With the paperwork taking a bit of time to complete in terms of a work permit, Izaguirre made his debut in the 1-0 away win against Motherwell at the end of August. Izzy put in that kind of performance where supporters admirably acknowledge, without wanting to get carried away, that a player has ‘something’.
As the weeks went by this ‘something’ revealed itself with remarkable consistency combined with pure energy.
Here we were seeing an attacking left back who was the very epitomy of the role in the modern game. Boundless, selfless running to support strikers and attacking midfielders, Izzy’s contribution played such a pivotal role in Celtic becoming a fast attractive attacking team under Lennon’s coaching. Constantly down the left side of the park Celtic were tearing opposition defences apart with Izzy creating chance after chance. His strength also lay in his ability to cut inside sometimes popping up around the D of the penalty area to provide potential goal scoring opportunities for himself. Perhaps his selfless qualities meant that he often looked for a team mate when in those positions. Nevertheless he scored a lovely debut goal against St Johnstone in October from exactly that kind of position when he intercepted a slack back pass, dinked the ball over the defenders head and coolly slotted it past the keeper. He looked as pleased as could be to get on the scoresheet. The reaction of players and supporters to his goal cemented the thinking that Celtic had discovered a gem of a player.
This thinking was confirmed by the increasing plaudits Izzy was receiving so much so that there was talk that he could feature in the current Barcelona set up. Obviously there was some talking up in this regard but Izzy’s strengths lie in his ability to move the ball quickly to a team mate and pick the right moment more often than not, a trait so integral to Barcelona and the way the modern game is developing. The understanding with other attacking players, particularly Commons and Hooper, made his qualities so potent for Celtic.
The 3-0 win against the huns in February was a game to be savoured for so many reasons but Izzy’s surging run down the left to set up Gary Hooper with an exquisite inch perfect pass was breathtakingly stunning in its execution.
We have not seen for a long time a Celtic player in this position who provides such purpose and finesse.
Of course Izzy’s attacking qualities meant that the opposition were often pushed back on that side of the park. They say that defence is the best form of attack and Izzy demonstrated this admirably. Having said that his tackling abilities combined with a couple of goal line clearances underlined that he understood the requirement to be part of a strong defence. It’s also worth noting that in a season when Celtic broke the SPL record for the most number of clean sheets Izzy more than played his part.
As the thunder poured out of the stands and the mass huddle’s littered the season’s run in, Izzy continued to respond with what were now trademark displays.
By the time Celtic were in the final furlong of 2010-11 Izzy was picking up award after award for his performances. An outstanding player of the year as voted for by his fellow professionals together with the Scottish writers and Celtic’s own supporters and players. This was no mean feat in a season in which Celtic had a number of other outstanding performers.
Perhaps understandably Izzy tired a little in the final handful of games in what had been his first season in a much more physically demanding environment. He returned to his benchmark level though in the Scottish Cup Final providing another solid display before unfurling his Honduran flag amid the celebrations at the final whistle. This moment summed up a player who is clearly modest in his outlook but fiercely proud of where he has come from and what he wanted to achieve when signing for Celtic. We should not forget Emilio’s words when he signed for the club,
“I thank God I have been given this chance and I hope and pray I can be a success. I will not waste this opportunity. It will make me a better footballer and a more experienced one.”
In one season Izzy has been more than a success and has grasped the opportunity far more than many before him. It has been a privilege to watch him in the Hoops and we can only hope that his level of performance is something we will be witnessing again in the season ahead. One thing is for sure, the Honduran is definitely on many more club radars now! Long may he stay at Celtic.