Thanks For The Memories,Artur
It certainly seems like a long time ago-and 2005 was certainly that-but there was a time when Celtic had two problem positions,largely unresolved since the days of The Lions.
The best managers of our club in my lifetime are Martin O’Neill and Jock Stein. Each of them had a blind spot when it came to goalkeepers,and neither could find a decent left back,apart from the peerless Tommy Gemmell-who was not a natural left back,by the way,and right footed into the bargain.
Just ask Helmut Haller!
I have nightmares about the goalkeepers we had to endure after Ronnie Simpson left and before Artur Boruc arrived. Many of those goalkeepers had nightmares on a regular basis,like clockwork on a Saturday afternoon and Wednesday night. Then Artur arrived,and bingo.
Once we signed him,we seemed to have a regular flow of top notch keepers,and it is hard to argue that Fraser Forster wasn’t the best of them. Just ask the Rangers players who peppered him for ninety minutes with everything they had one fine December afternoon at Hampden.
Or the Barcelona players who must have been sick of the sight of him!
Yet,maybe the best performance of any Celtic goalkeeper that I’ve witnessed was actually just prior to Artur’s arrival? And,yes,it was against Barcelona too. Nou Camp in 2004/05,as David Marshall held back the constant flow of shots from the home side,ably assisted of course by John Kennedy.
A pair of teenagers,against one of the best sides in the world? Unbelievable world-class performances that night from them both. Oh,I had such hopes for them.
Sadly,things happen,but David Marshall has had a very good career,even without quite hitting the heights I expected. And John Kennedy had his wrecked by an outrageous act of mindless violence against him in a friendly match while playing for his country. A disaster for him personally and professionally,and one too for everyone who could see how fine a player he was destined to be. Yet,sadly,destined not to be.
Artur will,by his own admission,agree that his own career never quite hit the highs that he looked destined for when we first saw him in 2005. But he had a magnificent career regardless of that. A Bournemouth fan of my acquaintance rates him as his club’s finest player ever,for example.
His performances shaded towards the end of his time with us,as personal problems seemed to cause him on field issues too. That’s the kind of thing that many of us have seen for ourselves,bringing your personal issues to work with you. Maybe we’ve all done it,if we are honest! He moved on,his best days for us largely just good memories. Unlamented,in truth,as his form had dropped so precipitously.
Yet it was fitting that we should be the opponents in his final match,while he played for his boyhood club. He might not have been The Original Holy Goalie-you all know who that is!-and he might not even have been born a Celt. But he IS one,and you could tell how much he loved everything about our club.
Especially the bit that enjoys a bit of hunskelping..
Thanks,Artur. You were a wonderful example of the fine art of goalkeeping,and also of the truth in the old adage that you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper. And you could take a decent penalty anaw!
Above article by BMCUWP