Ex-Celtic man Didier Agathe's incredible loyalty to players revealed

By Euan Davidson

January 26, 2021

As Celtic players go, Didier Agathe was easily one of our most likeable.

A bargain signing for Martin O’Neill in 2000 [Glasgow Times], the pacy winger spent 6 years at Paradise. A key part of the side that went to Seville, Agathe was amiable on and off the pitch. He was uncontroversial, showed real humility, and his work-rate was unquestionable.

Now as a manger, his personality is unchanged. In a recent conversation with the Daily Record, Agathe detailed the sacrifices he made for his players at Durham City.

The understated Celtic hero has recently taken a new job at English side Chester-Le-Street United, where he’s hoping to build momentum as a manager.

Agathe in the 2005 Scottish Cup Final / (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Durham difficulties for Celtic man Agathe

Regarding his difficult time at Durham, Agathe said:

“It was very difficult at Durham because of things going on that were out of my control.

“People may look at it and think that I am using that to hide behind results but that is not the case. I do not want to divulge everything that went on but what I can say is how difficult it was to work in.

“I brought over a group of promising young players, mostly from France and all between the ages of 18-21 and all with the blessing of the club.

“One of the players had come from Holland but had been told he had to sign a tenancy agreement with a landlord before he came in. Then he arrived and there was no wages for him.

“There was no pitch to train on. I had to pay to hire a pitch.

“One day I had to jump over a fence just to get access to a pitch we could use. There was no physio so I was paying myself for anyone who needed treatment.

“But it got much worse when it became clear that the club could not afford to pay wages.

“I told them to pay the players and not pay me if it was a choice between the two.”

 

Endless stamina: Didier Agathe / (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Celtic hero shows immense loyalty

Agathe continued:

“I was driving a mini-bus from 7am every day to pick people up… paying for taxis to get everyone to games.

“I was paying for everyone to go to the gym so we could try to work there. There were no facilities, no means of preparing for games.

“And then when it became clear that the players, who I had helped to bring over, could not pay their rent or food, then I paid for that too.

“Not because I wanted to be covered in glory or anything like that but because I felt like I could not abandon them.”

A superstar manager, he is not. However, Agathe’s relentless drive and sacrifice off the pitch mirrors who he was as a player. With a seemingly endless amount of stamina, Agathe patrolled the right flank under Martin O’Neill.  He was proficient as both a defensive presence and a winger who could whip in a cross.

Now armed with a full-time training pitch and better facilities [Non League Daily], we’re hoping the ex-Celtic winger can make real strides in management.

He’s clearly a popular figure with those who play under him. If he can break new ground with Chester-le-street, who knows what the future holds for Agathe?

Maybe one day, we’ll see him in the Celtic Park dugout.