CELTIC goal hero Chris Sutton has revealed how Martin O’Neill persuaded him to become his first signing for the Hoops in the summer of 2000.

The Irishman had just taken over following the failure of the “dream team” of Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes the previous year.

Mark Viduka had made it clear he wanted to quit the Parkhead club and O’Neill’s first job was to find a replacement when the Australian international striker moved to Leeds United for £6million.

PARADISE…Chris Sutton slides the ball past Ibrox keeper Stefan Klos in a derby encounter at Parkhead.

He turned his attention to one-time England frontman Sutton who had struggled to make an impact at Chelsea after his £10million switch from Blackburn Rovers the previous year.

The new Celtic gaffer took the unconventional approach by criticsing the qualities of his frontline target when they first met.

Sutton, in a past interview on Open Goal, recalled: “I met Martin O’Neill in a hotel in Beaconsfield.

“I could’ve gone to Spurs, could’ve gone to Middlesbrough with Bryan Robson who was the manager – and then I met Martin.

MAKING A POINT…Chris Sutton celebrates another strike with John Hartson about to join in.

“He actually sort of slaughtered us for five minutes, but then he got us onside and basically told me how bad I was at Chelsea, but that he’d followed my career closely and admired me.

“I was nearly sick when he said that!

“He talked about his thoughts for Celtic, how they were building and he was going to bring players in and that I should give it a go.

“I always liked Martin from afar, being a Nottingham Forest fan when I was little I had followed him and his management past.”

Sutton, who had scored only three goals in 39 games for the London club, netted the winner on his debut against Dundee United at Tannadice on July 30 – and it was the start of something special for the player, the manager and the support.



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