MARK Burchill burst on to the scene as a talented teenager with a knack for scoring on the big occasion, and he is hoping to rekindle that spark for the upcoming Jock Stein 30th Anniversary Charity Match – sponsored by Direct Slating Supplies – in early September.
The ex-Celtic and Dunfermline striker spoke to the official Celtic website and looked back at his time at both clubs and his excitement for the match at East End Park.
Breaking into the first team at the start of the 1998/99 season, Burchill enjoyed a memorable spell at Celtic Park including scoring against Rangers and in Europe.
He said: “Celtic and Dunfermline are really the two clubs where I spent the best years of my career.
“As a Celtic fan, breaking into the first team and playing for your club was an incredible feeling. I was lucky enough to play with the likes of Henrik Larsson and Lubo Moravcik.
“I’ll never forget my goal in the 5-1 game against Rangers and I still hold the quickest hat-trick in European football.
“After returning from down south, I went to Dunfermline and twice I was their top scorer. I managed to score 16 goals in a league season and helped them to avoid relegation. I loved my time at both clubs.”
As a former player of Celtic and Dunfermline, Burchill was in high demand to play for both sides but he insisted the timeliness of Celtic’s request proved to be the clincher.
He said: “I’m definitely looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces again. Dunfermline also approached me to play for them – but Celtic asked first and I’m a man of my word.
“I’ll probably know most of the players on the park and it’ll be great to see everyone.”
A participant in last year’s Maestrio match, Burchill is well accustomed to these types of encounters and highlighted the importance of showcasing the talents of retired players.
He said: “It’s great to see all the old players coming back and judging their ability after all these years.
“It’s brilliant to see the guys who have still got it. They might not be able to run about as much but you can tell that their talent is still near the top level. It’s also good for the fans to see their heroes from the past.”
Burchill is currently enjoying managerial life in the dugout as well as on the pitch as the current head coach/player at Scottish Championship side, Livingston.
His move into coaching has given him an insight into the pressures of being in the managerial hot seat and Burchill was eager to point out why Jock Stein should be lauded as one of the greatest figures in football history.
He said: “Jock Stein is probably the greatest manager that Celtic has produced. It’s incredible what he achieved with a team virtually all born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park.
“Words alone can’t really cover just how influential he was and as a manager myself, you look up to the best and I’m delighted that I’m able to honour Jock Stein.”
Celtic Legends’ Squad So Far
The Jock Stein 30th Anniversary Charity Match takes place on Sunday, September 6 at East End Park (KO 2pm).
Tickets for the match, priced at £12 for adults and £6 for concessions, are available ONLINE, by calling 0871 226 1888* or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office.
Matchday Hospitality is available, on a first come, first served basis, in the Purvis Suite at a cost of £45 per person, or supporters can upgrade to a pitch-side box for an additional price of £100 per person.
Proceeds from the day will be shared between Celtic FC Foundation and the Pars Foundation, the respective charitable arms of both clubs
*Calls cost 13 pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. For customer enquiries relating to existing purchases only, please call 0141 230 1967. Calls charged at standard rate.