PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland

so farewell then ...

Lee
Naylor

 

“Never seen someone so excited about signing” was how Gordon Strachan described Lee Naylor when he arrived and at the press conference certainly had the air of someone who couldn’t quite believe his luck. After nine years and over 300 appearances with Wolves Naylor joined for £600k with, funnily enough, Mulgrew going in the opposite direction as part of the deal. His excitement was almost matched by that of the support - we had signed a genuine left back, one that had made quite a few appearances, had represented England at U21 level and that Wolves had made a decent effort to keep. Ya dancer.

First impressions weren’t bad either; on his debut he set up the equaliser for Zurawski. Other new bhoy that day JVoH would later grab the winner. For the remainder of that season he was an impressive performer (at Old Trafford he was a constant threat with his crossing) and it appeared briefly that our long standing left back issue had a solution. Naylor was reasonably quick, could stick in a decent cross, could tackle and if need be would happily take a booking.

Additionally everyone who met him came away thinking what a nice guy he was.

He finished that season as a league champion, a Scottish Cup winner and a member of the Celtic team took AC Milan to extra time in the last 16 of the Champions League. During the season the England manager had said he was considering calling him up, although injury put a stop to that. It seemed too good to be true and it was. By mid way through the following season we were again focusing on left back as a weak point (although you could also argue that he was often left to defend the left all on his own when his midfield colleague didn’t quite make it back quickly enough). Putting him up against Messi in February 08 seemed like an act of real cruelty.

But right after that came, probably, his greatest moment in a Celtic shir.; We were caught in a tense game at Easter Road. An hour gone and no goals. In fact we weren’t even dominating. Naylor got the ball at the halfway line and instead of making his way down the line, or even playing the ball to McGeady, ran inside to the middle of the pitch. Given that he had never scored for us Hibs seemed happy to let him progress until he reached about 22 yards out, but when the challenge came it was hopelessly half-hearted. The ball ricocheted off the defender and fell perfectly to Naylor’s right foot. Without any hesitation he curled it perfectly in to the corner and set us on the way to a vital 2-0 win.

With the departure of Strachan in 2009 came the virtual departure of Lee Naylor. Danny Fox came in for a brief cameo and was no big improvement until Mowbray decided he didn’t really like him and then came Braafheid. Again no real improvement. When Mowbray was finally ushered off to tend his weeds Naylor was given an instant recall. While it would be false to say he was an outstanding improvement on what had gone before it would have to be said that he was superior to Braafheid.

Virtually his last significant act in a Celtic jersey is the one we all dream of; scoring against the hun. It may have been helped by a deflection, it may even have been helped by the fact that the goalie had just come on as a sub, but none of that matters. He got the goal every player in the hoops wants. He even stuck in the cross for the winner that night.

He left when his contract expired without a new club and at this time of writing he has yet to join another club, he also left with two League winners badges, one Scottich cup winners badge and one league cup winners medal.

We wish him all the best for his future.