Talking Celtic with Scott Alcroft – McGinn, Robertson, Given and more: The players that got away

Every time Andrew Robertson or John McGinn pull on a jersey for their respective clubs, social media is especially awash with the, “Why did we let them out of our grasp?” conversations. It got us thinking at ACSOM, which other players did we either:

a.) Let go too soon?
b.) Come so close to signing?
c.) Should have signed?

Here’s my own thoughts on this and, as ever, let me know your thoughts.

Players we let go too soon…

Now, I could put 100 guys in here with players recently such as KT, Moussa, big Victor and Virgil van Dijk, but I mean players from the youths etc. who went on to be cracking players. I’ll start us off with the obvious one.

Andy Robertson

Andy is by far our biggest mistake in letting a player go too soon. The same as our next player in this feature, Andy was deemed too small to make it and was unfortunately asked to leave Celtic.

Andy went back to the bottom of Scottish football to ply his trade and, in an astronomical amount of time, has gone on to become one of the best left-backs in Europe.

It’s a case of ‘what if?’ with Andy and, with his love of Celtic still clear, who knows? We may still see him in the Hoops first-team one day.

Shay Given

Shay Given was another player deemed too small for Celtic. Shay then went on to have an excellent career south of the border and will always go down as one of the EPL greats.

Shay also served Ireland well with a tremendous record. It’s another case of ‘what if?’ with Shay. He could’ve had a long and distinguished career with his beloved Hoops but, with the talent that he clearly had, it wouldn’t have taken long before the EPL sharks came circling if he had made it to the first team.

Graeme Souness

Yes, that Souness!

Graeme Souness could’ve and probably should’ve been a Celtic player, believe it or not. He used to train with Celtic on a Tuesday and a Thursday night and could’ve joined the ranks of the famous ‘Quality Street Gang’ of the 1970s. Imagine Souness lining up up with McGrain, Macari and Dalglish et al? We had the chance to sign him up but let him slip from our grasp to England. What could’ve been if we had signed him? Anybody got a time machine? Maybe other events wouldn’t have happened either…

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Players we came close to signing…

I could honestly go on forever with this section, as there’s been that many. However, what I’m going to try and do with this part is try to give you a few players that you may or may not know were so close to pulling on the famous jersey.

David Ginola

A transfer that still breaks me to this day. Apparently it was a done deal and he slipped away to Newcastle with a last minute change of heart.

Imagine we’d signed the gorgeous one? Stuart Armstrong’s hair had nothing on Dave’s!

Alan Shearer

Yes, Martin O’Neill tried twice to sign the Newcastle legend and it nearly happened. Shearer himself has commented on it many times and his answer in the end was simple, “I’m at Newcastle and already living my dream, I’m a lucky boy here”. As good as big Sutts was for us, imagine Shearer and Larsson up top together?

Steve Bruce

Another class act that we nearly signed before he went to Manchester United. Again, it was just a case of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for this one. It was all systems go and Bruce was all set for coming until Celtic changed their minds at the last minute over the £800k transfer fee. Top class centre-halves are hard to come by but Steve Bruce would’ve been a revelation in the hoops.

Alessandro Del Piero

The legend himself had the option to come to Celtic when his illustrious career at Juventus came to an end. He was coming to the end of his career and went to Sydney instead of coming to the east end of Glasgow before ending up playing in India. It’s one of his regrets not coming to Celtic and he’s commented on it many times wishing that he’d played for and in front of our amazing fans.

Players we should’ve signed…

John McGinn

Sorry folks, I had to mention him. Without a doubt, a massive schoolboy error on our behalf. We haggled and haggled with the asking price that Hibs wanted and Aston Villa came in and paid that price which was around the £2.5m mark and Super John McGinn was off down South. There was talk of Manchester United looking at him this summer with a price tag of £40m-£50m on him now. The EPL inflation prices are in effect here, of course, but what a player we missed out on for the sake of a few hundred thousand pounds.

James McCarthy

Again, penny pinching. James could’ve been signed up by Celtic when he was a young player playing first-team football at Hamilton Accies. James burst on to the scene at 16-years-old and was being tipped as the next Steven Gerrard (sorry) and, although he never hit the heights of that named person, he turned out to be a regular in the so-called best league on the planet. James would’ve been a revelation for his beloved Celtic if we’d only paid Hamilton what they wanted.

Jim McCalliog

One for the old team! Jim is a big Celtic fan and I’m sure that at any stage in his career, had Celtic gone in for him, he would’ve walked to Celtic Park.

And what a career he had. Jim spent virtually all of his career down south. He played in two FA Cup finals – winning one – and he was a runner-up with Wolves in the UEFA Cup Final as well in 1972.

Jim is probably most famous, though, for scoring THAT winning goal against the then world champions, England, in that famous 3-2 game at Wembley for Scotland which was, in fact, his international debut.

Jim ends my list. Who have I missed? There’s quite a few contenders like Emile Heskey, Steven Fletcher, Oliver Giroud and Peter Beardsley to name a few. Who else could’ve been on this list? Let me know your thoughts as ever folks.

Scott Alcroft
@ScottAlcroft

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