Whether it’s the scarring of his childhood, the indiscretions of his adulthood, or the troubling of a secret from his past, Tony Cascarino’s book – Full Time – was, albeit not a literary masterpiece, as honest an appraisal of his career and life, the challenges he faced – and of course his time in a Celtic shirt, as anything a footballer has ever had ghost written.
It was an incredible insight into the man and the player, and stands out by a distance when compared with the preference of his peers to sit on the fence collecting skelves in the backside rather than be in any way controversial or, heaven forbid, honest, while raking in the proceeds of sale.
As reported by Football Scotland today, Cascarino has continued with such honesty, and has admitted his decision to join Celtic in July 1991 was as much a regret of his as it was of any Celtic supporter who was soon to have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.
“I had spoken to Southampton and then Celtic came in for me and obviously I knew Liam Brady from the Republic of Ireland squad and I even roomed with him on one trip which was amazing because here I was sharing a room with such a star.
“He was the main reason I went to Celtic. I couldn’t turn them down because they are such a world-renowned club which huge support and I let my heart rule my head on that one – the reality is I should have gone to Southampton. I don’t think I did Liam any favours and I didn’t do any for myself. I got a lot of stick there as I wasn’t playing well. I was in and out of training.
“I knew Packie Bonner and Chris Morris from the Ireland team and I wish they had said a little bit more to me because I quickly realised the dressing room wasn’t particularly good. There seemed to be cliques and there was quite a difference in the money players were on.
“I just didn’t work out for me at Celtic. I was the record signing at the club and that wasn’t reflected in my performances. I had never asked for a transfer in my life but I walked into Liam Brady’s office and I said to him ‘It’s just not working out’. I wasn’t demanding to go but we discussed that I wasn’t playing and it would be better for both if I got away and we managed to do the swap deal with Tommy Boyd.
“So I went to Chelsea and Tommy came to Celtic and he went on to be a fantastic player for Celtic.”
For a player who arrived for £1.1m – a substantial fee for Celtic in July 1991 – and one who wouldn’t hit the back of the net until early October, even when he did score, the stars didn’t quite seem to align for Cascarino.
The former Villa striker, who had managed just 12 goals in 50 games at the Midlands club prior to joining Liam Brady’s attempted Celtic revolution, came on as a sub against Hearts, scored, and then got sent off – all in a six-minute spell.
You don’t need Harry hindsight after all to tell you Cascarino and Celtic were not a compatible match, it was as clear as day that it was never going to work out.
Whether he’d have been any better off at Southampton than he was in Glasgow’s east end we’ll never know, however, in the end it worked out well enough for both parties, as Celtic picked up Tom Boyd who would go on to stop the ten and lift the League Championship in season 97/98 and Cascarino would return to England and sign for Chelsea.
As a footballer Tony Cascarino left his mark on Celtic but for all the wrong reasons. Anything that could have gone wrong did so when Celtic and Cascarino’s histories briefly intertwined.
And whilst some may also pass judgement on his life, as much off the park as on it, it is refreshing to hear of footballers who, whilst offering some reasoning to their poor performances and off field decision making, choose to face up to just where their judgement was perhaps lacking.
It’s just a shame that Tony didn’t join us when someone like Stein, McNeill or O’Neill was in charge, and we had a Board that knew something about football. Things might have been different.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the worst Celtic player that I have ever clapped eyes on. Cascarino could only flourish when his team played route 1 football.
He must go down as one of our worst signings he showed nothing when he was with us and to make matters worse he told a lot of lies so that he could play for Ireland he said he was irish there’s not many Cascarinos that were born in Ireland I wouldn’t read the book it will probably be more lies anything fir a buck
Nothing to do with the board he must be one of the worst players celtic have ever signed and an lying imposter as well,he told lies about his nationality so that he could play for Ireland there’s not a lot of Cascarinos been born in Ireland wouldn’t read the book it will be full of lies to .