PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland

so farewell then...

morten wieghorst

Big Morten was bought from Dundee by Tommy Burns in 1995 for the princely sum of 600,000, primarily as a useful addition to his Celtic squad but also because of his curious novelty value when it came to post-match interviews. He was the only Dane with a Lochee accent since Olaf Goatstrangler stowed away aboard a Viking longship and was washed up on the shore at Broughty Ferry in the year 936 AD.

He made his debut as a substitute in a Premier League match against Hibs on December 9th, a game which Celtic won 4:0. Indeed substitute is the position he found himself most often in his first season at Parkhead. He very generously let it be known in an interview in the Celtic View that this wasn't entirely unexpected following his move from Tayside. After all, he knew "how difficult it would be to get into a team that contained the likes of Paul McStay, Peter Grant and Phil O'Donnell." Tommy Burns must have been looking to use him in the Maestro position. It's the only reason I can think of for not breaking into that midfield.

To add to his generally low-key (not to say miserable) start to his Celtic career he also lost his place in the Danish squad for Euro '96 due to his lack of first team football. The following season he fared little better. The protracted run in the team which might have given his confidence a much needed boost never materialised. Things got so bad that David Hannah even got a game ahead of him.

He was attracting a fair bit of stick from some sections of the Celtic support as well. Short on pace and lacking a killer pass, he looked nothing like the kind of player we needed to take over from McStay when the inevitable end was fast approaching.

It was with McStay's retiral and Grant's departure that Wim Jansen turned to Wieghorst, probably because he had a shortage of personnel in that department, but it could also have been because the Dutchman thought he could coach the best out of the player. He certainly made a hell of a difference as big Greenock played a heroic role in stopping the dreaded ten.

Perhaps his finest hour and a half in a Celtic jersey came during the League Cup final against Dundee United that season.

His bad luck returned with a vengeance the following season and he was out for the best part of a year with a serious knee injury, another possible first team player denied to Doctor Jo during his spell at Celtic Park. A brief return under Barnes was followed by another serious injury. Hopes of fighting his way into Martin O'Neill's team were cruelly dashed when he was struck down by the debilitating and life-threatening brain illness which blighted another season of wretched misfortune for the likeable Dane.

It was quite uplifting to see him finally come back after all that to get a start in a few League Cup games towards the end of last season. He was used as a defender in these matches, a position where I always fancied the big man might be prove to be a useful asset should he have decided to accept the club's offer of a year's extension to his contract. His opportunities were always going to be limited though, and it wasn't much of a surprise when he went back to Denmark on a promise of regular first team football with Marc Rieper's Brondby.

We wish him the best of luck for the remainder of his career and he'll always be sure of a warm welcome whenever he returns to Celtic Park.

MANFRED LURKER

Morten's Celtic career

apps goals
1995-96 3+10 1
1996-97 14+9 2
1997-98 36+5 8
1998-99 6+3 0
1999-00 16+5 4
2000-01 0 0
2001-02 4+1 1

Total 79+33 16