The 3 unforgettable Celtic moments from 2021
In the words of Nat King Cole, “unforgettable, that’s what you are”, and while it’s unlikely he was singing about Celtic Football Club, there were a few pivotal moments this calendar year.
We saw it all. Empty Parkhead, full Parkhead. Cup defeat, Cup success.
It felt like we got the best and worst of supporting Celtic this year alone, and while much of it ought not to be committed to memory, some of it was absolutely wonderful.
talented clairvoyant would’ve found how the year’s ended to be far-fetched. We became truly box office; in a grim sense, then a more cheerful one.
So, let’s go through the best moments of 2021. Here, we’ve picked out 3 unforgettable incidences from a year that’s brought both ecstatic joy and incredible lows.
Don’t say we don’t spoil you.
Celtic Moment of 2021 #1: Ange Postecoglou joins the Bhoys
In terms of the most shocking moment of the year, it was when long-tipped managerial target Eddie Howe decided he wasn’t going to take the Celtic job, after months of speculation.
It seemed done. Absolutely, categorically done. All, of course, until it wasn’t.
So who, then, did Celtic turn to? Ange Postecoglou, an incredibly left-field option. And, owing to Covid-19, we actually got to learn a lot about him before he arrived at Celtic proper. You may have recognised the name from the 2014 World Cup, but otherwise, his club management heroics had gone largely unheralded in Europe.
We heard all about his attacking football. His achievements. The way he handled the media. Interviews with journalists were done, his former players looked up, his accolades counted. And suddenly, we forgot Eddie Howe existed.
The best moment from his arrival that showed he meant business? His first press conference of course. Asked about managing the club and a potential change in “standard”, he bristled at the thought.
Ange said [Celtic FC, 16.30]: “I’m assuming you’re saying I worked at a lower level, or something.
“I guess that’s a matter of opinion. I’ve coached at a World Cup.”
For me, it was then that Ange Postecoglou won the Celtic supporters over. Taking on the press’ clichés immediately will do that.
Foremost, the appointment seemed to herald a new way of thinking. We’d been linked with Premier League has-beens, coaches that dithered, or “Celtic men” that fans wouldn’t have found inspiring. Instead, Ange is the man for Celtic. The fans absolutely adore him.
Celtic Moment of 2021 #2: Jota finds Kyogo…
Aw, now. This one had to be in here.
Against Ferencvaros, a team who buried our Champions League aspirations last season, Adam Montgomery wins the ball on our byline. He finds Jota, with a clever exchange of passes. Jota advances. He looks up.
Kyogo is on the run. The lofted ball is played brilliantly. Kyogo meets it with an exquisite touch, setting himself up, he moves on to his right, keeper has no chance…
Goal. And what a goal. The UEFA Europa League Goal of the Group Stage, no less.
It’s almost as if we were set up to lose this one. A team we’d struggled against before, at 3.30pm on a Tuesday, after two chastening Europa League defeats. It was a must-win, not just for Europa League hopes, but European footballing hopes in general.
With a capacity crowd in attendance, this may have not been a European night under the lights, but it was so amazing to hear a full Celtic Park going absolutely tonto at a goal in the Europa League. What a goal, too, between two players who summarised to spark Ange brought to Celtic in 21-22.
Celtic Moment of 2021 #3: Full-time at Hampden
The Premier Sports Cup eluded us last season for the first time in what felt like an age. St Johnstone had our trophy in their possession, following four consecutive wins. A Quadruple Treble had been won, after all.
So, with a new regime in place, exciting players raring to go and a Hibs side in disarray to beat, there was a certain sense of destiny on the 19th of December.
Hibs made it difficult for us, though. In typical Hampden final style, it took our opponents making a mark to wake us up. But wake up we did, and in emphatic fashion.
It took a matter of seconds for Callum McGregor to find Kyogo for the equaliser. The Hibs fans were left gasping with Celtic catching them utterly cold.
That was true of the second goal, too. The Bhoys, in the ascendency, won a free-kick, which was taken quickly by Tom Rogic. He found Kyogo set to beat an offside trap, the Japanese striker received it, chipped it over Matt Macey and bang; 2-1.
It was a nervy ending, but when the full-time whistle came, it was magnificent. Ange Postecoglou, so readily and unfairly doubted, delivered the first silverware of the season. For the fans, it was a genuinely emotional site, seeing Kyogo jump on the boss to celebrate a job well done.
That’s going to live for a long time in the memory. Because, glorious as it was in isolation, it felt like the start of something. What a way to end a year that started so grimly, with a horrible feeling at the club, division between supporters and the board, and under-performing players on the pitch.
What a difference a year makes. There’s still a lot that Celtic need to do to make more memories, but after that win at Hampden, the feelings are extremely positive.