It is almost impossible to explain the excitement generated ahead of Johannes ‘Shuggie’ Edvaldsson in 1975. He was the first non-Scottish born Celtic player in my lifetime and his arrival marked a philosophical shift at the club; the development plan that secured the European Cup only 8 years earlier was no longer fit for purpose.
1975 was also the year we lost the league for the first time since Jock Stein arrived a decade earlier, almost certainly prompting the manager to broaden his search for reinforcements after the retirement of Billy McNeill and release of Jimmy Johnstone.
His first season at Celtic brought the harsh experience of Rangers winning the treble; the glory years were well and truly over, but Shuggie tasted glory as part of the double winning side in season 76-77. Kenny Dalglish’s departure that summer dealt the club another blow as it finished fifth in the Premier Division, failing to qualify for European competition just 11 years after reaching the summit, but Edvaldsson was one of that campaign’s highlights, finishing top scorer at the club.
Season 78-79 is remembered for its climatic conclusion, but it was a dogged campaign. Celtic were poor for much of the season with painful reversals, exactly the kind of attrition Edvaldsson had the character to overcome. He was provided crucial experience to a young Celtic team who beat Rangers 4-2 with 10 men on the final game of the season.
It was good to see him back at Celtic Park with visiting Motherwell teams in the 80s and good to remember him today, may he rest in peace.