It is a moment that Simon Donnelly remembers. It is a moment that disclosed the genius of an unheralded signing. “I got to him first,” said the former Celt of the celebrations in the wake of Lubo Moravcik’s opening goal in the 5-1 victory over Rangers in November 1998.
“It was a great scene. The place was going mad and Lubo was almost calmly taking the acclaim of the crowd. It was almost as if he was thinking: ‘I have arrived’.”
The diminutive Slovakian is set to descend on Celtic Park again as Lubo’s Legends take on Henrik’s Heroes in a match in aid of Celtic FC Foundation.
“I didn’t know anything about him except he was the wrong side of 30,” said Donnelly of Lubo’s signing. “But from day one any doubts evaporated. The guy just won you over immediately. He was unbelievable on his deliveries off either foot, and he could trap balls with his backside.
“Zinedine Zidane said he was one of the best No.10s he had played against in France. The impact he had in the latter stage of his career was unbelievable. Imagine him coming to Celtic in his 20s? He was a player made for the Celtic fans.”
And so was Henrik Larsson, who joined the club from Feyenoord in 1997 and played his part in the title-winning triumph that season which ‘stopped the 10’.
“Henrik was the best I played with,” admitted Donnelly. “He was the modern-day Kenny Dalglish. The first season he came we won the league. He was a scoring sensation but he was more than that. His subsequent career at Barcelona and Manchester United was a testimony to his quality.
“Everything he put into it, he got back out. He trained hard, worked hard. He was a fantastic education for me as a young man. In training or in a match, you just picked things up from him. I was on a charity pitch with him once for 10 minutes and I learned things yet again.
“Henrik was incredible. He would always seem to latch on to what you were doing. He had an understanding that meant he was a joy to play alongside.”
Not surprisingly, Simon Donnelly He is looking forward to renewing his acquaintance with Lubo and Henrik.
“These games are great because players can be like ships in the night and it is great to have a reunion,” he said, “and a chance to play at Celtic Park does not go down too badly either.
“But everyone at the club – players, ex-players, fans, workers -the most important thing is to raise money for Celtic FC Foundation. This is what the club is about and the supporters know that.”
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.