PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland

so farewell then...

olivier tebily

So farewell then Olivier Tebily.
When Keith's mum asked me
If I had seen Olivier's 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 he's 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 wasn't 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 O'Neil; 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 country's 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 O'Neill's 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 O'Neill 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.