THE Celtic Legends’ squad for the Jock Stein 30th Anniversary Charity Match – sponsored by Direct Slating Supplies – continues to go from strength to strength as ex-Hoops’ striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink becomes the latest player to confirm his participation ahead of this Sunday.
Signed from Dutch giants PSV in 2006, Vennegoor of Hesselink was the focal point of attack under Gordon Strachan and the classy forward enjoyed a successful three-year spell at Celtic, which included various league and cup medals as well as some vital goals domestically and in Europe.
A popular player throughout his time at Celtic Park, the ex-Dutch internationalist enjoyed a superb relationship with the fans and he could hardly hide his delight at being reunited with the Hoops’ faithful at East End Park.
Speaking to the official Celtic website, he said: “It’s great of course to be involved, and it’ll be nice putting on the Hoops again, and seeing the Celtic fans at East End Park will be nice too.
“In general, it’s been a while since I played so I’ll need to step up my game a bit. I trained yesterday with the guys I normally play football with and I put some extra effort in and we did some football tennis.
“I’m trying to get fit again and it’ll be nice to get a run out. I remember last year when I came over for the Maestrio match and they’re fun games.
“It’s for charity and you get to see people from the club and those who you worked with from when you were a player and it’s nice to visit Scotland again. I’m really looking forward to it.”
A man of sizable stature and spirit, Vennegoor of Hesselink could be counted on to score when it really mattered.
Recounting some of his fondest memories from his time in the Hoops’, Jan said: “I’ll always remember scoring against the likes of Barcelona and Man United in the Champions League, playing those games and our success in getting through the group stages and becoming league champions.
“I have a lot of memories. I played for the club for three years and had a lot of success with the team and I always cherished the moments that I had with Celtic.
“My last minute winner against Rangers in 2008 will always mean a lot to me and I have a framed photo in my house of me scoring that goal.
“Moments like that stay in the memories of a lot of people and Celtic fans always remember you and playing big games and scoring goals for the club will always stay with me.”
Arriving from The Netherlands, the ex-Celtic No.10 initially came to the club knowing only a few details about Celtic’s illustrious history. However, by his departure, he was left in no doubt about the scale and merit of Jock Stein and Celtic’s magnificent achievements.
He said: “For home-grown players and the Bhoys from Glasgow, Jock Stein meant a lot and achieving what he did with players all within a 30 miles radius was special.
“When I came to the club, I knew Celtic had a European Cup but because I came from Holland, I couldn’t tell you all the names from that team and I knew that part of Celtic’s history but not all the details. However, after I’d been at the club a while, I knew!
“I can still remember the quote in the tunnel which reads ‘Celtic jerseys are not for second best…they don’t shrink to fit inferior players’, and that says so much about who Jock Stein was as a manager and the size of his achievements for the club and Scottish football.
“You can see what Jock achieved with the Scottish national team and Dunfermline as well as Celtic and I think his influence was clearly massive.
“Although I came much later, Jock Stein and everything about him is in the club’s DNA and it’s almost similar to Johan Cruyff at Ajax, you just know Jock Stein and his style belongs to Celtic.”
Celtic Legends’ Squad So Far
Manager: Murdo MacLeod
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink
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 by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office.
Proceeds from the day will be shared between Celtic FC Foundation and the Pars Foundation, the respective charitable arms of both clubs