THE Derry Pele will return to Celtic Park this September, as Paradise gets set host ‘A Match for Cancer’, sponsored by Dafabet.
Fans’ favourite Paddy McCourt will be among a host of familiar figures who will feature in Stiliyan Petrov’s squad for the match on September 8, as they face off against a side hand-picked by opposing Captain, James Milner.
The 34-year-old has spent the last 10 months running his Talent and Development Academy for children aged 8-13 years-old in Derry, while playing part time for League of Ireland side Finn Harps.
He will, however, bring an end to his playing career in September this year to focus on coaching, having taken on the exciting new role of Head of Academy at Derry City.
McCourt spent five years with the Hoops between 2008 and 2013, scoring some truly magical goals along the way, and he is relishing the prospect of playing in front of the Celtic Park faithful once again.
He told the official Celtic website: “I’m really looking forward to getting back over to Celtic Park and sampling that special atmosphere again. Since I left the club I hadn’t managed to get back over at all until May this year, but with my playing career coming to an end it will hopefully allow me to get across more often now.
“I’m absolutely over the moon to have been invited to play in the charity match and on a personal note, it will be fantastic to step back out there at Celtic Park. The Celtic support is really special and I know they’ll come out in their numbers for this match, as they always do.”
Proceeds from the match will be devoted to tackling cancer through three equal beneficiary charities – Celtic FC Foundation, The Stiliyan Petrov Foundation and The James Milner Foundation. Paddy spoke of the importance of the purpose of the match and his delight at being involved.
“It’s a disease which affects so many people,” he said, “and you’ll be hard-pushed to find someone who hasn’t known a friend or family member to have been affected by cancer at some point. I’m honoured and privileged to have been asked to play in this match. It’s a great cause and I know that the funds raised will be put to good use.”
He was also quick to pay tribute to the two team Captains, adding: “Stiliyan and James have both had wonderful careers and been fantastic players on the park but they also have great reputations within the game for how they conduct themselves as professionals and as people.
“I’m delighted to be available and able to help by taking part in the match. I’m sure there will be a competitive edge to it and it’s important that we make it an entertaining occasion for the supporters, but the main thing is to ensure that plenty of money is raised.”
McCourt’s five-year spell with Celtic saw a number of special moments. However, for him, two memories in particular stand out from his time with the Club.
“There were plenty of great moments and I was really lucky that I played in a team that was always competing and I managed to win a few trophies,” he said. “On a personal note, though, there are two memories that I look back on most fondly.
“Firstly, making my competitive Celtic debut against Hibs, which was a huge occasion for myself and my family. Secondly, scoring my first goal for the club against Falkirk was an incredible moment.
“Having grown up supporting Celtic, playing and scoring for the team was the stuff of boyhood dreams and those are two things I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Paddy McCourt joins Joos Valgaeren as the first of the charity match players to be officially announced, with many more famous names to come.
Tickets are now on general sale, on a first come first served basis – maximum of 10 per person – priced at £14 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. The lower tier will be on sale in the first instance and 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]
Celtic FC Foundation will also be hosting a fundraising dinner – An Evening with Petrov and Milner – the night before the match, on Friday, September 7. This will take place in the Kerrydale Suite at Celtic Park.
Joining Stiliyan and James on the night will be a host of representatives from both charity match squads. Guests will enjoy an excellent three-course meal, auction, prize draw and after-dinner entertainment, in the company of a number of football and celebrity greats. The age limit is 18+.
Tickets are priced at £700 for a table of 10 or £70 per person and can booked via email [email protected] or telephone 0141 551 4321.
Mirroring the match, net proceeds of the dinner will be devoted to tackling cancer through Celtic FC Foundation (SC024648), The Stiliyan Petrov Foundation (1154131) and The James Milner Foundation (1146768).
* 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.