Joe Ledley: Playing in Foundation Charity Match will bring back special Paradise memories

There is a famous Jock Stein quote from when he spoke at a Celtic supporters’ night back in 1955.

He was still a player at the time and he told fans, ‘Unlike many other Celts, I cannot claim that Celtic was my first love… but I can say that it will be my last love.’

That proved very much to be the case, and he went on to become a legendary figure in Celtic’s history during an incredible 13-year period as Celtic manager.

While Joe Ledley might not have his sights set on achieving similar status as a Hoops boss in the future, Jock Stein’s sentiments of how Celtic becomes more than a club for anyone who becomes part of it, be that as player or manager, certainly rings true in the Welshman’s case.

Ledley joined Celtic from Cardiff City back in 2010, and over the next four years he would make 157 appearances, scoring 30 goals.

He also won three league titles along with a Scottish Cup triumph in 2013.

More than that, however, he too fell in love with the club, and that has never left him, even 10 years after he moved on to Crystal Palace.

Now the former Celtic midfielder is returning to Paradise and will pull on the green and white Hoops again on Sunday, May 26 as part of a Celtic Legends team which will take on Borussia Dortmund in the Celtic FC Foundation’s charity match.


“I can’t wait,” Ledley said. “I’ve actually been once or twice to watch a game and I took my kids on a tour there as well, but to finally come back and play will be an absolute honour.

“I’ve always said since I came back down south and told people the memories I have – it’s the best stadium and the best crowd I’ve ever witnessed and I’ve ever played for.

‘I’m sure there will be plenty of memories which will come flooding back to me and it’ll be quite emotional as well, going back and putting the jersey on again.’

“ It’s been such a long time but we’ve had some great memories in the past and it’s a fantastic honour to represent Celtic again and play in the stadium, see the fans and see, not just former players and team-mates, but also people inside the stadium behind the scenes – to see them again will be great.

“My boy is seven and he’s a Celtic fan. I’ve bred him into supporting Celtic. He’s never seen me play football, so for him to come up and see me play and hopefully put in a performance will be a fantastic honour.

“My eldest one was born in Glasgow, so for her to come back up and see where she was born is special. We have fantastic memories and I’m looking forward to it.”

Joe Ledley in action against Barcelona

Like every other player who has worn the Hoops, Joe Ledley has found himself meeting Celtic fans wherever he goes, whether that’s on the school run in Cardiff or on holiday.

There is an instant connection, and the Welshman, who represented his country with distinction on 77 occasions, is delighted to look back on some great moments in his career and in Celtic’s history.

“The main one is obviously when I scored the header against Rangers,” he said, “and then the Barcelona game in the Champions League is one they always reminisce and talk about.

‘The Barcelona game was just one of those game that I don’t think anybody could believe it, especially the team they had – Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, and it was just one of those nights where it was unbelievable.’

“The atmosphere was just rocking and you couldn’t hear anyone speak. When that whistle went you just couldn’t believe it.

“When you’re playing, you’re always concentrating on the next game and playing week in, week out.

“But when you retire that’s when you think about what you’ve achieved, playing in the Champions League, winning leagues, winning trophies, playing against the best players in the world – you pinch yourself and realise how lucky you are as a person and as a player as well.

“And that’s the reason why I came to Celtic – to play in the Champions League and test myself, and win trophies, and I’m so glad it was the right decision and everything worked out the way it did. So I’m very grateful to have got the opportunity to play for Celtic.”

Joe Ledley is looking forward to Celtic FC Foundation’s Legends Charity Match at Paradise on Sunday, May 26 (KO: 2pm), and the Welshman is sure to get the warmest of welcomes from supporters on the day.

He’s delighted to be coming back to one of his favourite places in football, but he’s also aware of the real reason for the game and why it’s so important for fans to come out on the day.

“I’ve done a few things for the Foundation now,” he said, “and it’s a great cause for me to come back, and for the Foundation to want me and to invite me there is great as well.

‘So I’m looking forward to it. I’ve spoken to a few of the former players and they’re excited. It is a great honour for us, as former players, to come back and represent Celtic again.’

“It’s going to be a fantastic game and we’ve got some great players coming back, and Borussia Dortmund are a big team and it’s a great charity to raise money for as well.

“So hopefully we can get as many fans in and hopefully get the result and put the performance in as well!”


The Legends Charity Match promises to be a fantastic occasion for all the family and tickets are on general sale now, priced at:

  • Adults – £15
  • Concessions – £7



A range of Matchday Hospitality packages are available for the Legends Charity Match at Celtic Park, starting at just £30 per person.

You can register your interest in these packages here or check regularly for the latest updates.


Funds raised through the match will focus on feeding people in need of support, to reflect the heritage of the club and respond to the current cost of living crisis, which is overwhelming so many families and individuals.

This will include continuation and development of Celtic FC Foundation’s Paradise Pit Stop project at Celtic Park. In addition, we will look to secure new locations for food provision with local partners in Inverclyde and Lanarkshire, plus London and Ireland to complement our current delivery of key projects in those areas.

With Scott Brown set to captain the side, we’re delighted to confirm that a donation will also be made to Dundee Cancer Centre at Ninewells Hospital, in memory of his sister Fiona, who sadly passed away in 2008 aged just 21