Wim Jansen, his talent and his undoubted charm


Wim Jansen was one of the main reasons Celtic did not win a second European Cup.  He was in the midfield of the Feyenoord team which overcame Jock Stein’s Celtic in extra time the 1970 final in Milan.  He went on the play in two World Cup Finals for Netherlands, losing to host nations Argentina and West Germany on both occasions.

A brilliant player, hard as nails, apparently, he was one of a handful of Dutch players who ranked below the Great Johan Cruyff.

On retirement, he coached at Feyenoord, managed briefly in Belgium, before taking the reins at Feyenoord in 1990.  As was the Dutch way at the time, a fall out caused him to leave, eventually moving to Japan.  His year there was not successful.

Few of my generation had heard of him the morning he was announced as Celtic manager in 1997.  Such was the media back then, we were told he was “the second worst thing to hit Hiroshima” – honestly, that was a newspaper report!

His first league game saw defeat at Easter Road.  In his second, a halftime penalty lead at home to Dunfermline was not enough to prevent the Fifers leaving with all three points.  Rangers seemed assured of 10-in-a-row, but Wim was only getting started.

Like many of you, I lived through that season.  I did not understand how we were able to win the league from such a position and still don’t.  We lost our best players going into the campaign and although the incomparable Henrik Larsson arrived from Feyenoord, Wim was not familiar with the bulk of the players who came in.

Gradually results improved, but honestly, the entire campaign was fragile.  Each game required enormous effort.  A League Cup win meant more than anyone would believe now.  A heroic win over Rangers at New Year made us consider the unimaginable may just be possible.  Then in April, points were dropped at home to Hibs, who were on their way to being relegated.

Then Dunfermline’s role in that season came into sharp focus again.  A win in Fife in the second last game and Celtic were champions after Rangers had lost at home to a last minute Kilmarnock goal the previous day.  Simon Donnelly put Celtic ahead but Craig Falconbridge equalised in the closing stages.  Was it ever to be Celtic’s time?

I wasn’t there at Dunfermline that day, most of us were watching at home, but we were there in our droves at the final game of the season at home to St Johnstone.  Being there when history came home meant so much.  In all the great Celtic games I’ve attended, the beating of Barca, Milan and Real Madrid, nothing, NOTHING, matches standing on the slopes of Celtic Park that day.

Our celebrations were cut short, the newspapers the following day reported a fall out, Wim was leaving Celtic after a single glorious season.  He would never manage again.  Dementia took him today.

You do not need to stay here long to make a lasting impact.  What Wim did at Celtic will forever be a credit to his talent and his undoubted charm.  May he rest in peace.

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  1. Goodbye Wim. How very sad.



    That afternoon in May 1998, when I got an unexpected ticket ten minutes before kick off in the fine hostelry that was Joanna Dees, will live me forever.



    Thanks for the memories Wim.



  2. RIP Wim,gave is a day never to be forgotten. Win the League Cup, and the League…….but Manager of the Year went to Jim Jefferies……aye ……..

  3. Loved the bit in the Wim article from the last blog,where it said in his book,”When he took on the Orange”.


    Slightly different meaning from his time with us,but just as true.


    A Legend forever in Celtics illustrious history.

  4. Was in Barecelona the weekend we won it. Jumping from bar to bar looking for anyone with a decent TV connection that could confirm the scores.



    Boy did we party down the ramblas that night.



    Thanks Wim , Rest in Peace

  5. RIP Wim – your impact will always be remembered – like others, I was at that game v St Johnstone.



    Early Larsson goal, then a sweater til Brattback buried Tom Boyd’s cross.



    I remember looking at the games the previous August and thinking how great it would be to be playing St J at home in the last game of the season, to win the league.



    You had to be around then to realize how hopeless that seemed, but somehow, that team and Wim did it.



    I also remember last August thinking could Ange be another Wim Jansen….still holding that thought and hoping he stays longer.

  6. Jocks Immortal Lions on

    RIP Wim, a Celtic Legend for all time.



    Watched the St J game in a bar in Gran Canaria and celebrated drinking champagne with fellow tims at full time. Great memories.



    Thanks for the memories legend ☘️☘️HH

  7. Does anyone have a link to the Feyenoord Book of Condolences online? Would be nice to share our thoughts and memories, about someone who was a Club legend there

  8. Texas,



    Pretty sure it was Jackie Mac that crossed for Harald B to score. Not checked but pretty sure Tom won the ball and than passed to Jackie for cross.



    RIP Wim.



    A Celtic Legend forever.


    Wonderful memories of THAT Final League game against St Johnstone, and how it finally sealed the League Title.


    It is also ” Fitting” that a certain WIM signing of some chap called HENRIK LARSSON which should also be viewed as the BEST bit of TRANSFER Business in Celtics history IMHO.


    WIM …Thank you so much for all that did at Celtic.





  10. RIP Wim. Your place in Celtic’s illustrious history is secured for eternity.



    I’m looking for a little bit of help, folks. 8 of us are flying from Knock to Edinburgh, landing at 1.30pm on February 2nd.



    Can anyone recommend a Celtic friendly minibus driver in Glasgow that would want the fare and pick us up? It’s just a one way trip.




  11. MPSHANKS – you’re right – I just played it back on YouTube and felt the emotions all over again.



    Also didn’t remember that the Lions stand was still that temporary stand under construction then..



    Will confess to having sunk a few single malts since then 🙂

  12. Lee O’Connor joins TRFC permanently.



    Barkas down at Sheffield United for talks.



    Clearing the decks csc




  13. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Clearly Feyenoord were his first and biggest love, but Wim Jansen’s lasting place in the Celtic family is assured.



    Quick recap of my memories of his time if I may (the ones that spring immediately to mind).



    His reference to “practice” rather than “training” … Which got me thinking more about what players do to prep games



    His forcefully urging the team forward at 5-3 against Tirol Innsbruck. As you say Paul, we were fragile but he got us over the line. (we won 6-3 to set up the Liverpool tie)



    Celtic 2 Aberdeen 0. The first performance that made me think … Hhmm .. we could win the League if we play like that.



    Last day against St Johnstone.



    I’d been out of the country when we played Dunfermline. On flight up to Glasgow I got talking to a young soldier (Celtic fan) who had been badly injured and was still recovering.



    He had a ticket for the game and was SO excited.



    When I think of that game I always think of him.

  14. Tom McLaughlin on

    RIP Wim Jansen



    On that day in May ’98 my elder son and I had season tickets. My younger son didn’t. I gave up my ticket so they could both enjoy the historic event.



    My brother and I adjourned to a packed Bairds Bar where the radio commentary was loudly broadcast. No live TV that day. We ended up in the midst of a street party in the Gallowgate.



    What an atmosphere. What a day.



    Thank you Wim.

  15. Pingback: Wim Jansen, his talent and his undoubted charm | Celtic FC News Now

  16. Rest in peace Wim.



    Paul67 – What a day the StJ game was, smuggled in a bottle of champagne that day and ended up on the pitch after the game.

  17. I have already said goodbye to Wim – a sad day.



    Paul’s description of that ‘stop the ten’ season, has some similarities to this current one – i.e. stop/start & missed opportunities. Let’s hope that it ends as successfully HH.

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