Come the end of the season, Celtic will no doubt part company with some playing staff. One of those players will be Paddy McCourt.
He began his Celtic career five years ago in what turned out to be Gordon Strachan’s final season at the club. Strachan did strive to get McCourt to the sort of fitness level that would make him a first team regular but it never materialised.
Strachan’s stance on McCourt’s ability and match fitness led many, including myself as to why he bought him in the first place. Perhaps it was the need to buy, but buy small and there was little risk involved?
Whether you agreed with Strachan’s opinion, Paddy continued his career at Celtic after the head coach had departed. Strachan left under a cloud, cast by sections of the Celtic support, but Paddy would remain a Celtic player for another four years.
His presence in the first team was notable by his absence. When he did feature he made some memorable moments though.
Seldom seen, and sporadically influential, Paddy has to date scored 10 goals for the club. The one thing he didn’t do was score easy goals.
If there was an simple goal scoring path for ‘Derry Pele’ it certainly wasn’t for him. His preference would be to have a rack of players between himself and the intended target.
It didn’t matter how many of these players stood between him and beating the keeper. Usually two or more were a good starting point though.
Dribbling the ball was what Paddy was all about. It was an old style of direct play sadly missing in the modern game and lets be honest, we loved him for doing it.
His best season for the club was undoubtedly 2010-2011 where he amassed 31 appearances for the first team in all competitions. He added 7 goals to that season statistic as well but we wouldn’t see that kind of input from him again.
Neil Lennon showed faith in him during his first full season in charge. Lennon had his own plans to develop the team though and Paddy slipped further down the pecking order as the team progressed.
Although never a true ninety minute man for Celtic, he has given us some special moments. I don’t think many would argue that he was kept on purely for the entertainment value and the fact that the fans loved it when he made a sub appearance.
I did used to wonder how good he could have been but then that wouldn’t be the first time I’ve thought that about a Celtic player. Whatever flawed him, the memories he has given we Celtic supporters some special memories.
Good luck Paddy and all the best for the future.