Martin O’Neill’s signings in his final season as Celtic manager were, frankly, abysmal.
He had brought in the dismal Henri Camara as some form of replacement for the King of Kings, and Juninho didn’t work out at all and the less said about Stephane Henchoz the better.
It would later be a season to forget for everyone concerned with the club, and the Scottish Cup being retained wouldn’t make up for the events of Helicopter Sunday, but one bright spark in a dull and lifeless campaign would be the enigmatic Craig Bellamy, who was signed amidst a media frenzy on the January deadline of 2005.
The Welsh striker was in the middle of a rammy with Graeme Souness when Martin O’Neill decided to take advantage of the situation and brought him to Celtic Park on a loan for the remainder of the season. When it emerged that Bellamy had worked Souness into a massive shoot, it was only going to endear him to the Celtic fans, and his antagonistic manner on and off the park provided a much needed shot in the arm for a side sleepwalking through games for the majority of the season.
Bellamy’s league debut was one to forget, as Rangers won at Celtic Park by two goals to nil, and the on loan Celt missed a sitter in the first half at 0-0, hitting a tame effort right at the keeper when he should have buried the chance, and it would be a turning point in the game, as the visitors would then dominate the match from that point.
However, he would quickly recover from that setback to stamp his authority over Scottish Fitba, by flat track bullying a Clyde player at Broadwood, to scoring one of the best hat-tricks ever seen in the game up here.
He would pick up the first medal of his career at Hampden in the anti climatic final against Dundee Utd, and ended the season with nine goals in fifteen games, including vital strikes against Hibs, Aberdeen and Rangers.
Many fans, including myself, clung onto false romantic hope that Bellamy would make a permanent move to Glasgow in the summer of 2005, but just like in any profession, money talks and English Premiership side Blackburn Rovers would SWOOP for him, ensuring Celtic would need to make do with some downgraded HITMAN for Gordon Strachan’s first season as manager the season later.
Nonetheless, for a guy who played a very small part that season, his contribution was massive for the club, and this is why Craig Bellamy is a TJDSBLOG January Gem!