PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland

so farewell then...

rab douglas

Goalkeepers. If ever Martin O'Neill had a blind spot, boy was this it.

By comparison with the fiscal probity that reigns at Celtic Park these days, at the time when he first came to the club MON was throwing dosh around like confetti. Hence Dundee must have been thrilled when the 'buy it now' price of 1.5 million was realised for big Rab (talk of 2 million for Niemi puts this deal into some perspective doesn't it?).

He went straight into the first team, but when you consider that the others vying for the gloves were Johnny Gould and Dmitri Kharine that's hardly much of a compliment.

In truth, he wasn't actually that bad a goalkeeper - most of the time.

Indeed he was capable of producing outstanding performances between the sticks. In the UEFA Cup tie against Valencia in Spain, for example, big Rab saved us from a real hiding. There's no doubt that he could be a good shot stopper and even managed a couple of penalty saves.

But there's more to this eccentric position than that, and Rab had an unfortunate proclivity which ensured that he will go down in the collective folk memory for all the wrong reasons. Like John Fallon, another Celtic goalie from a different era, Rab was an affable and likeable big guy who could be brilliant but was prone to dropping the most spine-twisting clangers, most memorably against Rangers.

His most recent aberration - helpfully assisting a speculative Vignal effort into the back of his net - was but one in a catalogue of blunders against the one team in the SPL where it's absolutely vital for the goalie to keep his concentration.

Indeed Rab's big game temperament was always a bit suspect, although I think it's a bit harsh to single him out for extra blame for the UEFA final defeat.

His main weaknesses were an inability to deal convincingly and consistently with crosses - one tabloid tried to do a hatchet job on him by featuring pictures of Rab coming out for crosses with his eyes shut - and a lack of conviction when bossing defenders in front of him. When you rationalise it, that's two major flaws in any goalie's CV.

Rab Douglas always did his best when playing for Celtic and seemed to derive as much pleasure as anybody when it came to achieving success. You could never grudge him it, but you can't help thinking he was a lucky bhoy to get the chance all the same.

The arrival on the scene of the more technically competent Marshall saw the writing on the wall for big Rab and he has gone to join the colony of ex-Celts at Leicester City, where he's sure to get a lot of practice on matchdays.

He goes with our best wishes.