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Artur
Boruc

 

Oh farewell the Holy Goalie, without a shadow of doubt the best Celtic keeper of the last 20 years (and possibly beyond).

Boruc wasn’t just a great keeper, he was a character that the support could relate to. He reacted the way we would all like to react in certain circumstances, even if those actions weren’t always the wisest of choices. Because of that he also became a persecuted character for a while, although curiously the bookings for crowd reactions and police interviews all dried up when we stopped winning the league.

Boruc was one of WGS’s first signings. Although initially he was (and you’re going to hear this a lot during this particular Farewell Then) a loan signing.

In fact he wasn’t first choice for the opening two games but nine goals later Artur came in for the shell shocked David Marshall and stood between the sticks as we tried desperately to claw back five goals against Artmedia.

One immediate difference between Marshall and Boruc was that on a night when Celtic Park was only 2/3rds full you could hear the new goalie organising the defence (Marshall was notoriously silent).

From that night he kept his place and quickly established himself as one the best keepers we’d seen in so many years.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. He had a couple of gaffes during the season (he gave away a howling equaliser at East End park that was all but forgotten in the glow of the subsequent 8-1 win) but also produced some dazzling stuff, especially during our 1-0 win at Ibrox in February 2006.

At the end of that season we moved quickly to get him on a permanent deal. Just as well did too; Poland had a pretty miserable world cup, but Boruc was outstanding and by the end of the tournament it was generally accepted that we had one of the top goalies in Europe.

The following season he built on that reputation. Again he was worth a good 8-10 points on his own in the SPL but the highlight of that campaign was undoubtedly his fabulous penalty save from Louis Saha of Manchester United with only minutes to go of the Champions League tie, preserving a 1-0 lead and getting us in to the last 16 of the competiton for the first time. Not only did he save the kick, he denied any chance of a rebound by punching it about 15 yards out of the box.

But during season 2007-2008 more and more errors began to creep in. At Easter Road in September he was directly at fault for two goals as Hibs won 3-2 and in the winter of that season he picked up an injury that forced him out of action for several months.

When he returned he looked to be carrying some extra weight (a condition he would maintain for the rest of his time with us) although it must be said it was reassuring to have him back in place of Mark Brown and he was pretty solid for the remainder of the campaign, producing a couple of vital saves in the final game at Tannadice.

The following season saw more of the same - another nightmare at Easter Road, this time letting a straight down the middle 40 yard toe poke somehow squirm past him. Like the rest of the team he seemed to have simply run out of gas.

The highlights of that season were all in the league cup. Not only did we win the tournament, beating the hun in a cup final for the first time in 20 years, but during the penalty shootout at the end of the semi Artur Boruc stepped up and scored one of the best penalties you will ever see, side footing the ball with real power straight into the top corner.

Last season was another mix of good and bad. He was again carrying too much weight, but still managed to pull off logic defying saves, this time saving the day at Easter Road with an incredible stop to save a certain goal and preserve a fragile 1-0 lead.

He’s off to Italy now, Fiorentina, but I’m not sure a diet of pasta is quite what I would be advising for him at this stage.

He leaves with six medals, 3 league, 2 league cup and one Scottish.

We wish him all the very best and hope to see him in the North Stand in years to come.