JAMES McCARTHY was a Wembley winner on the day Wigan shocked Joe Hart and Manchester City in one of the biggest English Cup Final upsets of all time.

The Glasgow-born midfielder was outstanding for Roberto Martinez’s so-called no-hopers as they toppled the Etihad giants 1-0 with a last-minute goal from Ben Watson on May 11 2013.

It was the club’s first major honour in their 81-year history and City boss Roberto Mancini paid a heavy price as he was sacked 48 hours later.

By a quirk of fate, both McCarthy and Hart became team-mates when they signed for Celtic on the same day, August 3 2021.

JUST CHAMPION…Joe Hart holds aloft the Premiership silverware as he says farewell to Celtic fans at Parkhead after the 3-2 league win over St Mirren on May 18.

Ange Postecoglou brought in the experienced Republic of Ireland and England internationals as he rebuilt the squad that performed so lamentably the previous term when the team limped through their first trophyless season in 11 years.

The anchorman, then 31, signed a four-year contract when he arrived on a free transfer from Crystal Palace after a six-year career at Everton, while Hart, at 34, agreed a three-year deal when he was recruited in a cut-price £1million from Spurs after spells at West Ham, Burney and Serie A Torino.

Their careers at the champions could not have been more diverse.

Hart left the club to the raucous cheers of joyous Celtic fans following the team’s 1-0 Scottish Cup Final victory over Philippe Clement’s Ibrox outfit at Hampden last weekend.

The 75 times-capped Englishman won seven medals – three Premiership titles and two each in knockout-out competitions – in a glorious goodbye to a wonderful career.

THIRTY-THREE MAN CELTIC SQUAD…and no sign of James McCarthy.

McCarthy, unfortunately, has been nowhere to be seen this season and did not even manage to get a place in the club’s official team group photo at the start of the campaign.

The previous year had seen the once much sought-after performer fail to start a single game and he was involved in only 62 minutes of action. His last first-team sighting was as a substitute in the 2-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth on October 8 2022

Brendan Rodgers inherited McCarthy and, as reported by CQN back in September, Postecoglou’s successor said: “It’s a real shame for James, because growing up he was obviously a Celtic supporter.

“I saw him a lot in the Premier League and he was a fantastic talent. He’s a great guy, but sadly a few injuries and niggles have curtailed his time here so he will be looking to move on. “There’s been interest and his agent and the club are trying to agree on a compromise.”

MISSING IN ACTION…the rarely-seen James McCarthy.

Apart from interest from Greek side Volos FC in an attempt at a cheap loan deal in January, there has been no movement for McCarthy, who still has a year to run on his contract.

Hart retired to a tumultuous and thoroughly deserved fanfare from grateful Celtic supporters.

It’s highly unlikely there will even be the mildest ripple of applause when McCarthy walks through the Parkhead exit for the last time.

Football can be a strange game at times.


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