When Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic saw off a spirited Aberdeen side 2-1 in 2016/17’s Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park, the former Liverpool boss accomplished something only two of his predecessors have ever managed: a domestic treble.
The last manager to achieve that feat at Parkhead was B-Rodge’s fellow Northern Irishman, Martin O’Neill, 17 years ago. Inspired by stars such as Henrik Larsson, Johan Mjallby and Lubo Moravcik, the Bhoys' class of 2000/01 almost broke the 100-points barrier (eventually finishing on 97), bagged both domestic cups and clocked up a 6-2 victory over Rangers. Here’s what the key members of that team are up to now...
GK: Rab Douglas
Former Dundee stopper Douglas was the safe pair of hands that stood between opposition and back of the net during Celtic’s Treble-winning campaign. He displaced Jonathan Gould in the Parkhead goalmouth that season and, although he was cup-tied for the successful League Cup run, Douglas featured at Hampden as the Hoops overcame Hibs to complete a trio of trophies.
Goalkeepers have a habit of refusing to retire and, true to form, the ex-Scotland international only stopped playing in 2018. A disappointing spell at Leicester came hot on the heels of his days in green and white, and loan stays at Millwall, Wycombe Wanderers and Plymouth Argyle followed before he headed back up north to rejoin Dundee. Douglas ended his career with Scottish League One outfit Arbroath, for whom he made his debut in November 2017 at the ripe age of 45.
DF: Tom Boyd
Former Chelsea man Boyd became the first Celtic captain to lift the Scottish Premier League trophy in 10 years when he held it aloft in 1998, a triumph which famously prevented bitter rivals Rangers from securing their 10th championship in a row. Under Martin O’Neill, he retained the armband and operated across the Bhoys’ backline throughout the 2000/01 season.
Capped 72 times for Scotland, Boyd remained with Celtic until the end of his playing days, hanging up his boots in 2003 with three league titles, three League Cups and two Scottish Cups to his name. The ex-defender is still associated with the Scottish champions to this day and is currently an ambassador at Parkhead, working alongside fellow Hoops legends such as Billy McNeill and Davie Hay in this capacity.
DF: Johan Mjallby
Swedish giant Mjallby towered over Scottish football between 1998 and 2004. During the O’Neill era, the Sweden international was a mainstay in central defence, usually featuring on the left-hand side of a back three beside Boyd and Joos Valgaeren. Affectionately known as Big Dolph for his all-action playing style and physical resemblance to compatriot Dolph Lundgren, Mjallby was a fan favourite for the entirety of his Celtic career.
After spells with Levante in Spain, and AIK and Rimbo IF in his homeland, Mjallby returned to Celtic as assistant head coach between 2010 and 2014, working alongside manager Neil Lennon. He has since broken into senior management himself and is currently in charge of FC Stockholm, after a stint with Swedish second-tier outfit Gefle IF in 2018.
DF: Joos Valgaeren
Defensive reinforcements were high on O’Neill’s agenda when he inherited the keys to the Celtic kingdom from John Barnes in 2000, and one of his first recruits was hard-tackling Belgium international Valgaeren. Brought in from Dutch outfit Roda JC for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £3.8m, the towering centre-back was an instant smash at Celtic Park and quickly became a permanent fixture in O’Neill’s three-man defence.
After leaving Parkhead as a hero in 2005, Valgaeren returned to his homeland to play for Club Brugge. He spent three years there, and has a Belgian Cup winner’s medal to show for it, before crossing the border to wind down his career with Emmen in the Netherlands. Since retiring from football in 2010, Valgaeren has led a quiet life away from the public eye.
MF: Didier Agathe
One of O’Neill’s shrewdest signings during his time at Celtic, Agathe helped the Hoops recoup the £27,000 they paid Hibs for him within a matter of games. The flying Frenchman was pacey and skilful in equal measure, and these qualities ensured he was never far from his manager’s plans either on the right wing or at wing-back.
Agathe briefly reunited with O’Neill at Aston Villa following his Parkhead exit in 2006, though his time at Villa Park proved brief and the club opted not to extend his short-term contract. These days, he runs a football academy on the French island of Reunion, where he was born, and has helped local youngsters secure trials with clubs in Scotland’s lower divisions.
MF: Stiliyan Petrov
Not many professional footballers would be willing to take a job in their friend’s burger van to improve their English, but Petrov was never your average footballer. Signed as a teenager by John Barnes in the summer of 1999, the Bulgarian midfielder had a tough time fitting in at Celtic during his first season – not helped by Barnes playing him out of position. It wasn’t until Martin O’Neill arrived at Parkhead that Petrov would fulfil his lofty potential.
The Northern Irishman shifted Petrov to midfield where he formed a devastating partnership with Paul Lambert, Neil Lennon and Alan Thompson. Playing box-to-box, he was the most attack-minded of the bunch and netted seven league goals during Celtic’s Treble-winning campaign. Petrov’s passion, determination and natural talent catapulted him to hero status at Parkhead and helped him become the first foreigner to land the SPFA Young Player of the Year award at the end of the season.
A battle with acute leukaemia disrupted his post-Celtic career, the entirety of which he spent at Aston Villa following a £6.5m move in 2006. With his illness now in remission, the Bulgarian is well on the way to becoming a full-time coach.
MF: Paul Lambert
Lambert grew up a Rangers fan, but nobody at Parkhead was going to hold that against him after he proved pivotal in the Celtic side that prevented the Gers from winning 10 in a row in 1997/98. Lambert added steel and leadership to the Hoops' midfield, qualities he'd honed in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund – the club where he’d won the Champions League in 1997.
Lambert made 40 appearances for the Bhoys in all competitions in 2000/01, and further success and silverware followed. He left Celtic to manage Livingston in 2005 and, at one point, had to dust off his boots and register himself as a player to help alleviate an injury crisis. Since then, he's managed eight clubs in England and is currently on his way down to League One at Ipswich.
MF: Lubomir Moravcik
Skilful Slovak Moravcik brought flair and panache to the centre of the park. Already a veteran at 33 when Dr Jozef Venglos signed him for just £300,000 in 1998, the midfielder continued rolling back the years under O’Neill and forged a lethal partnership with Henrik Larsson. Moravcik produced a career-best performance in the Old Firm derby of April 2001, in which he bagged a brace in a 3-0 win over bitter foes Rangers at Ibrox.
After leaving Parkhead for Japanese outfit JEF United in 2002, Moravcik wound down his playing career at Nitra in his homeland, and has since moved into coaching. His first management position was with Slovakian top-flight side Ruzomberok, followed by a stint in charge of Slovakia’s under-16s. The Celtic legend is now the vice-president of the Slovak Football Association.
MF: Alan Thompson
O’Neill spent wisely ahead of his maiden season in charge at Parkhead, investing the £6m they received from Leeds for Mark Viduka to make improvements across the pitch. Alan Thompson, a £2.75m acquisition from Aston Villa, added creativity and an occasional goal threat to the Hoops’ midfield.
Thompson was always up for Old Firm clashes and scored the winner against Rangers on two separate occasions during his time at Celtic. One of his finest hours came in February 2001 when he scored the only goal of a Glasgow derby which singlehandedly prevented the Gers from resurrecting their title challenge.
Since calling time on his playing career in 2008, Thompson has been doing the rounds as a coach. He briefly served in Neil Lennon’s backroom team at Celtic and was the assistant manager at League One strugglers Bury until October 2017.
FW: Chris Sutton
O’Neill splashed the cash on Sutton during his first summer at the helm, shelling out £6m – hefty by Scottish standards in the early-2000s – to rescue the striker from an underwhelming spell at Chelsea. Sutton was an instant success at Celtic, netting on his debut as the Hoops saw off Dundee United 2-1 and establishing himself as a fan favourite when he struck twice during a 6-2 demolition of Rangers in the first Old Firm match of the campaign.
Sutton’s strike partnership with Henrik Larsson was lethal, and between them they racked up 68 goals in all competitions that season. He called time on his playing career in 2007, one year after leaving Parkhead and while on the books at Aston Villa, after suffering a serious eye injury. A brief foray into management with Lincoln City followed, but punditry is now his thing. Sutton has worked for outlets including the BBC, talkSPORT and BT Sport.
FW: Henrik Larsson
Wim Jansen will always be remembered for denying Rangers 10-in-a-row glory, but signing Larsson ranks almost as high on his list of Celtic achievements. With speed, aerial ability, intelligence and composure on his side, the Swede was the complete package; the kind of goalscoring machine that struck terror into the hearts of opposition when his name appeared on the teamsheet.
O’Neill took charge of Celtic just months after Larsson had returned to full match fitness from a broken leg, but the Sweden international played some of his best football that season, finishing the campaign with a whopping 53 goals in all competitions and a European Golden Shoe to show for his efforts. Three of those strikes came in the League Cup final against Kilmarnock and a further two in the Scottish Cup final against Hibernian, as the Hoops strolled to 3-0 victories in both games.
Spells with footballing giants Barcelona and Manchester United followed, but Larsson's playing days would end where they began: at Swedish lower-league side Hogaborgs. Since retirement he’s been involved in management, most recently with Helsingborgs in 2016, and has been tipped for a Celtic Park return in a coaching capacity.
Sub: Neil Lennon
Celtic’s campaign was already well under way when O’Neill added midfield firebrand Lennon to their ranks in December 2000, paying his former club Leicester £5.75m. The Northern Ireland international traditionally took on a similar role to Lambert in the centre of the park, but this was during an age when having two holding midfielders was more of a luxury than an excess.
Lennon slotted right in at Parkhead, working tirelessly off the ball and giving his attack-minded team-mates the chance to press higher up the pitch. The future Celtic manager enjoyed seven successful years as a player with them before moving to Nottingham Forest, and later Wycombe Wanderers. The Hoops handed him his first management position in 2010, and now he's back again after Brendan Rodgers' acrimonious departure.
Sub: Tommy Johnson
With Larsson and Sutton firing on all cylinders throughout 2000/01, the other strikers on Celtic’s books barely got a look in – but a special mention goes to Tommy Johnson for his contributions. The former Aston Villa forward scored the goal which wrapped up the league title, finding the net in front of over 60,000 fans in a 1-0 home win over St Mirren.
Johnson’s time at Celtic Park was marred by injuries but he played on for another six years after leaving Glasgow behind in 2001. Today, he's still involved in football and has coaching badges to his name. A fleeting stint on Paul Ince’s backroom team at Notts County came and went in 2007, as did a head of recruitment gig at Blackburn, since when he's coached within the Northern Irish FA and is now a senior scout at Watford.
Sub: Jackie McNamara
The son of former Celtic legend Jackie Snr, versatile full-back McNamara was a Celtic legend long before O’Neill arrived in Glasgow. During the Irishman’s tenure, he gradually became a squad player. In 2000/01, however, the defender made 42 appearances across all competitions and scored the opening goal in the Scottish Cup final.
Since calling time on his playing career in 2011, off the back of a season with Partick Thistle, McNamara has broken into management. Spells in charge of Partick and Dundee United were followed by a year-long stay in England with York City. The club dropped into non-league football during his tenure, though, and his association with them ended in March 2018 after a stint as chief executive.
Manager: Martin O’Neill
When O’Neill arrived at Celtic from Leicester in the summer of 2000, he took on a club that had finished distant runners-up to Rangers the season before. The only thing his predecessor, John Barnes, will be remembered for is inspiring one of the greatest football headlines of all time following a humiliating cup defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle. It wasn’t exactly a time of great expectations at Parkhead.
The intense Irishman, however, defied the odds to become the first Hoops boss since the legendary Jock Stein to complete a domestic clean sweep. His reign at Celtic Park yielded seven trophies, a first UEFA Cup final appearance and a record winning run of 24 consecutive league in 2003/04. O’Neill parted ways with the club in 2005 to care for his sick wife, Geraldine, leaving behind quite the legacy.
The following year he returned to management with Premier League outfit Aston Villa, where he spent four successful years, and a two-year stay at Sunderland followed. O’Neill is currently in charge of the Republic of Ireland, with former Celtic midfielder Roy Keane as his deputy. The pair couldn’t quite guide Ireland to the 2018 World Cup, but both are still working together at Nottingham Forest.
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