16 years ago today Celtic had one of the best European results in the club’s history, as the Hoops drew 0-0 against Barcelona to knock the Spanish side out of the UEFA Cup 1-0 on aggregate.

Of course, we all know the story of David Marshall’s heroics that night. However, one player who seems to have been almost forgotten for his performance that night is John Kennedy.

The Hoops centre-back, at the age of just 20, turned in a towering defensive display for the team, and he looked to be a player with the world at his feet.

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Out injured for three years

Of course, that would all change only a week later, when he suffered a knee injury whilst on international duty for Scotland, an injury which kept him out of action for three years.

John Kennedy and Neil Lennon

John Kennedy and Neil Lennon (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Kennedy did make his return in 2007 playing in a 2-1 win at Kilmarnock in 2007 which clinched the title for Celtic, but he ended up retiring at the age of only 26 in 2009.

However, Kennedy had shown great courage to overcome the odds to play football again, and he wasn’t going to let his enforced retirement derail his ambitions.

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He became a highly successful coach with the Hoops youth team, helping them win three titles in a row as part of the management team with Stevie Frail.

Been part of backroom staff for years

So successful was Kennedy with the youth team, that he was part of Ronny Deila’s backroom staff as Celtic manager, a role he kept when Brendan Rodgers was named Hoops boss.

John Kennedy and Neil Lennon

John Kennedy and Neil Lennon (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Now Kennedy has an even more important role, as he is currently assistant manager to Neil Lennon. When you consider how 16 years ago next week Kennedy’s career looked to be over, he deserves massive credit for becoming a vital part of Celtic’s staff.

Would that have happened had he not suffered that dreadful injury? Who can say. However, when it comes to a future Celtic manager, Kennedy will be high on the list of names, and few would have imagined that 16 years ago.

 

 

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