My son was at Pittodrie last week for Aberdeen’s defeat to St Mirren. When he told me about it, the topic soon got round to Barry Robson, interim manager there and Celtic legend. “Celtic legend?”, he asked disbelievingly. I then went through the highlights of his two years at Celtic.
His first touch for the club, a free kick into the Pittodrie net. Then the late season cameo in 2008, taking over the central mid role in Scott Brown’s absence. Scott was in his first season at the club and struggling for form. Barry came on as a substitute in a home defeat to Motherwell and played the remaining games.
That Motherwell defeat left us 6 points behind Rangers, who had two games in hand. We needed to make up 11 points with only 7 games to play. Towels were thrown in all over Celtic Park. Next game out was home to Rangers; it was Barry Robson’s chance to enter folklore.
Barry had a journeyman career but this was his time and he took control from the first minute of that Rangers game, scoring the winner in a subsequent game against our then rivals and battling for every remaining minute of the season. The following year, his headed goal to give Celtic the lead against Barcelona in the knockout stages of the Champions League further enhanced a bright but short-lived star.
Players flit in and out of Celtic colours often. Since Robson, perhaps only Giorgos Giakoumakis has come close to having such an impact over a short, late-career, period. Two injuries meant Giorgos only had a solitary league goal to show before his return to action in January 2022, the day Maeda and Hatate made their debuts. He finished the season with 7 goals in his final 5 games, including a hattrick in a 3-2 win over Dundee. Cult status was secured.
Be sure of one thing: when Giorgos looks back, he will tell people Celtic saw the best of him. And that’s the reason we’ve moved him on. Best of luck to the new Man from Atlanta!
No matter how many leagues we’ve won since, I still get goosebumps thinking about 2008.