FORMER Celtic fans’ favourite Jozo Simunovic is on the look-out for a new club – yet again.
The Croatian centre-back, only 28 years old, has not kicked a ball in competitive action since being released by HNK Gorica in the summer.
Simunovic made a mere eight appearances for his homeland club after being out of football for over a year following his exit from the Hoops in July 2020.
The former Under-21 back-four operator, who was brought to Parkhead by ex-boss Ronny Deila in a £4million move from Dinamo Zagreb in September 2015, has struggled for game time since suffering a knee injury four years later.
UP IN THE AIR…Jozo Simunovic strains to get to a high ball.
He turned out only 16 times for the champions in his final campaign before the club decided not to activate the remaining 12 months clause in his contract.
Simunovic won five titles with the Hoops and his final outing came in the home 3-1 Europa League loss to FC Copenhagen on February 27 2020 when he unfortunately gifted the Danes the opening goal with a calamitous back pass just after the interval.
His stay in Glasgow was plagued by injury. He underwent a knee operation three years ago and also suffered knee ligament damage three years earlier when he missed a huge chunk of the season.
Simunovic made an emotional statement shortly after leaving Parkhead for the last time and, as CQNreported, said: “It’s a bit weird as I was at Celtic for five years and was a good part of the success.
“Was I surprised to leave? It was the club’s decision and I need to accept it. They are looking at everything as a business.
“What can I do? Of course, I can say I am angry and sad that I am not at Celtic for next season.
“But I cannot change that. It won’t spoil the way I look back at my Celtic career. I am still very happy and proud.”
HAMPDEN HERO…Jozo Simunovic proudly holds aloft the 2019 Scottish Cup.
Simunovic added: “I cannot look back with bitterness because I had the chance to have five years at a great club.
“I loved every game I played for Celtic and I need to thank my team-mates, my coaches and especially the fans for their support.”
Following his departure from the Hoops, Simunovic was linked with Turkish clubs Trabzonspor and Goztepe, but no deals materialised. It was an identical story with Croatia outfit Rijeka.
There were reports Bundesliga duo Stuttgart and Augsburg were showing an interest, but, frustratingly for the player, once again nothing was firmed up.
Simunovic, though, did earn a contract with HNK Gorica in October 2021, but, unfortunately, they did not extend the deal beyond last summer.
Now the centre-back is in soccer limbo and can only hope someone will take a chance on him.