When Fergus McCann appointed the curly haired Dutchman Wim Jansen as Celtic manager in July 1997, many fans were asking ‘who?‘ as they were under the impression former Portugal manager Artur Jorge was to become the gaffer.
This claim was made by the hacks, Hugh Keevins in particular, so when they got it spectacularly wrong they immediately went on the offensive. The headline the the Daily Record ‘The Worst Thing To Hit Hiroshima Since The Atom Bomb’ in reference to his previous job in Japan was typically in bad taste and unfortunately something we’ve come to expect from the gutter press in this country.
None of the so called footballing journalists had recalled Wim as a player who’d featured in the Feyenoord side that beat Celtic in the 1970 European Cup Final, or the Dutch international who played in TWO World Cup Finals, 1974/78.
His footballing pedigree was there for all to see.
Wim was basically brought in to stop the then Rangers winning ten-in-a-row. His first port of call was to old club Feyenoord to lure Swedish international Henrik Larsson to Celtic Park. Little did we know then how much an impact the dreadlocked Henrik would make in Celtic’s history.
But things didn’t start too well on the park for Wim. Two defeats in our first two league games, away to Hibs at Easter Road, and home to Dunfermline, both by a 2-1 scoreline left the Hoops second bottom of the league.
Gradually, as more players came in, most notably Paul Lambert from Borussia Dortmund, the team began to settle to become a good side. A League Cup win, 3-0 over Dundee United at Castle Greyskull showed everyone the Bhoys had a winning mentality.
That was confirmed when goals from Craig Burley and Paul Lambert helped Celtic defeat Rangers 2-0 at Celtic Park in the New Year game showing we meant business in the title challenge.
As it was, we had to wait until the last day of the season to win our first league title in ten years, with 2-0 victory in Paradise courtesy of Henrik and Harold Brattbakk. The scenes that day will live in the memory for a long, long time…
Today, Wim Jansen will be at Celtic Park, let’s all give him a great big welcome back, his place in history is secure!