The league season may now be over in a competitive sense, but assuming things calm down over the next couple of weeks, we will, in all likelihood, have a game to play against Sevco on March 21st.
As we look forward to that game, I thought it might be a nice idea to take a look back at some of my own memories from our many victories over both incarnations of the team from Ibrox. I attended my first Celtic game in 1992, and I was a season ticket holder for a number of years before moving to Japan in 2006. So, I’ve seen many a good hunskelping down the years.
So, today I present my personal selection of the best players in each position, that I remember watching put Rangers/Sevco in their place.
I would encourage you all to weigh in with your own suggested team in the comments. These are players that I have seen playing in the flesh for the Celtic first team, so apologies in advance to anyone from previous generations I may omit.
Being of a certain age, I’m going with the Martin O’Neill era 3-5-2 formation.
- Goalkeeper: Artur Boruc
There really could be only one choice for me here and it has to be Artur Boruc. The Holy Goalie may not necessarily be the best all-round goalkeeper I’ve seen play for Celtic. That honour probably goes to last season’s hero, Fraser Forster. However, Boruc made it clear pretty much from the start how much he detests Rangers and all they stand for. It’s no coincidence that he seemed to reserve some of his best Celtic performances for games against them. For those reasons, Boruc is my number 1
2. Left Centre Back: Bobo Balde
To beat Rangers, you need to show them who is boss right from the beginning. Few Celtic defenders ever did so with as much authority as Bobo Balde. Back in the early 2000s, whenever a Rangers player decided to take a liberty with a smaller Celtic player, the call would ring out around the stadium: “Bobo’s Gonna Get You!” And sure enough, within a matter of moments, justice would be served, and a Rangers player would need extended attention from the physio!
3. Centre Back: Johan Mjallby
Another Celtic defender from those days, built very much in the Bobo Balde mold was Johan Mjallby. When he first joined Celtic, the players nicknamed him Drago, and it’s not hard to see why. Not only did he look like Rocky Balboa’s greatest enemy, but when, just a few minutes into his Celtic debut, he smashed right through Jorg Albertz, it looked like he could hit as hard as the big Russian too. Albertz was anonymous for the rest of the game as Celtic went on to win 5-1 and secure what was at the time their biggest win over Rangers for many years.
4. Right Centre Back: Mikael Lustig
We stay in Sweden for my next defensive choice, Mikael Lustig. Lustig was neither the fastest, nor the classiest defender ever to play for Celtic. However few could question his commitment to the cause. In a game that has always looked for warriors to stand up and lead a team to victory, Lustig’s effort was never found wanting. His brilliant solo goal to cap off a memorable 5-1 rout at Ibrox in 2017 was the undoubted highlight of a number of fine performances from Lustig in the Glasgow Derby.
5. Left Wing-Back: Alan Thompson
If ever there was a player you could always depend on to score a screamer when it mattered, particularly against Rangers, then that man is Alan Thompson. With his delivery from wide, his excellent shooting and free-kick prowess, not to mention his no-nonsense approach to dealing with his opponents, Alan Thompson is exactly the kind of versatile figure you need in your midfield when you’re up against it.
6. Defensive Midfield: Scott Brown
There was only one contender here, and it has to be our captain and my personal favorite among the current Celtic squad: Scott Brown. Originally a powerhouse attacking midfielder when he first broke into the Hibs team, Brown’s move to Celtic saw him reinvent himself. To this day he remains the most tenacious player in our squad. It’s something of a cliche to say that managers want a player who will “run through a brick wall for them”, but Scott Brown is the sort who, if faced with such a challenge, wouldn’t just do it, he would do it with a smile on his face! And of course, no mention of Scott Brown is complete without discussing his goal against Rangers back in 2011. It was the moment that the celebration we would come to know as “The Broony” was born. Rumors that El Hadji Diouff still resides in Brown’s back pocket to this day, are unconfirmed at this time.
7. Right Wing Back: James Forrest
He may not always be the most popular player in the Celtic team, but he’s certainly one of the most dependable. I refer, of course, to James Forrest. The tricky winger has turned in many fine performances against those men in blue down the years, and has also stepped up with a number of crucial goals for Celtic both domestically and in Europe. It may be fashionable to blame him when the team aren’t doing well, but I have no hesitation in saying that, to this day, if I were the Celtic boss, Forrest’s name is the first one on my team sheet.
8. Attacking Midfield: Shunsuke Nakamura
One area where Celtic used to dominate, but we don’t currently, is in the realm of free kicks. As far as dead ball specialists go, Shunsuke Nakamura is one of the all-time greats, not just for Celtic, but globally. At the peak of his powers in the mid-2000s, perhaps only David Beckham was better. Of all the players I decided to include in this team, Shunsuke Nakamura was one of the easiest choices to make. After all, what other Celtic player could fire a ball through the window of a moving bus from the other end of the street?
9. Attacking Midfield: Lubomir Moravcik
No Celtic dream team would be complete without the addition of my favourite Celtic player of all-time, Lubomir Moravcik. Lubo, as the fans came to know him, struck fear into the hearts of Rangers fans from the moment he first faced them. His two goals in the his first game against them, leading to a 5-1 victory are perhaps his best remembered Glasgow derby moments. However, my personal favourite was his 2nd goal at Ibrox in a 3-0 victory back in 2001.
10. Striker: Chris Sutton
Of course when considering the question of a Celtic attacking line up from players of the last 30 years, the only question that really needs to be asked is: “who will partner Henrik Larsson?” In this case, I’ve decided to go with Chris Sutton. A brilliant goalscorer against Rangers on the park, in more recent times Sutton has become one of the most consistent and honest critics of their successor club off the park. He’s here because of his playing ability alone, but the fact that he has matured into such a merciless Hunskelper off the park obviously helps!
11. Striker: Henrik Larsson
What I can say about Henrik Larsson that hasn’t already been said elsewhere and probably in a far more eloquent way? He’s the King of Kings, the greatest player I have ever seen in a Celtic shirt. There’s an honest debate to be had over whether it is he or Jimmy Johnstone who is Celtic’s greatest of all-time, but its an argument that will never be truly settled. Despite both wearing the iconic number 7 shirt, they were very different types of player. Both geniuses in their own way. Rather than argue over who was better, its probably better just to be happy we saw them both in the glorious green and white.
So there you have it, that’s my dream team of players to put any team that calls itself Rangers to the sword. But what do you guys think?
Leave your chosen team in the comments and let the debate commence!