JOZO SIMUNOVIC is STILL waiting to make his long-awaited return to football after the former Celtic defender signed for Croatian side HNK Gorica last week.

After 18 months on the sidelines since leaving Parkhead, the 27-year-old centre-back had hoped to make a comeback against Hajduk Split at the weekend.

However, Simunovic did even get a place on the substitutes’ bench in the goalless draw as his new team won a point that keeps them in sixth place in the top flight.

The injury-prone stopper, who cost £4million when Ronny Deila signed him from Dinamo Zagreb in August 2014, is hoping to get the nod for a place in the squad when Gorica face Mladost Zdrqlovi in the Croatian Cup on Wednesday night.

COMEBACK MAN…Jozo Simunovic’s instagram five days ago.

Remarkably, the last time Simunovic, a former Hoops fans’ favourite, kicked a ball in competitive action 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 and he made only 15 first-team appearances in his last season.

Simunovic, who underwent a knee operation two years ago and also suffered knee ligament damage three years earlier when he missed a huge chunk of the season, admitted he had been “angry and sad” at being released, as CQN reported in July.

Back then, he 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? I need to look at the whole situation in football right now and everything isn’t great with Covid-19.

ON THE BALL…Jozo Simunovic in action for Celtic early last year.

“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’s the club’s decision and I need to respect it. It won’t spoil the way I look back at my Celtic career. I am still very happy and proud.”

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.”

The Celtic fans are united in wishing the cultured central defender the best of fortune in his comeback. The Croatian star is due a smile from Dame Fortune.

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