FORMER Celtic midfielder Massimo Donati made his first appearance at Parkhead in almost eight years when he turned out for Hamilton Accies in their 1-0 defeat on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old Italian left the ground clutching a special souvenir – Hoops skipper Scott Brown’s shirt.
If Donati expected his first match in the east end of Glasgow since a Scottish Cup-tie against Queen’s Park in February 2009 to be a walk down memory lane, it was to prove an exhausting night spent chasing the opposition.
He said: “It was a very good moment for me to come back to Celtic Park because for years I did not come here to play.
“I just came here to watch some matches, but when you are out there, it is good because the atmosphere is always brilliant.
“I spent two good years as a Celtic player and when I was here the Celtic team was very, very good and it had some fantastic players.
“But this current Celtic team is very good with fantastic players, as well. They play well and they’ve got a very good manager in Brendan Rodgers.
“When the game started, I just had to focus on what I had to do because Celtic try to play a lot with the ball on the ground.
“It’s nice to see, but it’s very hard for the other teams because it means we have to run around a lot to try and get the ball back.
“Celtic also like to take a risk or two, but it’s nice to see. They are a very good team and we had to try and frustrate their fans and try and take some of our chances.
“And it was good that I was able to get Scott’s jersey afterwards. He is the only player who is still here from when I was here.”
As a Celtic midfielder, Donati’s finest moment was scoring a 92nd-minute winner against Shakhtar Donetsk in November 2007 to effectively fire Gordon Strachan’s side into the last 16 of the Champions League.
A month earlier, the former £10million midfielder had starred as Celtic the Hoops claimed the scalp of AC Milan, at the time the reigning European champions, thanks to goals from Stephen McManus and Scott McDonald, who are now team-mates at Motherwell, of course.
Ironically, Donati’s last game in the green and white hoops was a Champions League qualifier against Arsenal in London in 2009.
The Italian netted a last-minute goal, but Tony Mowbray’s men were knocked out 5-1 on aggregate. The following day Donati joined Serie A outfit Bari.
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