Player Superstitions Through the Ages, from Celtic and Beyond


MANY Celtic fans have pre-match rituals or superstitions, which simply have to be adhered to if the Hoops are to get the desired result. Whether it’s a lucky pair of green and white underwear or a favourite pre-game tipple, everyone does what they can to consciously will the team to success. However, all of that pales in comparison to the lengths players and managers will sometimes go to in order harness higher powers for their cause.

Ronny Deila – Tempting a Treble

In 2016, Deila admitted to being highly superstitious, but refused to divulge exactly what his irrational ticks were. However, it all got the better of the Celtic manager during the 2015/16 season. He read too much into a victory over Stranraer, which historically pointed to the fact Celtic would subsequently win the domestic treble. Unfortunately, his men were swiftly dumped out of both cup competitions at the semi-final stage and, despite winning the league title that year, didn’t manage a treble. Deila was replaced by Brendan Rodgers, who did claim the treble the following season. Deila is now living it up in New York City, where he manages New York City.

Kolo Touré – Last Man Standing

Over the course of his stellar career, Kolo Touré was exactly the sort of player you wanted on your team; a man who could score goals, break the line and create a moment of game-changing magic against all the odds. By the time he got to Celtic Park in 2016 his powers were diminished, but his superstitious nature was still as strong as ever. Such was his obsession with being the last player to take to the pitch before a game, he landed himself in trouble for Arsenal when he entered the pitch after the whistle had blown, receiving a yellow card for his troubles, which will have made someone somewhere very happy to have made that first yellow card bet.

Bobby Murdoch and Danny McGrain

Much like Kolo, club legend Bobby Murdoch always insisted on being the last player to take to the field of play. His teammate Danny McGrain had an even stranger ritual, only donning his shorts until the very last moment, as though the short-shorts of yesteryear somehow sapped his strength if worn too close to game time.

Celtic Opponents – Bizarre Excuses and Crazy Rituals

Of course, such strange habits are not the sole reserve of Hoops players and managers. Sometimes their opponents also come up with rather unique ways to stave off bad luck. Superstitions have even on occasion acted as a ridiculous excuse for a negative result. This was epitomized by Dan Petrescu, the former Chelsea player and manager of FC Cluj. He blamed the latter’s 2019 Europa League defeat to Celtic on the rain, saying precipitation always brought nothing but bad luck. Needless to say, Dan probably shouldn’t bother coming to manage in Scotland anytime soon.

Best of the Rest Away from Celtic Park – Pepe Reina

There have been some belters so far, but none of the superstitions listed above quite match up to the humdingers that have been recounted about one Spanish goalkeeper. Pepe Reina is perhaps the king of footballing superstitions, with a full repertoire of bizarre habits. One of these is a strange need to buy petrol prior to a game, even if his car’s tank is full, often leading to him driving in circles to make room for a few drops of fortune infused fuel. The night before a game he would religiously treat himself to a glass of wine accompanied by two (always two) ham and cheese toasties. Once happily at the stadium he would have to park in the same space, which at Anfield was bay 39. He then undressed in the exact same order as he did every week, and on, and on it goes. By the time the first whistle went, Reina had carried out practically hundreds of micro superstitions!

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