Yesterday, we chose the first of our centre-back pairing and you can’t have one without the other, so let’s take a look at some more centre-backs as we continue to piece together our Celtic Cult Hero XI.
Today’s selections range from academy prodigies to superstar loan deals as we complete the heart of the defence, so here we go with day 2 of the ASCOM team’s picks for Celtic’s Cult Hero centre-back. Which players have we missed out? Let us know!
Player – Darren O’Dea
Signed From – Youth Academy (2005)
Appearances – 70 appearances – 6 goals
Cult Hero Status – A player with a list of clubs spanning three continents, including Toronto FC, Metalurh Donetsk and Mumbai City, it’s safe to say Darren O’Dea’s career has been, to say the least, interesting.
Having come through the youth academy at Celtic, the Irishman made his debut in the League Cup against St Mirren back in 2006 before going on to make another 69 appearances and even captaining the side on a few occasions. A solid centre-back with strong Irish heritage, the Celtic support took to O’Dea well, despite the obvious limited amount of talent.
The moment which etched O’Dea into a Celtic cult hero was the 2009 Scottish League Cup final. With the score tied at 0-0 as the game stumbled into extra time, O’Dea rose above the Rangers defence to open the scoring at Hampden as the Bhoys went on to lift the trophy after Aiden McGeady’s last-minute penalty. The adulation in the stands and joy on O’Dea’s face was clear to see and for this he is forever a Celtic cult hero.
Player – Ramon Vega
Signed From – Tottenham Hotspur (Loan – 2000)
Appearances – 26 appearances – 4 goals
Cult Hero Status – Where do we start with Ramon Vega? Speak to 100 different Celtic fans and they will give you a variety of opinions on his short Celtic career.
Vega was a pre-season target for O’Neill and in December of the same year, he eventually got his man. Out of favour at Spurs, he found himself within the heart of the Celtic defence as the Bhoys worked towards the treble, scoring twice on his debut against Aberdeen and then again not long after against Dunfermline.
A clearly talented player, his lack of commitment towards Celtic ended up with his stay being relatively short but he left the club with League, League Cup and Scottish Cup winners’ medals and a place in history as part of O’Neill’s treble-winning side. A solid defender who could have become a legend at the club.
Paul John Dykes
Player – Johannes Edvaldsson
Signed From – Holbaek B&I (Free – 1975)
Appearances – 188 appearances – 36 goals
Cult Hero Status – Signed in August 1975 after a brief but successful trial, Johannes Edvaldsson was one of Celtic’s earliest and most successful European imports. His versatility was to prove a major asset for the Hoops and, although often played in the centre of defence, the man nicknamed ‘Shuggie’ by the Bhoys support played in virtually every outfield position for Celtic.
Shuggie was played consistently in central defence (developing a good partnership with Roddy MacDonald) and became ‘one of the ten men’ heroes in May 1979 when Celtic beat Rangers 4-2 to take the title on a never-to-be-forgotten summer’s night. Edvaldsson’s strength and commitment was part of the reason that Celtic came storming through in that game.
Shuggie often seemed to save his best performance for the blood and thunder of the Rangers games and had a happy knack of scoring in them. Edvaldsson left Celtic in 1980 to sign for the Tulsa Roughnecks but returned to Glasgow years later reportedly running a pub in Bridgeton. A real fans’ favourite and certainly a cult hero.
Player – Daniel Majstorović
Signed From – AEK Athens (Free – 2010)
Appearances – 65 appearances – 2 goals
Cult Hero Status – Signing for Celtic aged 33, the big 6’4” Majstorovic was brought to Parkhead by boss Neil Lennon to bring much-needed steel and composure to a Celtic backline on a free transfer from cash strapped AEK Athens.
Initial signs were good and, with injuries to the usual candidates, Big Dan was handed the captaincy for a few games in the 2010-11 season. In the following months, his performances began to improve as he formed a solid partnership with young centre-back Thomas Ronge and also with Charlie Mulgrew.
By the beginning of March, Celtic had the best defensive record in the SPL and this partnership helped to contribute to a 17 game unbeaten run in all competitions. A daunting figure for strikers he will be looked back upon as a player with limited ability but left everything on the park, including the strikers he faced!
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