CELTIC hero Simon Donnelly has hailed wide Bhoy Filipe Jota for providing a lot more than just “tricks and flicks” since his arrival in August last year.
The flamboyant Portuguese flyer ticked all the boxes during his season-long loan from Benfica and Ange Postecoglou moved swiftly to get the 23-year-old on a permanent contract in a £6.5million switch in the summer.
Jota has continued to take the spotlight at the champions, providing goals and assists and his omission from the starting line-up against St Mirren in Paisley at the weekend was noticeable as the Hoops toiled to make an impression.
PARADISE…Filipe Jota accepts the acclaim of the Celtic fans after his brilliant goal against the Ibrox opponents in the 4-0 romp on September 3.
He eventually made an appearance at the start of the second-half when he replaced Daizen Maeda, but, unfortunately, could not inspire his team-mates as the visitors slumped to their first league loss in 364 days.
Donnelly, a member of the Wim Jansen team that halted Walter Smith’s Ibrox outfit’s bid for 10 in a row in 1998, remains an admirer of the winger who claimed 13 goals last term and has contributed four in this crusade.
The former Scotland international forward said: “I was impressed with Jota last season and he has looked the part this time around. Wide players sometimes have the tricks and flicks, but not the end product.
“He does. You just have to look at his assists and his goals.
“He is kicking on and I can only see Celtic getting better. Ange is building a good team. They are exciting to watch.
A BIG HAND…Filipe Jota applauds the Celtic support.
“I have covered most games since Ange came in and they are progressing all the time. The manager has recruited well again and we will see more of Sead Haksabanovic in the next few weeks.
“We are seeing lots of goals from all over the park and I see the confidence and belief in the players. A lot of them are young, guys like Abada and Jota, but they have grown.
“They had an experience of Europe last year and results-wise it wasn’t the best, but it will stand them in good stead for this season.”
Donnelly, however, has a word of encouragement about old-stager James Forrest, now 31 and in his 12th year at Parkhead.
WIM’S WINNERS…Paul Lambert, Tom Boyd and Simon Donnelly promote ex-Celtic title-winning manager Eim Jansen’s book, Mastermind, at the Parkhead launch.
The one-time Celtic ace, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “James still has a part to play. He has his work cut out trying to get in the team with the guys around him.
“He is no spring chicken anymore, but he has still shown he has the quality. He wouldn’t be here otherwise. If I am a young boy then I would be picking the brains of James and Harry Kewell.
“It is an invaluable experience watching how these guys go about their business and training with them. When I was coming through it was great to be around guys like Paul McStay and John Collins.
“I’m sure the young boys will be doing exactly the same with James. He has shown time and time again he is a big-time player and he will feature at different times.”
* Simon Donnelly was speaking at the launch of Mastermind, the autobiography of Wim Jansen who passed away in January at the age of 75. The Dutchman won the league title in his only season as Celtic manager in 1997-98.