For a description of exactly what this series is about and how the idea was formed then be sure to read the open letter at the top of our opening blog. For the rest we’ll summarise: we’ve asked a blogger from every team in the Scottish top flight to recall their favourite goal from every season since 1998. That time until the present day has been a fruitful period for one half of the Glasgow giants, and it’s no surprise that Paul Dunn’s recollections from Celtic Park’s finest have included league winning strikes, cup final goals and famous European moments.
I can only imagine that this is how a doting mother or father would feel if they were asked to choose who their favourite child was out of the 16 that they had. Well, maybe not. That didn’t even make any sense, but it has been tough trying to choose my favourite Celtic goal of the season for every season since the 1998-99 season. Some of my choices are probably not going to be everyone’s top picks, but that’s the point eh? Going for something a bit different? Alternative, so to speak. There’s been a lot of cracking goals that I’ve had to leave out that deserve a special mention before I charge on. Koki Mizuno’s late winner versus Falkirk at Falkirk Stadium, Paul Telfer’s thunderous strike that ricocheted in off the post at Pittodrie against Aberdeen and Badr El Kaddouri’s venomous long range lightning effort against Rangers at Ibrox. All belters that just didn’t make it and now that my adjectives are warmed up, let’s crack on with it.
1998/99 – Lubomir Moravcik v Rangers (5-1 win)
The first season of the SPL was also the first and last season Dr Jozef Venglos was the manager at Parkhead. Dr Jo signed an unknown magician by the name of Lubomir Moravcik weeks before his first Old Firm game in charge of Celtic Football Club. Lubo’s first (and definitely not last) goal was against Rangers on that first Old Firm game of the season where the Celts pounded Rangers 5-1. Simon Donnelly had the ball slightly out wide and on the counter attack just inside the Rangers half, he cut the ball inside to Larsson who let it run through his legs, the dummy made its way to Lubo just outside the 18 yard box, who hit it with his left foot as it’s still coming across him (oh matron). Anti Niemi dives to the bottom right, but there’s no chance, back of the net. A star is born! Well he was 33 but you know what I mean. He scored two goals that day and entertained thousands week-in-week-out for the next four years. Imagine what he would have been like if he’d arrived 10 years earlier.
1999/00 – Ian Wright v Aberdeen (0-6 win)
The following season saw a legendary rapper take control at Parkhead. MC John Barnes was drafted in after Dr Dre… I mean Dr Jozef Venglos couldn’t handle the beef and left. Barnes not only brought a lyrical flow to the dressing room but utter Schedit as well. To be fair, that season started off OK, it only started going downhill when Larsson broke his leg, Super Cally then went balastic and Rangers won the league. The only good thing I seem to remember from that year (excluding the league cup win) was that everytime Celtic played Aberdeen, they gave them a right scudding: 7-0, 6-0, 5-0, 5-1. So for this season, I’m going with Ian Wright’s goal at Pittodrie in the 6-0 game. Mainly because his celebration was a bit nuts (diving header sideways into the ground) and it was on my 13th birthday. MC Barnes didn’t last long, in fact he didn’t even last a full season. Kenny Dalglish took control towards the end to see out the misery. I thought a man of his calibre (Barnes) would have been able to handle the pressure of being a manger of an Old Firm club. After all, it was just another East Coast/West Coast thang. Not to worry, good times ahead yo’.
LINK – http://youtu.be/EByZ39tJTLk?t=8m41s
2000/01 – Henrik Larsson v Rangers (6-2 win)
I didn’t know who Martin O’Neill was when he arrived at Celtic Park. I was only young and when I saw him and I didn’t think he was going to amount to much. I mean I had just saw footballing legends John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish fail so miserably the season before. Of course I was wrong and in Martin O’Neill’s first Old Firm match the Hoops ran away with what is now known as “The Demolition Derby”. Or so the DVD says. It’ll be no surprise that I’m going with Henrik Larsson’s iconic (yes it is iconic) chip over Klos in that game. Chris Sutton knocks the ball down to Larsson (it won’t be the last time you hear that) who picks it up about 20 yards inside the Rangers half. He’s charging towards the last defender, Bert Konterman, who doesn’t know whether to walk backwards, run forwards, slide to the side or stand still and it eventually looks like he’s doing a dodgy version of “The Slosh”. So while Bert is busy trying to remember if he has to clap his thigh, heel or hands, Henrik neatly slides it through his legs to go one-on-one with the goalie and then subtly dinks it over Klos. The arms go wide, the tongue comes out, the fans go nuts. 6-2 the game finished. The O’Neill era begins with the treble.
2001/02 – Stiliyan Petrov v Dundee (0-3 win)
After O’Neill’s first season being one of the greatest seasons in Celtic’s history (I still have the O’Neill 2001 Treble t-shirt) it was an amazing time to be a Celtic fan. The momentum the team had from the previous season carried on into the 01/02 SPL. Big Bobo Balde and Big Bad John Hartson were signed and Celtic dominated the league again.
During the run, Stan Petrov scored a proverbial “peach” in a match at Dens. A free kick from about 35 yards. Larsson stood over the ball and it looked like he was going to cross it. Henke then rolled the ball across field and Petrov came charging out of nowhere looking to blooter the leather off it. The Dundee players rushed out as fast they could from the wall, a young Jamie Langfield (who at the time looked like a stereotypical juvenile delinquent) didn’t move. It went that fast that it was almost an illusion, Copperfield-esque. It’s not until you see the replay from a differnt angle, i.e behind the goal, that you notice that the ball bent from left to right, Roberto Carlos-esque, into the top corner of young offender’s left hand post. An absolute screamer. It was Petrov’s first game back from a relatively lengthy injury too and Celtic went on to retain the SPL championship title. The good times looked like they were never going to end.
LINK – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvbI3A8CR3M
2002/03 – Henrik Larsson v Dundee (6-2 win)
“The Seville Season” as a lot of Celtic fans remember it as. The SPL title went down to the last day and Celtic reached the final of the UEFA Cup. It was a nail biting, nerve shattering season. With two games remaining the “Bhoys From Seville” had the chance to walk away with the two previously mentioned titles. It was the first time a Scottish club had reached a European final in 16 years and in the SPL O’Neill had the chance to cement his place in history by becoming only the third manager (the first being Willie Maley, the second being Jock Stein) to achieve “Three In A Row”. It was not to be though. The Hoops took Porto to the wire in the Uefa Cup Final but eventually lost out in extra time and the league championship was lost on goal difference to Rangers.
The second last game of the season and the last game at Celtic Park that year was against Dundee where the Hoops won 6-2. Larsson scored yet another delightful goal in that game which I’m choosing as my favourite goal for that year. He picked the ball out of thin air with the tip of his boot, rounds the keeper then lifts it up into the roof of the net. There may have been better goals that season but giving that this game was just before the Uefa Cup Final and that Martin O’Neill came out onto the pitch at full time to thank the fans and give a motivational speech, it gets my approval. What a brilliantly heartbreaking season, all that and no silverware to show for it.
LINK – http://youtu.be/fuBrAU9adRY?t=1m9s
2003/04 – Chris Sutton v Rangers (1-0 win)
In O’Neill’s fourth season in charge Celtic turned it up a notch. The Hoops ran away with the SPL title and in doing so set a new club record for the most number of goals scored in a whole season – 105. Amongst those was Chris Sutton netting one of the greatest Old Firm goals of all time with a 92nd minute chip over Rangers goal keeper Klos (sound familiar?) to win the game 1-0. The ball came over the top and Sutton heads it down to Larsson (I told you it wasn’t the last time you were going to hear that) who played the one-two back to Sutton who then shrugged off one of the De Boers and clipped it over the German goalie from just outside the box. Outstanding, and as Archie Macpherson said “I doubt very much that a golfer could have had such an immaculate chip with a wedge”. That goal completed the white wash of six consecutive wins against Rangers – it reached seven before finishes – as the good times continued and O’Neill’s Celtic seemed unstoppable.
LINK – http://youtu.be/iS-EmtSLCms?t=1m27s
2004/05 – Craig Bellamy v Dundee United (2-3 win)
Celtic signed Bellamy on loan half way through the campaign. He had quite the reputation about him and even though he only played 12 games (scoring seven) the short spell still left quite the impression. He promised in a press conference to score against Rangers and he did, he also single-handedly tore apart Dundee United, scoring a hat-trick in the process. It’s the second goal in that game which finished 3-2 to the Celts that I’m choosing. Dundee United were up for it that game. They looked good and some of the Celtic players were a bit subdued in their performance. Bellamy, however, was in fine form. After already scoring one cracker, a through ball then came from Ulrik Laursen just outside the centre circle in the opponents half and Bellamy was sent darting across from the left to the right hand side. With the pace still on the ball and with one deft touch, Bellamy changed its’ direction and sent it into the top right hand corner. A truly world class performance by the Welshman. The SPL championship went down to yet another last game of the season title decider, which didn’t fall in favour of Celtic. Future Celt Scott McDonald ruined the title dreams at Fir park in the dying minutes with two goals for Motherwell. The Martin O’Neill era ended after he decided to take a rest from football to take care of his wife Geraldine who had lymphoma. He remains a hero in the eyes of the fans.
LINK – http://youtu.be/p_2betk_RIc?t=2m25s
2005/06 – Neil Lennon v Dunfermline (1-8 win)
Gordon Strachan came in as the new manager of Celtic and what a task he had giving the achievements of Martin O’Neill. Strachan let alot of players go and brought in some brand new quality like Du Wei and Adam Virgo… well at least he brought in Shunsuke Nakamura. He also introduced a new style of football that was completely different from what O’Neill had developed for his side in the previous five years. Case in point, Neil Lennon had also been there for five years and hadn’t scored for the Hoops since December 2001. Back then Lennon’s hair was luminous and his waist-line slimer. So when he scored in the thrashing of Dunfermline 8-1 in the 05/06 season it was something rather special. Shaun Maloney had already netted a stunning bicycle kick from 18 yards and Maciej Zurawski bagged a cracking handfull as well, but none of these compared to Lennons wonder strike from 20 yards into the keeper’s bottom right hand corner. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating it a little bit but c’mon it’s a Neil Lennon goal! That’s rarer than the aurora borealis. Strachan’s first season ended well as the Celts regained the SPL title. New European adventures were just around the corner also.
LINK – http://youtu.be/e_zSZZIkmTQ?t=3m57s
2006/07 – Shunsuke Nakamura v Kilmarnock (1-2 win)
Strachan’s second year at Celtic Park was one of my favourite seasons. Once again Gordon brought in some quality with the likes of Jiri Jarosik and Jean-Joel Perrier-Doumbe… We also said goodbye to legends Petrov and Hartson. Despite this the Hoops secured the SPL and Scottish Cup double (yer man Doumbe scored the only goal in the final of the Scottish) and for the first time since it began the Hoops made it into the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League before losing out to AC Milan in extra-time of the last 16.
It’s getting tricky to choose individual goals now since we’re in the Nakamura era. Watching all Naka’s goals is like watching a Sky Sports “Top 50 Goals Of All Time” type show. I am, however, going to choose his 91st minute free kick against Kilmarnock that won the league for the Bhoys that year. A free kick, 25 yards out, in the last minute and Naka steps up to win the league. How often does that happen? Naka bent it around the wall and homed the ball into the Killie keeper’s bottom right hand corner. “We’ve won the league again, fly the flag!”
2007/08 – Shunsuke Nakamura v Rangers (2-1 win)
Going into the campaign people were wondering if Strachan’s Celtic could do what O’Neill’s side couldn’t and secure three successive titles. It wasn’t as easy but they did it in the end, while also making the knockout stages of the Champions League once more. Rangers did seem comfortable for most of the season but Celtic started scraping back points and eventually won it in a last game decider against Dundee United.
Like I said previously, it’s hard choosing goals of the season when you have Shunuske Nakamura in your team. Naka did have his critics when it came to Old Firm games and I do admit that he was never the best performer on those occasions. That all changed when on the 16th of April 2008. Rangers were four points ahead at the time in the championship race but Hoops took the points with a 2-1 win, thanks also in a large part to Jimmy Vinegar Of Hesselink’s last minute winner. Naka’s goal bent like… I don’t even know what. It was about 35 yards out and it went from right to left and up and down and swerved and dipped and ended up in the middle of the goal with the Rangers goalie Alan McGregor diving away from it. I don’t know. We’re going to have to get scientists into explain that one. It defied the laws of gravity anyway, I’m sure of it.
LINK – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCykELLUCN8
2008/09 – Scott McDonald v Rangers (0-1 win)
Strachan’s fourth and what ultimately turned out to be his final season saw the Hoops finally falling to Rangers in the league championship. There were some good times as we managed to defeat Rangers in the League Cup Final 2-0. The goals coming from Irish internationalists Aidan McGeady and Darren O’Dea in extra time. Scott McDonald also scored against Rangers in a 1-0 win at Ibrox with a stunning volley that if I watch on YouTube without my specs on I can’t tell if it’s real or if it’s a game of FIFA. Gary Caldwell launched a long ball that Samaras headed backwards, McDonald took it on the chest then let it drop on the knee it then bounced on the deck just once before spinning and volleying it into the opposite top corner from just inside the box. Outstanding effort from the wee Australian.
LINK – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZTiaNik4Yc
2009/10 – Paddy McCourt v St Mirren (1-2 win)
In the 09/10 season Celtic appointed ex player and the man attributed to creating “The Celtic Huddle” as manager, Tony Mowbray. Much like the John Barnes’s season, Tony didn’t last long in Parkhead. He was sacked 30 games in after some terrible results and Neil Lennon took over as caretaker. There would be no rewards for such a poor season though there were some flashes of brilliance along the way, particularly from the likes of Robbie Keane, Ki Sung Yeung and Paddy McCourt.
Patrick James McCourt, now there’s a player. McCourt looks like a cross between Kurt Russell and Kurt Cobain and when he runs with the ball you would think it was glued to his feet. Celtic were away to St Mirren on the 26th of Septmeber 2009 and dressed to impress in the new and improved “Bumblebee” strip, McCourt scored a sublime solo effort in a match which finished 2-1 to the Bhoys. He picked it up just inside the Buddies half, dribbled by one, then two, then three and he starts bobing and weaving like Muhammed Ali did in “The Rumble In The Jungle”, skipping by four and five to eventually send it into the keeper’s right hand corner. Terrific as usual from “The Derry Pele”. If Paddy’s legs could ever last 90 minutes I’m sure he would have been much bigger than the cult icon status he achieved.
LINK – http://youtu.be/JbXrewKoUUg?t=19s
2010/11 – Ki Sung Yeung v Motherwell (3-0 win; Scottish Cup Final)
After Neil Lennon impressed as caretaker manager at the end of the previous season, he was appointed the position full time going into 2010-11. Lennon said that he wanted to “bring the thunder back” to Celtic Park. He most certainly achieved this and with the help of Depeche Mode’s “I Just Can’t Get Enough” the stadium was rocking once again. He also brought in some amazing signings: Gary Hooper, Emilio Izaguirre, Joe Ledley and Charlie Mulgrew. Although Celtic eventually lost the league to Rangers for the third year in a row, there was a lot to take away from this season. Samaras scored both goals in a terrific display and 2-0 win at Ibrox, while Scott Brown scored a left footed 20 yard effort at Ibrox also before rubbing it into El Hadj Diouf with “The Broony” in a Scottish Cup fifth round tie. I am, however, going to choose Ki Sung Yeung’s opener in the 3-0 win against Motherwell in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden. Ki picks it up about 30 yards from the Motherwell goal, gives it one touch forward with the right foot and then hammers it with the left into the keeper’s right hand side. It went like a bullet, the goalie had no chance, and the Scottish Cup made it’s way back to Paradise after a four year absence.
2011/12 – Charlie Mulgrew v Rangers (3-0 win)
After the last game of the SPL in the 11/12 season Neil Lennon came out onto the pitch at Parkhead to talk to the fans. With a microphone in his hand an emotional Lennon said “this is not the end, it’s just the beginning”. He wasn’t wrong. His second season in charge of the Hoops saw the Bhoys claw back a 15 point deficit just before New Year to go top of the table. Talking of deficits, Rangers filed for administration on Valentines day that year as they didn’t have two pennies to rub together and they owed out a fortune. I’ll not go into that too much though, you would need a financial law degree to get your head round about that carry on.
The last Old Firm match of the season was played on April 29th 2012 at Celtic Park. By then Celtic had the league sewn up and after nearly four long years the SPL title was back in Paradise. This last Glasgow Derby was the icing on the cake (or the nail in the coffin, if you prefer) as the Hoops ran away with an easy 3-0 win. Charlie Mulgrew scored the first goal in that game and it’s the only headed goal I have picked in my full selection. Celtic get a corner, Kris Commons whips it in with the left and Mulgrew comes bursting into the box, dives at the ball with his nogging and after it takes one bounce it ends up in the back of the net. Neil Lennon’s first league trophy win as manager. The celebrations begin.
LINK – http://youtu.be/aWzlAhNLNSg?t=1m20s
2012/13 – Tony Watt v Barcelona (2-1 win)
The last year the league championship was called the ‘SPL’. Lennon’s Celts did go on to win the league comfortably but what stood out most was the Bhoys European Champions League efforts. Ten years after “The Seville Bhoys” times had changed. Celtic can no longer compete with the big spenders in Europe… or so we thought. The highlight of the year was a home win against one of the greatest teams of all time in the group stages: Barcelona. The stadium was bouncing, the pre-match display for the Hoops 125th Birthday was phenomenal and an 18 year old by the name of Tony Watt netted to win the match. That’s the stuff dreams are made of. Forster punts the ball from one end to the other, Xavi makes a rare mistake and Watt latches onto it from about 25 yards out, he sprints forward into the box and slots it past the keeper. Unbelievable! 60 thousand inside Celtic Park go mental and a lot, lot more watching it in pubs and homes around the world do so also.
2013/14 – Virgil van Dijk v St Johnstone
This now brings me onto the most recent season. Neil Lennon joins the likes of Strachan, Stein and Maley as he becomes only the fourth Celtic manager in history to win the league three years on the trot. It was won rather easily (the earliest it had been won since the 1928-29 season). Before the outset, Lennon brought in a Dutch defender at the start of the season called Virgil Van Dijk. He has a name that sounds like something from a Disney film and he looks like forgotten Grammy award winning musician Terence Trent D’Arby, but he sure can play. On Boxing Day, Celtic played St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park and won 1-0. Virgil picked the ball up close to the centre circle and looked up as defenders do, for the pass. He then decides to go with it himself and bursts into the Saints’ half with pace, passing two players then another two as he gets to the edge of the box, where he stabs it into the keepers bottom right hand corner. Nobody got near him! I have a feeling other clubs will be looking to buy Virgil as he seems like the real deal, but i hope that he does as what Terence Trent D’Arby did and comes out and says “If You Let Me Stay”… but if an offer does come in and the money is right, I would only “Wishing Well”.
LINK – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9qEiOKSgWU
So there you have it. My picks for every season since the 1998/99 season. I’m sure a lot of people would choose other goals or argue this and that. I suppose that’s one thing that makes football so special, but I’ve had a good laugh writing this and if you are reading it then I hope you’re not too young to remember John Barnes rapping, Kurt Russell, Kurt Cobain, ” The Rumble In The Jungle ” and Terence Trent D’arby. As I write this section Neil Lennon has left his managerial role at Celtic and we’re in a period where we are now waiting on a new manager. No matter who that manager turns out to be one thing will be certain. Celtic will continue to entertain on the park and do the fans proud like they always have.
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