Regular readers to this site (there may very well be one or two) may recall this article I wrote 15 months ago regarding Georgios Samaras:
After last night’s dramatic win in Moscow Eddie Pearson contacted me to ask if I was a fan of Samaras’ yet. And the answer is..…….yes.
During the summer a friend remarked to me that Celtic needed a big striker up front who had pace and, preferably, a shot like a cannon. My reply to him was that we already had a player like that at Parkhead – Samaras. He has everything in his locker a striker requires and ideally the team should be built around his talents but it’s not only me who felt that there was something missing in the big guy’s make up.
There’s no doubt big Geo splits the Celtic support. It reminds me of the way my Dad used to describe Big Yogi, John Hughes, when I was younger – ‘Half the crowd used to swear by him and the other half swore at him’. And yet despite all the criticism thrown his way you cannot doubt that Samaras has talent.
Neil Lennon described the seven week summer spell between the initial draw against Helsinki and victory over Helsingborgs as ‘a living hell.’ I know what he means. Normally a draw against Finnish and Swedish opposition would see Celtic fancy their chances but with recent Euro disasters fresh in the memory, and an inexperienced side, confidence wasn’t exactly high.
I can recall the night at Parkhead when Helsinki took the lead and I have to say I thought the worst. However, the team showed great spirit to recover and take a 2-1 lead to Finland. In both away legs in Scandinavia Samaras scored vital goals and showed his experience in a young Celtic team. Qualification was a major achievement given the financial constraints we face in the SPL. In those four qualifying matches I rated Samaras as Celtic’s best player. The relief felt by Lennon (and the fans) was enormous and it remained to be seen how the young Celts would fare in the group stages.
In Moscow Samaras played well and helped to hold the shape of the team by keeping his position out wide on the left. In the final seconds he attacked Izzaguirre’s cross and headed home a glorious winner as watching Celtic fans all over the world let out exclamations of joy. At last big Sammi had showed us what he was capable of and showed a bit of heart into the bargain.
The win against Spartak was Celtic’s best in many years. Perhaps the most impressive thing is that this team does not rely heavily on one individual, such as a Larsson or a Nakamura, as we have tended to do in the past. This is a side who look solid in every area and have players on the bench who can come on and change a game.
So well done to Georgios Samaras on leading the Celtic charge in Europe. Whatever happens now, and we all hope for the very best, the big man has made a considerable impact. Hopefully the confidence he will gain from these goals will help him carry on the good form for the rest of the season.
There are some reading this who will be surprised at my sentiments. Well done Georgios. I am so proud you are a Celt.