TWO blokes from farflung corners of the globe have been eulogising about Celtic over the past week or so.

A chap from Yokohama in Japan and another from Athens, the capital of Greece, were clearly singing from the same hymn sheet.

Reflecting fondly on his four years in the east end of Glasgow following his July 2005 arrival from Serie A outfit Reggina, Shunsuke Nakamura, speaking to the media in his homeland, reminisced with an expressive smile: “There were so many great moments.

“My favourite moments? That is easy. My best memory is playing in front of over 50,000 or 60,000 fans at Celtic Park.

“I will never forget those loud cheers like when I scored my goal against Rangers. It was perfect.

“There was also the free-kick against Manchester United in the Champions League.

“I will never forget that moment. Celtic fans are an irreplaceable treasure.”

Ange Postecoglou, who lived for five years in Athens before his family emigrated to Australia, also waxed lyrical following his two brief, but indelible, seasons at the club.

Quizzed by the English media about his time in Scotland, the new Spurs manager replied unequivocally: “Celtic is a special club. If you have a bucket list of clubs you want to manage, that’s probably one of them.

“The supporters aren’t really supporters, the club is an extension of them, it’s a family.

“We had a brilliant two years, a great group of players, great staff. We had some fantastic success and great moments. I’ll cherish them.”

Amen to that, dear friends.

If I may be permitted to join the two knowledgeable and persuasive rhetoricians, I would like throw in my tuppence worth about supporting this sporting colossus.

I was born in the Gorbals, not quite as exotic as the birthplaces of Messrs Nakamura or Postecoglou, but I can avow Celtic will always live in an unyielding and sacrosanct part of my very being.

Here is my author’s note from my tribute book to Celtic, 50 Flags Plus One‘, which details the first fifty-one untainted titles of the club’s illustrious history. I meant every syllable.

IT’S a journey we, and all before us, have travelled.

A momentous odyssey, enchanting and beguiling, commencing with the initial steps towards irreversible affection, loyalty and commitment from day one of witnessing your team in action. Our team, I should say.

We turn up on matchday, chasing the identical elusive dream, and we share laughter and sorrow, anxiety and anguish, joy and disappointment. On my personal pilgrimage, it’s a romance that comes to life amid the grimy splendour of crushed, empty cans and discarded beer bottles beneath the rusting, daylight-peppered corrugated iron roof of the old Jungle.

The football ground, a vast, colourless colosseum, sits in a neglected part of town; dreary desolation is evident among the utter wretchedness in the shadow of disintegrating buildings propped up against each other in the ceaseless struggle to remain upright. This is the east end of Glasgow, the city of my birth, in the early sixties; a part of the world that somehow escaped the intrusion of the twentieth century. In this decaying corner, there is a geographical phenomenon, an inexplicable gravitational pull where euphoria and woe sit side by side.

Out on the field, green-and-white hooped gladiators are representing Celtic Football Club.

It’s a cold and bright Saturday afternoon of November 9 1963 and Patrick Thistle are the opposition. I am an excited eleven year old and my adventure is about to begin. My team – our team – win 5-3 with Stevie Chalmers scoring a hat-trick. Playing that day are Tommy Gemmell and John Hughes. Decades later, I am honoured to write their autobiographies and be afforded the privilege of calling both personal friends.

My dad, John, and my uncles, Hughie and George, adorned in unfeasibly large woollen scarves in the team’s colours, are in attendance, as they are at this strategic spot every home game. Reminiscences, warm and glowing, live here.

There is the urgency and anticipation as kick-off nears. Your heroes – our heroes – are about to emerge from the darkness and anonymity of the tunnel. Out they come, one by one, to a welcoming cheer; for some spectators the highlight of their week.

The first stride leads to an expedition through the decades that can excite and exasperate. There will always be something special about this club, our club. Celtic Football Club.

Yesterday has already faded and as today edges towards tomorrow all we will have in common is the memory.

And, for that, we can all be truly and eternally thankful.

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