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so farewell then...

rafael scheidt

So farewell then Rafael
You cost several million
They must be laughing their bums off
On the Copacabana at that one

If you have tears prepare to shed them as we take a painful journey through the Celtic career of Rafael Scheidt.

December 15 1999 was the fateful day when the boy from Brazil finally put pen to paper, and caused a million guffaws at the pronunciation of his surname. His signing had been touted for many a month. Celtic contract guru Jim Hone had travelled to South America to clinch the deal that would see the Brazilian national team centre half sign up in Glasgow.

Basically things went badly wrong from minute one. He wasn't fit, on the eve of his debut he was taken to hospital with appendicitis, he collided with a team mate in training, injuring himself quite seriously in the process and by the time he was due to actually make an appearance the manager who had signed him was back in punditry purgatory.

In his first six months in Scotland he had played less than 90 minutes of first team football. Oh and there was small matter of a major scandal brewing in Brazil; apparently the national manager had been taking bungs from Brazilian league clubs to pick duds to play in meaningless friendly games, allegedly to seduce gullible European clubs into shelling out for a "Brazilian international". Sound familiar?

And here is where we come to crux of the matter; Rafael was hopeless. Speed, skill, and cunning - he lacked the lot.

Of course the alarm bells had started ringing pretty early on for most people, Barnes had calmly stated that he was spending £5.6m on the basis on a video put together by the player's agent. I'm sure most junior players could probably cobble together a video that would make them look like the next Johann Cruyff; unfortunately, that don't make it so. Then it emerged that the games the footage had been taken from had been heavy defeats of the 4 or 5 nil variety. You couldn't script this, it just beggars belief.

When O'Neill took charge he stated that he would give the Brazilian a chance, and indeed Rafael made an appearance in some pre-season friendlies and one or two of the early season League Cup games. But he never looked the part.

The fact that he was instrumental in leaking goals was bad enough, but when the opposition is of the calibre of Bray Wanderers you know your centre-back is going to struggle against the Del Pieros of the SPL. It can't do your confidence much good either when you're dropped for a friendly against the mighty Sachsen Leipzig.

There are some apocryphal stories doing the rounds about what MON said to Rafael regarding his future prospects at Celtic, but the player himself in a recent interview in the Sunday Herald admitted that the Blessed Martin told him, "I like footballers who are not like you. I like footballers who play well."

He was quietly shuffled back off to Brazil on loan, where apparently he's been a big hit, something which might say more about the current state of league football in that country than about Rafael.

So how to summarise this absolute fiasco? You couldn't say it was a nail in Barnes' coffin - he hadn't even played by the time the axe fell - but you could certainly say it has affected Barnes' future employment prospects.

Rafael himself seems unperturbed by the ridicule heaped upon him in Scotland, but I suppose you wouldn't be either if you were getting that weekly wage. When you consider that his ten appearances averages out at something in the region of half a million quid per game you begin to see the phrase "waste of money" in a completely different light.

He's gone now, we're winning trophies and we can laugh about it after a few pints. Good riddance.

Olivier Tebily So farewell then Olivier Tebily. When KeithÕs mum asked me If I had seen OlivierÕs King Lear I thought she meant Something quite rude. Olivier Tebily might well turn out to be a fantastic acquisition for Birmingham City. Steve Bruce certainly seems to rate him, as this is something like the fourth time heÕs signed him. But his Celtic career seemed to be blighted by the kind of misfortune normally associated with Frank Spencer. Signed by John Barnes in the summer of 1999 for more than a million pounds, he was unveiled to the public alongside Eyal Berkovic and Bobby Petta, our other big signings that year. They were all holding balloons for some reason. Given his propensity for calamity, the only wonder now is that Olly wasnÕt last seen disappearing over the top of the North Stand while clutching on to his balloon string for dear life. First impression was that he certainly was built like an athlete. He also strolled through his first few games at the heart of the Celtic defence. Unfortunately this strolling about was part of the problem, for Olly was something of a throwback to the days of Derek Whyte, Mark McNally and Brian OÕNeil; no sooner would he complete a timely interception or emerge victorious from a tackle than he would have a seemingly massive surge of aberrant brainwave activity and cause complete mayhem in the defence where a few seconds previously there had been relative peace and harmony. As a result of his eccentric approach to safety first defending he quickly acquired the nickname Bombscare, although Heart Attack and Hospital Pass were synonyms that could have been equally apposite. As an indication of how his luck was going during his first season at Parkhead, he went to the African Nations Cup with the Ivory Coast and promptly found himself being held at gunpoint by the countryÕs military following a series of results that left the President somewhat underwhelmed. If, at any point during his gun-barrel-staring ordeal he felt as if he was going to shit himself then he at least had a small insight as to how most of us used to feel when Olly would receive the ball on his own eighteen yard line with the opposition striker rushing in to challenge him. His supreme self-confidence seemed to imbue him with the belief that it was indeed possible to dribble past five or six opponents while pinned back on your own six yard line. Similarly, he appeared to think nothing of passing the ball short to a team mate who was surrounded by markers. Martin OÕNeillÕs arrival was always going to be the making or breaking of Tebily. Either OFM would work the Petta magic on him and turn him into a competent defender or he would find himself in Dmitri Kharine Land. Eleven first team starts in two seasons has given him plenty of time to learn conversational Russian. With his transfer to Birmingham City OÕNeill has, incredibly, managed to recoup a large percentage of the money spent on Olivier. We can only hope that he finds better fortune down south than he did at Celtic Park, because, despite everything, I actually had a bit of a soft spot for the big lad. I desperately wanted him to be a success at Parkhead, but I realised pretty quickly that I would have needed the nerves of a fighter pilot to stand a season with Bombscare in the defence. Au revoir and bonne chance mon brave. So farewell, at long last, to Tommy Johnston, the man who scored our league winning goal last season, incredibly one of longest serving players, and by all accounts one the most popular and friendly people at Celtic Park.

The red headed Geordie arrived just as season 96-97 whimpered to a close. A £2.3m signing from Villa, he was Tommy Burns' last foray into the transfer market. Given that the league had been pretty much surrendered at that point, and clearly TB was about to be ushered out, his signing was something of a mystery, especially when we saw him.

Apparently when Martin O'Neil is looking at a player one of his criteria is that he must represent an improvement on what he already has. No matter which way you look at it TJ was not an improvement on what we had. In fact, given that he was signed as a striker, and that Van Hooijdonk had just left for Forest, TJ looked more like a huge step backwards.

His first couple of games did nothing to improve the outlook, given that they consisted of two dire semi finals against Falkirk, which we eventually lost. To give him some credit though, he did score our goal in the first game.

He managed to bag another before the end of the season, but with the departure of Cadette and Di Canio on the cards things weren't looking too bright for the Celtic forward line.

Wim the Tim took over in the hot seat and signed some funny haired Swedish lad to play up front. But he wasn't fit enough to start the season, and TJ started with Donnelly.

He scored in both legs of the UEFA cup against Inter Cable Tel, but on the opening day of the league campaign sustained a stomach injury that would sideline him for six months. By the time he reappeared in February Brattbak had also arrived, but his comeback game was a momentous one against Dunfermline; if we won we would be clear league leaders.

On came TJ with the score at 4:0, and about two minutes later off went TJ, having sustained a serious knee injury with his second touch of the ball (his first touch was never that pretty).

Another long absence, this time it was about a year.

All in all between July 1997 and April 1999 he played about 4 hours of competitive football, the kind of figures that get you the nick name of sicknote, or Phil O'Donnell. Even under Barnes he was out injured for most of the season, although he did get fit long enough to score the second in the league cup final win of 2000.

Last season was he was probably fitter than he'd ever been - or should that uninjured for the longest period?. But crucially, when called upon, he would come up with the goods.

He scored 8 goals last season, nearly all of them in tight games with no more than one goal in it (Killie at home in August, St. Johnstone away, Dundee at home), crucial goals that gained vital points.

Now there are two schools of thought about this; one is that TJ did the business and proved his worth, the other states that if Sutton had been playing we would have had a far more effective front line thereby making more chances to score more goals and winning those game at a canter. I'll leave it to you to decide which one you prefer.

The really curious thing about TJ was that often the actual performance he gave was far better than you would expect. Normally players let you down in that you imagine they are capable of much more than they produce. Johnston was the opposite. If he played a pass, or made a good run, or scored it was a wee bonus because basically he wasn't rated very highly - although that wasn't reflected in his strike rate, which was phenomenally high.

Admittedly the majority of his goals were against poor opposition (it sounds good to say that he got a few european goals, but less impressive if you know they were both against Inter Cable Tel), and they tended to come when there was precious worth playing for.

Dr Jo played TJ constantly in the build up to the 1999 Cup Final, and he scored in all those games, but didn't get into the starting line up.

The feeling was always that he was OK, but not a match winner.

He will be remembered for his hilarious league winning goal against St. Mirren, where he took a perfectly waited Larsson pass, let it slip under his foot and, under pressure from the keeper, lashed at it with his right foot (definitely his standing foot). It went rocketing in to the net. He at least had the good grace to look embarrassed.

He leaves with 1 league winners badge, 1 Scottish Cup medal and two league cup winners medals. We wish him well.

 

AB MURDOCH