Rice, Rivaldo and Henri Camara replacing Henrik Larsson

Rivaldo and what might have been…

Final, Germany – Brazil, Wc 2002 /Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Coupe, Cup, Beker, Trophy, Trophee, Trofee /Allemagne, Duitsland, Bresil, Brasil, (Photo by Tim De Waele/Getty Images)

Brendan Rodgers last week revealed that he was close to signing Declan Rice on loan during his first spell as Celtic manager.

“That’s always the challenge – it only takes one injury to change the situation with a player who was lined up to come in. I remember when I was here the first time, we spent about three months looking for Declan Rice to come in. Declan was all set to come in and then all of a sudden they had an injury, he stayed and got in the team and the rest is history,” Brendan said.

 Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool and Declan Rice of Arsenal interact after the draw in the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield on December 23, 2023. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

So unfortunately a move for the midfielder didn’t materialise due to injuries, which allowed Rice to break into the West Ham side and the rest, as they say, is history. The midfielder is now of course a mainstay in the English international side and signed for Arsenal in a whopping £105 million deal last summer.

That’s football these things happen, it wasn’t meant to be, so no point in wondering what if. And even if Rice did join Celtic, he’d have had no guarantee of getting a regular game in that Celtic side that was winning every domestic trophy going.

But some signings that could have happened still bother folk, myself included and none more so than the missed opportunity of signing Brazilian legend Rivaldo.

 Final, Germany – Brazil, Wc 2002 /But, Goal, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Asamoah Gerald, Allemagne, Duitsland, Bresil, Brasil, (Photo by Tim De Waele/Getty Images)

Yes, the World Cup winning striker and former Barcelona man apparently could have signed on at the Hoops in 2004! Rumour has it that Martin O’Neill had major interest in the Brazilian and seen him as the man to take over from Henrik Larsson.

Rivaldo was only 32 having just departed AC Milan. He was still proven at the highest level and was in peak fitness, so signing him wouldn’t have been that much of a risk, but it’s widely known that Martin wanted to take him on the club’s pre-season tour to the USA to have a looks at him. Yes, in other words, he was being offered a trial.

Celtic coach Martin O’Neill celebrates a goal by Chris Sutton. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Martin did so much for the club and in my eyes is the best Celtic manager of my lifetime, but this has got to be considered a massive blunder by the Irishman. Yes, Rivaldo had other options on the table, but if we had offered him a permanent deal he could well have signed.

 Brazil’s forward Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the first goal against Turkey during the semi-final match of the FIFA 2002 World Cup Korea Japan 26 June, 2002, in Saitama, Japan. Brazil’s midfielder Rivaldo is at left.  (Photo PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Imagine the great Rivaldo in the Hoops? He would have been a revelation in this country. He would have helped us massively in Europe.

That’s not in question as he went on to sign for Olympiacos and scored 43 goals in 95 games in all competitions. He still had that world class talent, that wasn’t in doubt.

 Henri Camara during the Scottish premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on August 29, 2004. (Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

Instead we signed Henri Camara…to replace Henrik Larsson! When we could have had Rivaldo, oh, what might have been.

Just an Ordinary Bhoy



About Author

An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.

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