CELTIC’S talent-spotters were suitably impressed by Mo Bangura’s strike rate at AIK Stockholm to draw him to the attention of manager Neil Lennon.
The Sierre Leone international fired in 14 goals in 35 games for the Swedish club and that tally persuaded the Hoops boss to part with £2.2million in August 2011 to add him to his firepower at Parkhead.
Lennon already had Gary Hooper, Anthony Stokes and Georgios Samaras vying for the two main attacking positions and he reckoned 22-year-old Bangura would offer another option.
The frontman signed a four-year deal and took his bow as a second-half substitute for Stokes in a 4-0 win over Motherwell in Glasgow on September 10.
Alas, he didn’t mark the occasion with a debut goal. Even more unfortunately, he didn’t score a solitary goal in ANY of his Celtic appearances, all 16 of them.
DEBUT BHOY…Mo Bangura is introduced to Scottish football with a flying tackle from Motherwell’s Keith Lasley in the Hoops’ 4-0 win on September 10 2011 at Parkhead.
The cumbersome forward looked woefully off the pace and out of place and his cause wasn’t helped when a knee problem kept him out for three months. Bangura struggled in his comeback bid and was eventually sidelined for the remainder of the season.
In August 2012, he might have hoped to make up for lost time. Instead, though, he was shipped back to AIK on loan after just one outing. The misfiring marksman was returned in December, but it was clear there was no future at Parkhead and he was sent out on another temporary transfer to Sweden, this time to Elsborg.
By a remarkable coincidence, the teams were drawn together in a Champions League qualifier. No-one had inserted any clauses prohibiting Bangura from playing against his parent club and there were no UEFA rules to prevent such a bizarre happening.
He played in both ties, didn’t score in either of them and the Hoops won through 1-0 on aggregate with a Kris Commons header at Parkhead.
It was similar to the situation in which Patrick Roberts found himself in late 2016 when he played for Celtic in their group stage games against Manchester City, the club who owned his registration.
The fans’ favourite even scored the Hoops goal in the 1-1 draw at the Etihad following the thrilling 3-3 stalemate at Parkhead.
On January 31 2014, with 18 months still to run on his contract, Bangura’s Celtic deal was terminated by mutual consent.
AIR WE GO…Mo Bangura, watched by team-mate Gary Hooper, attempts an acrobatic effort against Motherwell.
It was another bewildering transfer in the club’s history, but you couldn’t fault the player for lack of confidence.
On the day he sealed the switch, he said: “To come to Celtic gives me a good feeling because it’s another step in my career. I’m talking about the Spanish league, the English league or maybe the Italian league.
“If I can do my best here with Celtic then I will see what the future holds. If possible, I could make the next step in one year – if everything goes well and the club is willing, why not?”
Bangura didn’t get to play in the top flights in Spain, England or Italy and, instead, he moved on to Turkey and China.
His last stop was at Acropolis CB, a Swedish third-tier club formed by Greek immigrants as the name would indicate.
Their ground holds a capacity crowd of 300. Bangura never achieved the heights he dreamed of and his playing career was over at the age of 29.