It's 23 years since Celtic made arguably the most left-field managerial appointment in the clubs 133 year-old history. 

Having finally wrestled the Scottish Premier League title back from rivals Rangers for the first time in 10 years under Dutchman Wim Jansen the Celtic supporters were understandably cock-a-hoop and optimistic about the future. 

That joy turned to agony less than 24 hours later when it emerged that Jansen had an escape clause in his contract which he wished to exercise. 

The Dutchman cited personal differences in his working relationship with then Celtic owner Fergus McCann and managing director Jock Brown.  

A two month fruitless search for a manager then begun with Norwegian coach Egil Olsen having the distinction of supposedly being the clubs first choice to succeed Jansen. 

Olsen initially agreed to take up the Parkhead post but then renegeded on his promise, bizarrely claiming the three month quarantine rule for his dog as one of his reasons for not pitching up in the East End of Glasgow. 

The managerial search ended on July 17th 1998 when Celtic much to everyone on planet football’s surprise announced that their new head coach would be 62 year-old Slovak Dr. Jo Venglos. 

As assistant to Vaclav Jezek, Venglos had helped Czechoslavakia win the European Championships in 1976. 

He also guided the nation to third place in the 1980 Euros as well as the quarter-final of the World Cup in 1990. 

Dr. Jo – he held a doctorate in Physical Education and specialised in psychology - had also enjoyed spells at Sloven Bratislava, Sporting Lisbon, Aston Villa and Fenerbahce. 

He was the first manager born outside of Britain or Ireland to take charge of a club in English football’s top flight. 

Venglos was well known within the corridors of power at both UEFA and FIFA. 

However, his welcome in Glasgow could best be described as lukewarm. 

‘Dr Who?’ and ‘Celtic sign a blank cheque’ were the unflattering newspaper headlines that greeted Dr. Jo’s arrival in Scotland. 

Former Celtic No.2 Eric Black believed that Venglos was a managerial star but he was cast in the wrong movie in Paradise. 

Venglos’s assistant recalled: “Dr. Jo was an absolute gem.  

“He was a humble man that had achieved a lot in his career with national teams and domestic teams in Czechsolavakia even before he came to Celtic.  

“I did some coaching work for the SFA and I had attended many lectures and seminars at UEFA that were given by Dr. Jo.  

“He was a well-known and a highly respected figure within UEFA and FIFA. 

“I spent a lot of time with him and his wife Eva who was also a warm and wonderful and very welcoming woman. They had a place in the west end and I used to go to and eat dinner at his house a lot. 

“Dr. Jo was a lovely, lovely man. 

“He was a managerial star and it was a definite case of the right man at the wrong time for Celtic. 

“The timing was just all wrong for both parties. 

“I remember Dr. Jo arrived to all sorts of headlines in the newspaper which I thought was totally and utterly disrespectful for a guy who knew the game inside out. 

“He inherited all sorts of problems at Celtic and bearing in mind he was 62 when he agreed to take the job. 

“Dr. Jo had no idea what he was walking into. 

“Myself and Kenny McDowall had taken pre-season training. 

“I had been acting Celtic manager for the first couple of pre-season games because for whatever reason the club just couldn’t attract a new manager. 

“Dr. Jo came in with just two weeks to go until the start of the season. 

“The club was in absolute turmoil if the truth be told. 

“There was player unrest and revolt in the dressing room because Wim Jansen had been allowed to leave. 

Celtic Way: Paul Lambert in action for CelticPaul Lambert in action for Celtic

“Paul Lambert was considering his future and there was just so much negativity surrounding Dr Jo’s appointment when he walked in the door but handled it all with real dignity and class.” 

Black admits that Venglos was on a hiding to nothing as Rangers had turned to former Dutch boss Dick Advocaat to restore their fortunes and handed him a treasure chest of funds with which to regain the league flag at the first time of asking. 

The Ibrox spending machine went into overdrive as in came Dutch international duo Artur Numan and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Colin Hendry, Andrei Kanchelskis, Stefan Klos, Neil McCann, Rod Wallace and French World Cup winner Stephane Guivarc’h to name but a few. 

Celtic tried to respond by signing striker Mark Viduka for £3.5 million from Croatia Zagreb in December. 

Viduka promptly did a runner and went AWOL announcing that he had quit the club without kicking a ball, citing stress as his main reason for not wanting to come to Glasgow. 

It came as no surprise when Rangers swept all before them and landed the domestic treble beating Celtic in the Scottish Cup final in the last game of the season in May. 

The Light Blues also plundered the title in the infamous ‘Shame Game’ at Celtic Park where Advocaat’s side triumphed 3-0. 

Black said: “Rangers were spending money like it was going out of fashion and they were recruiting top, top international players of repute under Advocaat. 

“Rangers were going toe-to-toe with clubs in Europe to land some big names. 

“How could Dr. Jo compete with the likes of that when he was on a fraction of the budget at Celtic? 

“Celtic signed Mark Viduka who then went AWOL and Dr. Jo was left to pick up the slack on that when the Australian striker did eventually return to the club. 

“You have no idea what Venglos was dealing with on a daily basis at the club but he remained dignified throughout because he loved the game. 

“The least said about the infamous game where Rangers won the title at Celtic Park the better.  

“It is just a real shame that Celtic didn’t rise to the occasion in the 1999 Scottish Cup final. 

“I would have loved to see Dr. Jo bow out the club as a winner with some silverware to show for all of his efforts. 

“I thought he deserved that.” 

There were some successes along the way in the rollercoaster of a season. 

Celtic Way: Lubomir Moravcik and Dr. Jo VenglosLubomir Moravcik and Dr. Jo Venglos

The £300,000 signing of 33 year-old Lubomir Moravcik from MSV Duisburg was hugely derided at the time. 

Lubo is now lauded as a bona-fide Celtic legend and forver called a ‘Gift from God’. 

Rangers were also put to the sword in a stunning 5-1 victory at Celtic Park in November 1998 with Moravcik netting his first two goals for the club. 

Swedish defender Johan Mjallby who was also recruited by Dr. Jo would go on to become a massive fans favourite. 

Like Black, Mjallby would also serve as an assistant to Neil Lennon during his first stint in charge of the club. 

Black said: “Despite all the money that Rangers were spending Celtic actually held their own against them in the matches. We drew 0-0 and 2-2 at Ibrox and we won 5-1 at Celtic Park and then lost that game 3-0 to concede the league championship. 

“The 5-1 game has gone down in Celtic folklore as nobody expected it. 

“That’s when Lubomir Moravcik announced himself on centre stage at Celtic. 

“His two goals that day were just stunning. 

“You could see from the puzzled expression on his face and the wild celebration of the Celtic supporters that he couldn’t quite understand what all the fuss was all about. 

“Lubo soon got it and then some and his signing was a masterstroke. 

“I was aware of Lubo because he had played most of his career in France and he had an unbelievable spell at St Etienne.

"He was due to sign for AC Milan but the French club didn’t allow the transfer to happen. 

“Dr. Jo brought him in at 33 years of age and he was slaughtered for that again. 

“I think we all know who had the last laugh on that score. 

“I remember Dr. Jo telling me to watch Lubo at training. 

“He was one of the most technically gifted players I had ever seen at close quarters. 

“Lubo would take free-kicks with both his left and right foot and he would stick them in the top corner each time. 

“What fascinated me is that the ball would not bend, spin or oscillate it would go straight in. 

“Imagine Lubo placing the ball down with the Adidas Tango logo panel facing you. 

“The ball would enter the net with the Adidas Tango logo panel facing you. 

“Lubo had this incredible technique with dead-ball situations and I had never seen anything like it in my life. 

“Dr. Jo would just stand back and chuckle to himself as he knew exactly what attributes Lubo brought to Celtic. 

“People ask about Dr. Jo’s legacy at the club. He bestowed Lubomir Moravcik on Celtic. Lubo is still referred to a ‘A Gift from God’. That was all Dr Jo’s doing. 

“That is not a bad legacy or the worst thing to be remembered for – is it?” 

Black also recounted the hilarious and farcical tale of Tony Warner’s finest hour-and-a-half between the sticks for the Hoops. 

The club were struggling to bring in a goalkeeper on emergency loan due to injuries to both first team No.1’s Jonathan Gould and Stewart Kerr. 

Warner was THIRD choice goalkeeper at Liverpool and Celtic were faced with an injury crisis. 

The Scouser made a memorable home debut in the 5-1 match against Rangers. 

Having played in a 2-1 defeat to St Johnstone in Perth the week before, Venglos still had his doubts about pitching Warner into a derby of such magnitude. 

The former Aberdeen and Metz striker was charged with the task of putting Warner through his paces at Celtic’s BARROWFIELD training ground less than 24 HOURS before the clash against Rangers. 

Black said: “Dr. Jo wasn’t too convinced about Tony Warner after the 2-1 loss to St Johnstone. 

“I remember he was still unsure what to do about him on the Friday. 

“He asked me if I thought Tony was any good. 

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“I thought he would cope with it all. 

“Dr. Jo then said go to Barrowfield and bombard him with shots from every angle. 

“This was early evening on the Friday and this was the goalkeeper that would be playing against Rangers barely hours later. 

“It was surreal and it actually sounds ludicrous now as Tony and I headed to Barrowfield on Dr. Jo’s orders to do some shooting practice. 

“Any Celtic supporters walking past Barrowfield that night would not have had a clue. 

“I was hammering shots from everywhere into the guy who would be keeping goal for Celtic the next day against Rangers in a vital league match! 

“It is absolutely hilarious now and insane when you look back at it.  

“Can you imagine anything like that happening in football now? 

“Dr. Jo asked me how Tony did on our return to Celtic Park and I said that he was fine. 

“I remember Dr. Jo looking at me and muttered words to the effect that Tony would need to be more than fine as he was all we had! 

“Celtic won 5-1 and Tony was rarely troubled in the game. 

“It is a story that Tony can now dine out on for the rest of his life. 

“I was delighted for him as he was a smashing lad and he was also a really decent goalkeeper.” 

Black admitted that the Warner incident apart, preparation was always the key for Dr. Jo. 

The methodology of training, the analysing of nutrition, rest and recuperation as well as the physiological approach to the game was a particular skillset that Dr. Jo brought to the table. 

The former Motherwell and Coventry boss reckoned Venglos was also ahead of his time when it came to coaching his teams. 

The 57 year-old conceded that he learned a lot from Dr. Jo and picked up invaluable tools of the trade that he took with him into his own managerial career. 

He revealed that Dr. Jo was obsessed with match analysis and that 20 years ago he was forming bonds and relationships with his players which is the hallmark of most modern-day football coaches. 

Black said: “Dr. Jo’s background was in PE and psychology. 

“He was very big on doing lung work with the Celtic players 

“He spoke maximising energy and getting air into the lungs after every run that players made. 

“Sometimes the Celtic players looked baffled at times. 

“I admit I did too but it was all part of his meticulous preparation for games. 

“He was also really big on fostering relationships with the Celtic players and working on the psychology of football. 

“That was something which I thought put him ahead of his time. 

“Forming bonds and relationships with players and getting into their heads and knowing their psyche was innovative stuff over two decades ago. 

“Modern-day coaches cannot function without the psychology part of the game now. 

“Dr. Jo was doing all of this over 20 years ago. 

“Technology has moved on so much that match analysis plays a big part in football today. 

“You can watch a whole match immediately after the final whistle because all the clips and the foottage are at your fingertips and disposal. 

“Dr. Jo was an early pioneer of instant match analysis. 

“Although he did not have the technology that every coach has nowadays. 

“If he did he would have thrived and possibly have been an even bigger success in coaching and management. 

“I remember at Celtic after every game when he had finished doing the press rounds we would go into his office supposedly for a glass of wine or a beer but it wasn’t for that at all. 

“Dr. Jo would conduct his match analysis right there and then and he would rate every players performance and give them a score ranging from 1-10 and he would ask me to do the same. 

“We would compare notes and this was immediately after a match had ended. 

“It was part of the preparation process for the next game to see how we could help improve certain  players scores and to make the team better. 

“It was brilliant and I learned so much from Dr. Jo with regards to things like that. 

“I took it fully on board and when I became an assistant at Sunderland to Steve Bruce I remember re-introducing it to him and we did the same thing as I had previously did with Dr. Jo at Celtic after games. 

Sadly Dr. Jo passed away aged 84 earlier this year. 

Black retains a huge amount of affection for Venglos to this day. 

The man who scored the opening goal for Aberdeen in the famous 1983 European Cup-Winners Cup win over Real Madrid admits that he often thinks of Dr. Jo and how he became a firm football friend despite their turbulent year in the Celtic Park trenches. 

Black : “I can’t speak highly enough of Dr. Jo. He was a wonderful person. 

“Out time working together may have been brief but it was a magnificent coaching education for somebody like myself. 

“He was an extremely intelligent, articulate and educated man but most humble with it. 

“He became a firm football friend and I valued that friendship most highly. 

“I think when the end came at Celtic in 1999 he was actually more relieved than anything else. 

“I got the feeling back then that he was ready to walk away. 

“He never ever told me that but I felt that one season in the Celtic hotseat was enough for him. 

“My abiding memory of Dr. Jo is seeing him once again in his native Prague. 

“He took me to his house that overlooked the River Danube. 

“He just looked so proud to be back in the Czech Republic and reflecting on a life well lived. 

“I am so happy that I got to see Dr. Jo in the comfort and serenity of those surroundings.” 

Dr. Jo is still fondly remembered and respected in equal measure in Glasgow’s East End and the man himself retained a special place in his heart for Celtic. 

Speaking in 2012, Dr. Jo said: “I have such a strong attachment to the  club and it’s impossible not to feel passionate about Celtic when I watch the team.  Most of the time, I watch European games as a coach. When Celtic play, I am like any other fan.” 

Thanks to Dr. Jo, the Celtic supporters will always have Tony Warner, the 5-1 game against Rangers and the gift from God – Lubomir Moravcik. 

Come to think of it. 

That’s not a bad managerial legacy.