morvcic”
Great video of links to lubos goals, while watching I was impressed with his heading ,the one he did the diving header I kind of cringed thinking he is lucky he wasn’t booted
He played with some great players and looked like he enjoyed every minute
Cheers AWSL great memories
Interesting wee paragraph on JJ. Might be that Douglas Park may be struggling to ensure the viability of his business. Given that he has sunk about £15m into a dead end already,there may be trouble ahead.
In a previous password protected article I outlined the slew of new charges against Parks of Hamilton. Every property is in lien to HSBC UK Ltd. One now finds that Santander has a floating charge on all the inventory of cars and buses. How much was raised was unknown.
Given the urgent timing one could speculate that they have raised funds to save Rangers*. This notion should be disabused. Putting their business on the line in the current market would inexorably lead to lien default. The smart money suggests that they are shoring up their liquidity to withstand three quarters of corporate carnage. 2020 is a write-off for the Parks.
I don’t think he was showboating on that one. I think he mistimed it and just made sure it got over the line!
I didn’t realise that Keevins worked for The Grauniad(!)
Thanks Bobby, I’m glad you noticed my spelling mistake was intentional! 🙂
I’ll never understand why people can’t see this
Wakey Wakey Packy.
Watch this piece of shit lie through his teeth, while constantly throwing up these hand gestures ? Oh and, he really wants to make sure you see his 33 tattoo!
MORNING ALL, aswgl brilliant post, only seen him a couple times in the flesh, when I borrowed my uncle packys season ticket, but what a player hit a ball with both feet, we were truly blessed to have him, even if it was only for a short time.HH
At exactly 11.42 in this vid, this fake ass cunt shows you who he represents.
JIM ,the mrs snoring woke me up @ 7-30?? another true story.?
You better hope Joan doesn’t lurk, she will be gunning for you.??
Good morning all from an overcast Govanhill.
JNP, I keep her well away from my laptop??
How’s the tunnel digging coming along?
BRRB, good morning from an overcast and chilly Cheshire.?
Not bad mate. Found Lord Lucan, Shergar and Joey Barton down there. Wee Joey said he landed there when he fell out of Broony’s back pocket.
BRRB, that was brilliant??
Excellent! I hope he landed on his head,he’d have missed his brain by three feet!!!
Mind,it might have explained his French accent. Seems that can happen.
While you were down there,was there any sign of the Rangers coming? The International Space Station report no sign,so they must have a cunning plan…
Superb drum tutorial last night. I understood every word.
Naw I didnae.
I thought he joooost battered the f..k outa them,you mean there’s more to it than that?
Shergar said they were horsed. ??
bobby, did you catch my truck story from yesterday?
I did. Novice,he was. I can drive my van,as with previous lorries,through the eye of a needle. Still,the unexpected does crop up now and again.
Well,he would know. He’s been dead meat for a while!
Another fake ass liar, showing you the coded hand signs ???
100% a hoax!
Big Packy, true story went to Sentinel Celts a few days ago, it was closed. good to see you back wi aw yer nonsense.?
BAD as the band Sparks sung Propaganda
marioB, how are you pal ?
I asked you the other day to mail me.
Still think it was caused by 5G phones? Still think pandemics only started occurring when Marconi came along? Still fancy telling coming up on 50,000 dead people that they’re really called Lazarus? They’re fine?
Knock yourself out on this one,mate.
Sign him. Sign the pair of them,pass and finish!
Will do, TET ?