Usually we head straight home, but that day we stood around the front door of Hampden Park, waiting to see the players emerge with the trophy. It was big Billy’s last game, it also provided an enduring memory of Paul Wilson, but it was the unused Jimmy Johnstone who engaged the fans most. In the days which followed Jock Stein had ‘the chat’ with Jinky. Celtic’s greatest ever player, still only 30-years-old, was released from the only club he’d ever been at.
Jinky later acknowledged he expected the news. Jock had been using him increasingly sparingly, and mostly as substitute, and these were the days before clubs supported large squads. It was the end of an era, a sad time all round, but this is football, and football is ruthlessly harsh to everyone eventually.
Georgios Samaras has come through the wringer at Celtic, often target of the boo boys and denied the support and encouragement he needed to flourish. His languid style implied a lack of urgency, for some, but Georgios stuck to his beliefs on how the game should be played and had a late spell in the sun during the last two years.
He was instrumental in the incredible league win in 2008 but the Champions League campaign of 2012 will be his most memorable contribution to the club. Goals away from home against Benfica, Barcelona and the last minute winner against Spartak Moscow, for our first away win in the tournament, are his hallmark goals.
It wasn’t just the goals during that campaign, Celtic were fourth seed, up against three considerably stronger teams. Neil Lennon set out to defend and used Samaras physical attributes, as well as his natural desire to hold the ball, as his first stage in building attacks.
Celtic tried the same in this season’s Champions League but, not surprisingly, Sami more often than not, found three defenders around him whenever the ball approached. He was ineffective, as was Celtic.
In domestic football, Georgios, our main Champions League attacking weapon, was often regarded as a blunt instrument. Scottish teams defend deeply against the champions, who would, therefore, never ask Samaras to hold the ball up and bring others into the team. On these occasions his languid style frustrates those wanting a more urgent approach to their football.
The lack of an offer from Celtic will be a blow to Georgios, but I’m sure Peter Lawwell can more than stand the ‘blame’ for this one.
Very best wishes, Georgios. I hope you have a great World Cup and have your choice of next destinations.
The Celtic FC Foundation badge sellers had enormous fun before yesterday’s game. Many thanks to all who joined in, and who bought a badge. It was an easy way to feel part of this great club’s reason for being.
Issue 20 of CQN Magazine, CQLisboN, is out and enjoying great reviews. Click here to read for FREE.[calameo code=0003901717b11f6e50af4 lang=en page=2 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]