Simon Donnelly – A fine Celtic player unfairly burdened by Lou Macari

Simon Donnelly. Unfairly burdened, but a fine player to have graced the Hoops…

Thirty years ago a young striker by the name of Simon Donnelly scored his first ever goals for Celtic in a game against Raith Rovers at Celtic Park. Simon had just made the breakthrough that season and those two goals threw him into the limelight. It didn’t help matters though that his manager Lou Macari afterwards dubbed him the new ‘Kenny Dalglish’.

That was unfair of Macari to put so much pressure on a young player. Kenny was a one-off, a legend not only at Celtic, but in world football. It’s a bit like dubbing a young upcoming strike the new Messi in today’s game.

Simon to his credit didn’t let it affect him as he finished that season with four goals in 12 appearances, which was good going for a young player in a poor in Celtic side who were also going through well documented problems off the field.

 A portrait of Simon Donnelly of Celtic football club taken during the team photocall. Photo Allsport UK

The next season though wasn’t exactly a success for Simon as he failed to score in 24 appearances under Tommy Burns, although he did feature in the Scottish cup winning side. Maybe that Dalglish tag had being weighing to heavy on his mind? Who knows, but it certainly wouldn’t have helped.

The next two season though despite serious competition from the likes of Pierre Van Hoojidonk, Andy Thom Jorge Cadete and Paolo Di Canio saw Simon come into his own as he featured in 64 games scoring 15 goals across all competitions.

23 Jul 1997: Simon Donnelly in action during the UEFA Cup qualifier first leg against Inter Cabel at Ninian Park in Cardiff, Wales. Celtic won the match 3-0. Photo Shaun Botterill /Allsport

It was the 1997-98 season though that Simon would enjoy his best campaign as a Celtic player under the leadership of Wim Jansen. Simon featured in 44 games scoring 16 goals in all competitions as we won the league cup and that unforgettable title clinched on the last day of a nerve racking season.

Simon put in some terrific performances and scored a number of important goals. He scored against Liverpool in a dramatic UEFA cup tie. The vital winning goal against St Johnstone in the League cup not to mention ever so important strikes that proved pivotal in that pressure filled league campaign.

28 September 1996 Simon Donnelly during a match in the Scottish Premier Division. Photo Allsport /Allsport

He was one of our most valuable players that campaign and will be fondly remembered for his efforts. In total Simon made 195 appearances for the club scoring 41 goals winning every major honour in the Scottish game before joining Sheffield Wednesday in 1999.

He may have been unfairly burdened by that early comparision, but it didn’t stop him from being a success in a Celtic jersey.

Just an Ordinary Bhoy

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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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