I’ve had to leave out some great players for this ultimate Celtic XI. I really appreciate everyone – or nearly everyone – that I managed and could definitely have a made another XI of all the players who missed out from my teams.
For this one, I’ve had to leave out Stiliyan Petrov, but he could have easily slotted into this team.
I’d also like to point out that the entire back four here cost Celtic a total of £700,000. Not bad, eh.
Goalkeeper: Artur Boruc
He had a great presence and was a terrific athlete. Honestly, he could’ve been the world’s number one – but he enjoyed life too much.
Right back: Mark Wilson
But for injury, I thought he could’ve been Scotland’s regular right-back for a long, long time. He got forward, crossed the ball, and didn’t dismiss possession – he gave everyone a good pass.
Left back: Paul Telfer
I have to mention Lee Naylor here, who was also in my thinking. I had Paul at a few clubs and, no matter where I took him, he was always a man who set standards for training. He could play any position for you and do a job.
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Centre back: Gary Caldwell
Signed for nothing from Hibs. People were scratching their heads and asking why we bought him – truth is, I’d asked John Hartson who the hardest centre back in the league was. When we signed him, football was changing, and Gary was one of the first real ball-playing centre backs.
Centre back: Stephen McManus
A great captain. He had limitations but he did terrific for Celtic, and got to his maximum as a player on and of the pitch.
Centre midfield: Neil Lennon
Lenny did so much for me both on and off the pitch. When I started at Celtic, I very quickly realised that other people at the club had pre-conceived ideas of what I was – but Neil was open-minded to what I was trying to bring, and the problems I faced. On the pitch, no matter what chaos surrounded his private life, he was always fantastic.
Centre midfield: Scott Brown
He wasn’t at his best when he first got to Celtic, for various different reasons. Which shows why we shouldn’t judge players too quickly. Now he’s up there with Billy McNeil in Celtic folklore, and that’s as good as you get. He’s one of Celtic’s most influential players of all time – and has driven the team on for ten years.
Right wing: Shunsuke Nakamura
A genius. His touch was as good as anything I’ve seen in football. He spoke very little English, but you only needed to say something to him once and he’d get it. He was always at least three moves ahead of anyone else on the pitch.
Attacking midfield: Aiden McGeady
Could play anywhere in attack. I remember playing him up top in a League Cup final against Rangers. We won 2-0 and he was terrific. He’s got incredible ability and worked so hard.
Jesus, we had a lot of arguments, a couple of rascals, but I kept playing him cos I’m not daft. He had incredible ability to beat people and, on his day, can look really terrific, as you’ll have seen in Sunderland ‘Til I Die.
Left wing: Shaun Maloney
He could play anywhere, Shaun. Brave on the ball, but also a good defender. Just a real good lad, as well.
Centre forward: Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink
The boys used to joke with him that he definitely wasn’t Dutch because he had a sense of humour. He was great about the place. But he was just everything you wanted as a teammate, so unselfish – for a midfielder making runs, he was brilliant at spotting their runs and laying it off. And he scored a lot of really important goals, at the right time.
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