PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland

Ton'gue in Cheek

Quite soon after the 5:1 Old Firm of a couple of years ago Lubo was doing an interview, through an interpreter, for Scotland on Sunday. What did it feel like, he was asked, to go from zero to hero.

"Tell him I was never a zero", was the reply.

For conclusive proof check out this video. The man is adored in his native Slovakia, revered in France among the fans of Bastia and St.Etienne, and has almost been beatified at Parkhead. It's not difficult to see why when you sit back and enjoy the barrage of goals featured here.

It goes right back to the beginning of his career in Nitra, now part of a resurgent Slovakia but then very much located behind the Iron Curtain, which explains some of the awful kit the young Moravcik is pictured in, incuding a whole team wearing flared tracksuit bottoms.

Lubo reveals that at the insistance of his father he studied at agricultural college so that he would have a career outside the game. I bet he didn't realise then how handy that would come in when he faced up to some of the defenders in the SPL.

Some of the goals from his early days at Nitra and also while playing for the Czechoslovakian national team are spookily familiar in style to some of his more recent efforts in the SPL but are still hugely enjoyable to watch such is their range and virtuosity.

While in France Moravcik was on the verge of making it big with Marseille but chose instead to stay at struggling St.Etienne because of the feelings he had for the club and its supporters, a decision he reckons he wouldn't look back on with a huge amount of satisfacion and one which Eric Black reckons prevented him from making the next step, to the likes of Barcelona.

He came to Parkhead thanks mainly to Dr Jo - a man whose eye for a player has never been truly recognised - in October '98, made his debut against Dundee at the start of November - laying on two goals - and scored his first double against the Huns in the 5:1 game, the second of which brough an abrupt halt to the laughter coming from the press box when the Celtic forward line for that game was announced. Rather than give Venglos some credit for an astute bit of work in the transfer market, the hacks here were still pouring scorn on the fact that Lubo was 33 years of age and had cost the club tuppence ha'penny. Had he stayed fit that season instead of having to sit out three months with a hamstring injury who knows what might have happened.

All of the great man's significant moments in the Hoops are covered and there's a good interview with Martin O'Neill, as well as a cough and a spit from Mark Viduka (who he? ed).

The video is one of the better examples of the genre I've seen released under the auspices of Celtic and looks set to be the favourite way to pass an hour and a half after the Christmas pud this year.

If there's one small criticism I would make it's that I would like to have seen more action of Lubo's visionary passing ability as well as his goalscoring (and a montage of all his wee corner tricks would have set it off superbly) but this doesn't detract at all from what is an entertaining video.

Looks like First Press have stumbled across the winning formula; take an interesting subject - Lubo comes across as a genuinely humble person as well as being a genius player - keep the talking heads to a minimum and include plenty of goals.

A fitting tribute to a great player. all together now, "I wish we'd got him when he was ten years younger!"

MANFRED LURKER

back to top