“This Club Was My Home”
A little over one month ago, Georgios Samaras – “The Greek Gazelle” – signed for Rayo OKC (Oklahoma City) – a new club set to begin its life in the North American Soccer League (NASL), not to be confused with the more widely known Major League Soccer (MLS) which occupies the top rung of the American soccer ladder. At just thirty-one years of age, the decline of his career following his departure from Celtic Park has been relatively swift. An unsuccessful period at West Bromwich Albion saw him make just a handful of appearances, whilst the Greek did not take to life in the Middle East during a subsequent loan spell at Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilel. Having become a free agent once more thereafter, he was linked with Sporting (Portugal) before agreeing terms with Sampdoria (Italy), but doubts about his fitness saw the deal fall through. This was the case too when the New York Cosmos showed some interest, but with Samaras now on a return to full fitness and having found a new home for himself in Oklahoma, we can only wish him all the best for the future. Regardless, I felt this would be an appropriate time to remember five of the greatest moments of his Celtic career.
“From Russia With Love I” – Dinamo Moscow 0 Celtic 2 – 5th August, 2008
“He Dined in Hell” – Rangers 0 Celtic 2 – January 2nd, 2011
“From Russia with Love II” – Spartak Moscow 2 Celtic 3 – 2nd October, 2012
(Please note: You may have to watch a brief advert prior to viewing these highlights as they come from dailymotion).
“The Greek Gazelle Leaps” – Celtic 4 Aberdeen 3 – 15th March, 2013
“A Final Hat-Trick Hurrah” – Kilmarnock 2 Celtic 5 – 28th September, 2014
As Georgios Samaras’ Celtic career came to an end, one last goal from the penalty spot took his final statistics to 74 goals in 248 appearances between 2008 and 2014. He won four Scottish Premier League titles, two Scottish Cups and a single Scottish League Cup, whilst to date he has scored 9 international goals whilst representing his country on 81 occasions. “The Greek Gazelle” will always be remembered as an enigma of sorts, capable of astounding and frustrating in almost equal measure depending on how he played on any given day, but whenever he was at his best, he was a joy to behold. Undeniably, he had a few moments which many of us would rather forget, but these should not detract from those moments worthy of celebration. One thing is certain, nobody who saw him in a Celtic shirt will forget him, nor his magnificent hair, any time soon.