When Bhoys supporter and filmmaker Jamie Doran was travelling to Herat, Afghanistan, he probably wasn’t thinking too much about the Celtic manager job.
After all, the a four-time Emmy Award winner and former producer at the BBC was heading to meet the military head of the Taliban. Mullah Neazy controls much of Helmand, Kandahar and seven other provinces.
A scary moment occurred when, ahead of the meeting, Doran was approached by one of Neazy’s guards with an air of urgency.
Who will the next Celtic manager be?, he asked.
“It was a pretty bizarre situation.
“They seemed just like ordinary blokes in many ways, wanting to know which team I supported. They’d obviously spotted the Celtic top underneath my tunic and, when I confirmed this to them, they couldn’t stop talking about Odsonne Edouard, Scott Brown (“he is a very strong leader”) and a couple of other players. But the biggest topic was the new manager.
“They’d heard of Eddie Howe, but wondered why we weren’t going for someone more famous. I wasn’t about to disagree with them.”
Pockets of Celtic fans exist in neighbouring regions
Herat, a border town close to Iran, has interesting geographical implications. Celtic are adored by much of the neighbouring Muslim populations. West of Aghanistan, Syria and Palestine have pockets of Hoops-obsessed football fans.
“From what I could gather, their fascination with the club stems from the support Celtic fans have given to the Palestinian cause over the years. This is close to the heart of all Muslims and the backing from the Celtic diaspora has obviously struck a chord.”
Well. Of all the stories you cover as a Celtic writer, this is the last thing you’d expect.
Our club is adored worldwide. Certainly, though, you don’t expect the Celtic manager job to come up in discussions with the Taliban.
American forces are planning to withdraw from Afghanistan this year [BBC]. US President Joe Biden is keen to end “America’s longest war”. There has been talk of de-escalation between the Afghan government and Taliban, although fighting continues.