A DEFENSIVE error allowed John Souttar a free header to inflict Celtic’s first opening-day league fixture loss in TWENTY-FOUR years at Tynecastle on Saturday night.
Coincidentally, the previous first-game stumble also came in Edinburgh in 1997 when substitute Henrik Larsson, on his debut, miscued a clearance which fell perfectly for Hoops fan Chic Charnley to strike a vicious first-timer past Gordon Marshall to hand the victory to Hibs at Easter Road.
Like the encounter across the capital at the weekend, the match ended 2-1 for the hosts and Celtic’s new manager had suffered a setback on his Scottish League baptism.
Back then, it was Dutchman Wim Jansen who endured the disappointment of defeat. At the weekend, it was Greek/Australian Ange Postecoglou.
By another astonishing coincidence, one of Jansen’s former clubs had been Japanese outfit Sanfrecce Hiroshima while Posecolou arrived from Yokohama F Marinos just last month.
However, it is uplifting that Celtic overcame all obstacles back then to win their first title in a decade as they underwent a summer revamp with players such as Larsson, Craig Burley, Paul Lambert, Darren Jackson, Stephane Mahe, Marc Rieper, Regi Blinker and Jonathan Gould being introduced to the club.
Paolo di Canio, the fans; favourite, moved to Sheffield Wednesday and Piere van Hooijdonl and Jorge Cadete would soon join him out the Parkhead exit.
Postecoglou has already added Liel Abada, Carl Starflet and Kyogo Furuhashi to his pool of players while Kristoffer Ajer has led the exodus with his £13.5million switch to Brentford.
So, can history repeat itself?
The dramatic tale of season 1997/98 is told by author Alex Gordon in his latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’, the tribute publication to the club’s glorious 51 untainted titles.
With insider knowledge, Alex, a former sports editor at the best-selling Sunday Mail, charts the remarkable about-turn in Celtic’s fortunes in one of the most memorable seasons in the club’s history.
* ‘CELTIC: 50 Flags Plus One’ celebrates the club’s remarkable fifty-one league championships in their glorious history. To order a copy – and get a FREE book, ‘Seville: The Celtic Movement’ – please go to: ‘CELTIC: 50 Flags Plus One’.