When the great Jock Stein claimed “Celtic jerseys are not for second best, they don’t shrink to fit inferior players,” he certainly wasn’t considering some of the duffers on this list. You’d imagine the very idea of Mo Bangura was somewhat alien to the man. Nonetheless, in this time of great plenty for Celtic, it is worth remembering that not every squad member can be a world beater. When Jonathan Greening can have a Champions League winners medal, Gary Mackay Steven can have a Scottish Premiership one.
So here it is, ten of the duffest players (and one bonus one!) to have won the Scottish top flight in the last ten years.
Gary Mackay Steven
GMS delighted us all as a human highlight reel at Dundee United with his ludicrous ball juggling antics against Kilmarnock, and his vital role in the Arab’s attacking football alongside Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Gauld and other winning diddy candidate, Nadir Ciftci. His time at Celtic has been disappointing. Failing to make the wing slot his own under Ronny Deila, many hoped Brendan Rodgers’ work with Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest could also turn his form around. His toiling performance against relegation threatened St Mirren highlighting his inability to step it up a level. The introduction of Paddy Roberts in the second half turned the game, and may ultimately spell the end for GMS at Celtic.
Where to start with Scott Allan? Signed from under the noses of Rangers after a resurgence at Hibs in 2014/15, Allan made 17 appearances for Celtic over the course of the season, contributing very little aside from the early season opportunity to giggle at Rangers. Allan went from star man in Leith to ‘the game’s done, let’s give the kid a run out’ with Celtic in the space of 12 months. Last seen front and centre of all of the trophy presentation photos, before being punted to relegated Rotherham this year.
I’d genuinely forgotten about his existence until he’d turned up on FourFourTwo’s ‘worst signing ever’ category for Aston Villa. Bearing in mind they had a latter day Alan Hutton in their team, this seemed quite the claim. A player championed by Celtic legend Stan Petrov, who offered nothing like the same level of quality. His main contribution as a Celtic player was a seven-match ban for “using abusive language of a racist nature” towards Shay Logan. Then again, it might’ve been the wind that said it.
Signed from Ajax on a four year deal, allegedly blessed with great pace and aggressive running, Derk was signed at the same time as Virgil van Dijk. They’ve both got Ds in their name and they’re both Dutch. That’s pretty much where the comparisons end. Derk hasn’t been seen in the league (or anywhere, really) since chucking himself to the ground in the vague vicinity of St Johnstone’s Dave Mackay to win a penalty. One goal in three seasons was a horrendous return, which saw him paid off.
Zaluska outlasted various goalkeepers at Parkhead, not through quality, of course, but by presumably having a strong will to get his mortgage paid. 2012/13 saw the permanent arrival of the giant Fraser Forster at Parkhead, which is probably just as well, as Zaluska’s matchstick wrists saw Celtic dumped out of the League Cup against St Mirren. I’ll be honest, I really wanted to stick Joe Chalmers in here but three appearances seemed a bit rough.
If this list has taught us anything, it’s that Celtic legends know absolutely nothing about signing players. Bangura was recommended to Celtic by Henrik Larsson, after a productive period alongside his namesake, Teteh Bangura. This confusion of two Bangura’s did lead to the somewhat fantastic suggestion that Celtic had accidentally signed the wrong one, but the development of Teteh’s career suggests that he’d have been equally pish. A fruitless fifteen games saw him packed off back to Sweden.
The former England centre-forward (really, it definitely happened) turfed up at Ibrox after falling out of favour at Stoke. The clubs first permanent signing in two years for over a million of the Queen’s pounds, a two-year contract (with an additional third!) for a 32-year-old, without many goals, seems in hindsight, unwise. 19 appearances, no goals, and presumably the first contract burned in the Great Craig Whyte Shredding.
While Beattie was the first permanent signing, Rothen was the only signing in 2009/10. With great pedigree comes great responsibility, and Rothen took absolutely none of it. A terrific performance against Stuttgart in the Champions League had Rangers fans raving of his ability, but sadly little more of this was seen. A Champions League finalist with Monaco, ex-team-mate Dado Prso went on a charm offensive, claiming he would “adapt very well”. Sadly, being left footed and stuck on the right wing wasn’t part of Rothen’s development.
Charlie Adam wasn’t always banging in goals from the half-way line and attempting murder on Gareth Bale every time he plays him. Adam’s time at Rangers is a difficult one to judge, having played and scored for Rangers in Europe, an Old Firm goal, and won a young player of the year award (apparently he was young once), but never really seemed at home in Walter Smith’s side. Unloved, a £500k move to Blackpool proved the making of him.
Ah Derek, where did it all go wrong?
Here, here is where it went wrong. One goal between the opening day and January was a paltry return for such a talented footballer. Obviously, things have deteriorated significantly for one of Drylaw’s favourite sons, but his head to head with Gordon Strachan could be noted as the turning point. Rumblings had been made throughout the season of his discontent, but his ‘Celtic Hell’ was laid bare in the papers as the season wound down. “It is frustrating. I was left out the squad (against Motherwell yesterday) and was training with the reserves on Friday. I’ve virtually chucked it at Celtic, what’s the point when I’m not getting a chance.”
Where did it go wrong? Probably when you chucked it, Deeks.
BONUS WINNER! I’d tried to keep to a minimum of five appearances for each of the above, but really, it just seems worth reminding you, dear reader, that Mo Camara was a Celtic player.
So, as it turns out, they do shrink for inferior players. Are these the worst? Can you make a case for them, or have I missed someone even worse? Let us know.
Written by Graeme Thewliss