SOME testimonials are highly convincing. Celtic travelled to Old Trafford 16 years ago and did Ryan Giggs the honour of playing seriously in his benefit match, winning 4-3 and thrilling the sell-out crowd.
But there was another testimonial on that night, played out after the final whistle, as Jackie McNamara explained: “One of our players asked Eric Cantona for his strip but he said, ‘No, I want Moravcik’s’. That’s how highly Lubo was regarded by those who played against him.”
The story comes back into the mind of McNamara, now Chief Executive Officer at York City, as he summons memories of his time with the captains of the Henrik’s Heroes and Lubo’s Legends match who will grace Paradise in an occasion to raise funds for Celtic FC Foundation on Sunday, May 28 (KO: 2pm).
And McNamara, who played for Celtic between 1995 and 2005, is unstinting in his praise of his two former team-mates, and he tells a story that illustrates the Henrik’s determination to be the best.
“When he came to Scotland at first he did not play golf and he was a high handicapper,” he said. “Within a year, he was down to single figures. He had natural sporting ability but he had determination along with it.
“Henrik is obviously one of the best that I played alongside and he just got better with his quality, his training, his dedication.”
And of Lubo, McNamara said: “It was a time when Rangers were spending millions and this little guy comes along with no great fanfare. But what a talent – his touch, free-kicks off left and right, I defy anyone to tell what foot was better. If I was a betting man, I would probably say his right but I saw him score from a corner with his left foot.”
As for his favourite memories of the two Celtic greats, he said: “For Lubo, it would be the second one he scored at Ibrox in 2001 when we won 3-0. He turns the defender inside out and then finishes casually.
“Henrik? You would be here all day about his special moments and how good he made people feel. Seville was great. And the 6-2 game. That would be my favourite. You’re not doing it against the boys, you are doing it against international players in the biggest of games.”
And the former Hoops hero is looking forward to playing in Celtic FC Foundation’s charity match in May.
“Celtic has always been great at this,” he said. “Celtic is more a football club. That’s not a cliché. It’s a fact.”
Henrik’s Heroes versus Lubo’s Legends will take place at Celtic Park on Sunday, May 28, 2017, with a 2pm KO.
Tickets are on general sale, on a first come first served basis – maximum of 10 per person – priced at £12 for adults and £6 for concessions*.
Tickets are available to purchase online at www.celticfc.net, by calling 0871 226 1888** or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office. Rail Seating does not apply to this match.
Premium tickets (£30) and corporate packages (£135) are also available by calling 0871 226 1888** (Option 4) or emailing [email protected]
Net proceeds of the game will be devoted to Celtic FC Foundation, a charity aiming to uphold and promote the founding principles of our football club. The four priorities are to improve health, promote equality, encourage learning and tackle poverty and the Foundation have a strong track record of delivering successful community-based projects. There will be detailed projects in relation to proceeds from this match in due course.
* Concessions 65+/Under 16s.
** Calls cost 13p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. Booking fees apply online and via our sales line.