SIMON DONNELLY is the CQN guest on the eve of the Betfred Cup Final and the former Celtic forward is predicting a 3-1 win for the Bhoys.
Simon joined Celtic from Queens Park in 1993 and enjoyed six years as a Celtic player. Although he started out as a striker, Tommy Burns saw potential in him as a right sided midfielder/winger and that is where he made his name in the Hoops, forming a good understanding with full back Jackie McNamara down Celtic’s right hand side.
Tomorrow, Celtic take on Motherwell in the Betfred Cup Final and the game is being dedicated to one of Simon’s best friends in football, the much missed Phil O’Donnell. Simon talks about Phil in his interview and what the tributes tomorrow will mean to his family.
So here goes. Today’s #10IAR guest is Simon Donnelly, the questions were put to Simon by Scott Alcroft for CQN Magazine…
You started your career at Queens Park. How did moving to Celtic happen?
My move came about after being spotted playing with QPFC u18s and Reserves, I was invited to train with Celtic for a week before going to a tournament in Geneva. I signed when I got back.
What can you remember about the day you signed?
The day I signed my dad sneaked out of school (he was a teacher) he got someone to cover for him to go to Celtic Park with me to sign. I remember it being a glorious, sun shining day and after talks with Liam Brady we walked home to Burnside talking it over. My mind was made up and I signed the following day!
Who was your biggest influence at Celtic and why?
I’m lucky my education at Celtic was priceless, surrounded by players like Charlie Nicholas and Paul McStay, as a youngster to the first team. I learned off all my coaches but Tommy Burns had greatest influence on me as a kid , moving me from centre forward to the right side of midfield, he felt my style would benefit from playing there, but he was a huge influence on most of the lads coming through, a class guy as well.
Who were the characters in the dressing room?
We had some larger than life characters, Granty was always involved in any banter and Tosh McKinlay, the year we won the league we had to go to fulfil a game in Portugal the day after we beat St Johnstone to stop the Ten. Needless to say there was a few beers downed, I’ll never forget the boys pretending to carry Tosh into bars, the bouncers would stop us only for Tosh to stand up and walk in; he’s completely teetotal!
What was the best game you played in for Celtic and why?
1995/96 season was a joy to play in despite not winning the title. We were beaten once all season but too many draws were our downfall but I still get fans talking to me about this season. It’s hard to pin one game down, my first game at Ibrox against Rangers with no Celtic fans there, I felt I did well, and enjoy the 5-1 at Celtic Park a few years later!
What were your top 3 goals for Celtic?
My goal at Rugby Park against Kilmarnock, lifting it over big Marsh to finish off a flowing move. The goal against Aberdeen, playing a 1-2 with Henrik then prodding it into top corner 98/99 and a header at Fir park from a McNamara cross, I think it was the winner that day too!
When you heard that Celtic and Motherwell were going to dedicate tomorrow’s Betfred Cup Final to Phil, what were your thoughts?
My initial thoughts were that this was a great opportunity for his youngest son to realise what his dad meant to both clubs and sets of fans, the wee man is presenting the trophy to them before the game and I’ve no doubt will receive some welcome, it will be a special moment for him and his family!
You were very good friends with Phil, what do you think he would be thinking of this gesture and what do think the score will be tomorrow?
He’d love it for Luc, but Phil being Phil wouldn’t want the focus of attention, he liked just getting on with his job quietly no fuss!
I think Celtic will win 3-1.
What kind of man was Phil on and off the pitch?
Phil is one of the best people I’ve been fortunate to call a friend, an absolute gentleman, as a player brave, athletic, clever, most importantly though a family man who did it all for his wife and kids!
Finally Simon, what do you think of the job that Brendan Rodgers is doing and this current Celtic side?
Brendan has brought the excitement back, it needed it. 64 games unbeaten and he’s done in style, he’s encouraging youth, it looks like Europe after Christmas despite the other night’s result so it’s great times for the Bhoys just now ……….HH
Looking forward to the League Cup Final on Sunday.
Its great that Phil O’Donnells son is presenting the trophy, Phil was a talented player that will always be remembered for always giving 100%, its such a shame he was taken from us at such a young age. pic.twitter.com/Z5uWn6YEua
— JT (@J1888T) November 23, 2017
Simon, that was outstanding. Thanks also for your memories of Phil. We hope it’s a terrific occasion for his family and friends tomorrow and we can all show our appreciation of him. It will be an emotional moment when the love and affection for Phil from all around the Stadium is expressed. Good luck Simon and thanks for taking part in our #10IAR – hope you enjoy tomorrow at Hampden and you’re right about the score!
Interview by Scotty Alcroft for CQN Magazine.
Scott spoke to another Celtic star from the side that stopped the Ten earlier this week, read his interview with Enrico Annoni HERE.
NEW CQN PODCAST: RIGHT BACK TO 67 WITH LISBON LION JIM CRAIG, UNMISSABLE!
LISBON LION Jim Craig is the very special guest on the new CQN Podcast – out now!
Jim releases his new book, Right Back to 67, The Lisbon Lion Diary next week and we are pretty confident that this will be regarded as one of the classic Celtic books of all time.
There has been so much written about 1967 in some very fine books to-date but nothing like this. Jim kept a diary of his time at Celtic and in Right Back to 67 he is able to provide the authentic, inside story. It really is too good to miss.
You can order the book now from CQNBookstore.com and you will receive a signed copy. You can also add a personal dedication which is ideal for a Christmas gift. Simply email email@example.com with your dedication after you have ordered and Jim will sort this for you next week.
Jim is on fine form in the Podcast too, you’ll love it.
A Celtic State of Mind presents its 25th instalment of insightful discussion around the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning invincible Scottish champions.
Jim Craig joined Paul John Dykes and Kevin Graham in the Tolbooth Studios in Stirling to discuss the Lisbon Lions’ 50th anniversary celebrations in a year which also saw Celtic winning an invincible treble, a prestigious award from FIFA naming their fans as the best in the world, and even a BAFTA!
In this emotional interview, Jim reminisces about Jock Stein, Billy McNeill, Neilly Mochan, Bertie Auld, Tommy Gemmell, Joe McBride and George Connelly.
He also discusses his latest book, his magnificent Lisbon Lion Diary: Right Back to ’67. This memoir is a real fly-on-the-wall recollection of events from 50 years ago, brought to life by Jim Craig’s intelligent and humorous brand of storytelling. Order HERE.
The CQN Podcast has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few months, and there are many more guests lined up in the months ahead from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature and politics.
Connect with A Celtic State of Mind @PaulDykes, @anorthernprose and @CQNMagazine and subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or through your podcast player.
ORDER YOUR SIGNED COPY OF JIM CRAIG – RIGHT BACK TO 67, A LISBON LION DIARY TODAY!