I’m first up to do our weekly Throwback Thursday. With absolutely no favouritism, I’ve chosen Lubomir Moravcik. A midfield genius who remains largely unappreciated outside of Glasgow and Celtic supporters.
Born on the 22 June 1965, he played 80 games for Czechoslovakia/Slovakia scoring 13 goals and reaching the quarter finals of the 1990 World Cup where he got sent off against Germany. Everyone who has played with Lubo has placed him in their Starting XI of players they’ve played with, including former Celtic, Barcelona and Man United star Henrik Larsson.
He signed for St Etienne aged 25, who at the time were one of the biggest names in French football. He was the stand out player in a mid table side during the Golden Age of French Football. He then moved to German side Duisburg where he had a less successful time. But things were looking up for Lubo despite being of age where his career should be on the wind down.
He signed for Celtic in 1998 for £300,000 aged 33, and fans couldn’t imagine how much of an impact he would have. In fact, nearly everyone was up in arms about the signing, proclaiming that this was Josef Venglos just bringing in ‘one of his own. Hugh Keevins, a Scottish football ‘journalist’ stated “I don’t know what I find more laughable; the fact that Celtic cannot find £500,000 from their biscuit tin to sign a proven talent like John Spencer, or the fact that they then spent £300,000 on one of Dr. Jo’s old pals, the unknown Ľubomír Moravčík!” He was very well known in France and at one point was set for a big move to French giants Marseille until injury struck. But most of the Scottish media seemingly didn’t watch European football at the time with another ‘journalist’ John Traynor said “If anything, the signing of Ľubomír Moravčík at a cut price has merely caused them further embarrassment.”
How wrong they were.
Every single doubt in every Celtic fans mind was eradicated following the Old Firm game that came 2 weeks after his debut. He scored 2 goals as Celtic demolished rivals Ranger 5-1. The legend was born. With wonderful vision, sublime skill and an ability to slow the game down to his tempo, he was the ring leader. The team marched to the beat of his drum. Before he came to Celtic, he hadn’t won a trophy. Once the less-said-the-better age of Barnes and Dalglish passed, Martin O’Neill ushered in a new era in Scottish Football and Celtic. Finally, he got the silverware he deserved.
The highlight of his career was the Demolition Derby. 2 minutes in and he takes a corner, the ball breaks to Chris Sutton – 1-0 Celtic. 8 minutes in, he takes another corner, Petrov heads home – 2-0. 11 minutes gone and gets the ball and he turns and drops Ricksen like a Tory manifesto pledge, tees the ball up for Lambert – 3-0. Not bad for one of Dr Jo’s old pals. The Celts ran out 6-2 winners and Moravcik went down in Celtic folklore. But this was not Moravcik’s finest hour, that was yet to come.
The league was over, Celtic had won. But that wasn’t enough, they had been beaten and embarrassed by Rangers the year before as they won by 21 points. The Celts traveled to Ibrox in April for nothing more than bragging rights. He collected a lay off from Larsson, held off Ferguson and slotted it home. Then he made space for himself after turning inside Ricksen and made it 2-0. Henrik Larsson added the third.
Talking about the game he said “This game was special for me because it was almost my last chance to confirm my quality, especially away from home at Ibrox. When you score once in this derby game, people might say, maybe he was lucky. If you score twice, then people can see it’s not luck and you can see in my face that I was very happy.”
It was a shame that he did come to Celtic so late in his career, but we still got the best out of him.
“My favourite time, my most special time, was at Celtic….They said I was a ‘gift from God’ but it was the opposite – Celtic was a gift from God to me”
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