As much as all of the focus will be on Craig Gordon on Sunday given he could’ve easily been playing for Celtic instead, Liam Boyce is another who fits that bill.
The Hearts duo look all but set to start against Neil Lennon’s Hoops in Sunday’s Scottish Cup final. This comes after Gordon left Celtic for free in the summer whilst Boyce himself previously had a trial at Parkhead.
In fact, it just so happens that Celtic’s current boss wanted him back at Lennoxtown to take part in a game as a trialist. In the end, Werder Bremen came in and Boyce career went in a different direction.
Back in 2013, the now main attacking threat at Tynecastle actually talked up his love of Celtic and touched on his former Parkhead trial. Here’s a look at what Boyce once said about nearly signing for us.
As quoted by the Daily Record, he said: “I had a week at Celtic in 2010 just after Neil Lennon was appointed manager and shortly before I went to Germany. It was class. I was lucky enough to train with the first team.
“It was just before Aiden McGeady left and it was brilliant to see how good he was. I loved it. It was a great experience for a teenager. I met Neil and he was great with me. Where I’m from, everyone is a Celtic fan so to get the chance to play alongside their players was brilliant. Celtic wanted me to come back as Neil wanted to see me in a trialists’ game.
“It would have been a dream come true to sign for Celtic. They’re the best team in Scotland and are regularly in the Champions League so it would have been amazing.”
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Snuff out Boyce and Celtic will be fine
Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to say Boyce could’ve been playing with us given his trial was over 10 years ago. But who knows how long he could’ve been at Parkhead for?
Since then, his career has taken a bit of a downward turn. Things didn’t work out with Bremen (which you can probably tell given he’s at Hearts). In fact, he only made several appearances for the German outfit’s reserve side before a productive renaissance at Ross County that led to a move to Burton Albion.
And it’s his County and Burton spells that should keep Celtic wary on Sunday. In Dingwall, Boyce managed 75 direct goal contributions in 115 appearances – a stunning return. His spell down south was also a successful one with 44 goals and assists in 93 outings (Transfermarkt).
He is, in every sense, a Premiership striker playing in the Championship. Hearts were fortunate to hold onto him regardless of how much they invested in his services.
However, despite his prolific career, Boyce has struggled generally against Celtic. He’s only scored one goal in 10 games against us for both County and Hearts. That goal was a penalty for County. Granted, it’s better than Alfredo Morelos has managed, but still nothing to be too impressed about.
Even so, he’s still Hearts’ most dangerous player and that can’t be ignored. Snuff him out of the game and the Scottish Cup is ours again.