Kicking off a brand new Cutter series where we celebrate the great under-rated talents Ger Deegan doffs his cap to a gift from the Celtic gods.
‘Lubo Moravcik’, a name that resonates in the hearts of many a Glaswegian. For many, not a household name or a familiar one that rolls off the tongue as freely as ‘Jinky Johnson’, ‘Henrik Larsson’ or ‘Jock Stein’. But a name that when spoken of, brings joy and tranquility to all those who were lucky enough to see his genius grace the turf of Celtic Park.
Maybe a forgotten figure at times when reminiscing about the glory days at Parkhead but Moravcik is a player that in three short years at Celtic, created a hysteria of his own. Every time he received the ball in the green and white, he dazzled. It was a sense of excitement. A form of poetry. So effortlessly accurate with both feet, flawless in difficulty, and boy, could he put the ball in the net.
‘A gift from God’ as he is fondly known around the Barrowlands of Glasgow, is true in every sense. Even if he see’s it differently. ‘A gift from God? No, Celtic was a gift God gave to me’. He still to this day adores the time he spent at Celtic, frequently speaking about it being the best memories in his career. An unrequited love, it certainly is not.
He became a legend to those who stood on the terraces of ‘The Jungle’. If you put that into perspective, Ryan Giggs is a legend at Manchester United after 17 years, Gerrard at Liverpool after 17 years, it only took ‘Lubo’ three majestic seasons to reach a status of eternal greatness, with a club that has an extremely rich history.
The Slovakian international signed for ‘The Bhoys’ in November of 2008. He had previously spent time in France with St Etienne and Bastia and also a short spell at Duisburg in Germany, before making the move to Scotland. From the moment he stepped onto the pitch, the fans knew they had a player on their hands. If seeing glimpses of his magic in a 6-1 defeat of Dundee wasn’t enough to get the juices flowing, then a brace against local Old Firm rivals Rangers a fortnight later done the trick. He was magnificent, scoring twice in the demolition of Rangers.
His immediate impact on the team was obvious, and it was a fantastic display of trickery. A performance that made the win a lot more special and enforced the media, and all of Scotland to take notice. A legend was born.
Moravcik joined Celtic in 1998. At the age of 33, it didn’t give him all the time in the world to create a legacy at Parkhead (imagine if he’d of signed earlier), three years was all that was needed.
His abundance of ability and stylish play led him to link up perfectly with Henrik Larsson. The duo’s panache and class set them miles apart from fellow teammates, and outclassed rivals on a weekly basis.Their partnership paved the way for this Celtic team to devastate in attack. A devastation that eventually knocked Rangers off their perch and led Celtic to a historic domestic treble.
Moravcik finished up his time in Glasgow in 2002, when he moved to Japan. He made 129 appearances and scored 35 goals, a statistic, albeit impressive in its own right, that will never do justice to his time spent there.
In June 2015, Lubomir Moravcik turned 50 years old. It’s almost preposterous to think that he’s 50, only to be reminded that he joined Celtic a quite a tender age. He currently operates as a football agent from his home of Nitra-Slovakia and holds the position of Vice President of the Slovakian Football Association.
It is almost 17 years since we seen the brilliance of Moravcik in Scotland. In this time we have seen the collapse of Rangers Football Club to the lower divisions of Scottish football and on the other hand have seen the sheer dominance of Celtic.
Many players have come and gone, but one thing still remains; ‘the gift from God’ still ranks as high as any that have passed through the ‘Gallow-Gates’.
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