Ever since Billy McNeill saddled a young Steve Fulton with the nickname ‘Baggio’ in 1989 I’ve been reluctant to impose great expectations on new Celtic players. Fulton was an excellent footballer who perhaps didn’t fulfil all that was being said about him as a teenager. It was his great misfortune to have made his breakthrough at a time when Celtic were entering their most barren period of the last 60 years. I liked him, and so did many Hearts fans. Fulton was the outstanding player in the 1998 Scottish Cup final when Hearts beat Rangers 2-1 and is still remembered fondly in Gorgie.  

And so, I’ve been a little less enthusiastic than others about the arrival of our three Japanese imports Daizen Maeda, Yosuke Ideguchi and Reo Hatate. When I say I’m ‘less enthusiastic’ here I simply mean that I don’t think we’ve signed Zinedine Zidane, Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Andriy Shevchenko. Ange Postecoglu seems to know what he’s doing in the transfer market and you sense that the days of Celtic managers turning up at training to greet the arrival of overseas players signed by someone else are happily over.

It’s enough for me at this stage to know that they look like seasoned professionals from a league which is more highly rated abroad than it is here. I’m quietly optimistic and happy to leave it at that.

When Celtic make some noise in the overseas market your thoughts soon turn to the great foreign players who have worn the hoops. So, I make no apologies for giving you my own top ten over the next two weeks. The list is in no particular order. And I’ve included one or two players who perhaps were less than magnificent but captured our imagination nonetheless.

Johannes ‘Shuggie’ Edvalsson

Celtic Way:

I saw Shuggie make his debut in a pre-season friendly against Derby County, the reigning English champions in the summer of 1975. These exhibition matches were much more prestigious than they are now and were often fiercely competitive. Our big Icelander scored the only goal and went on to achieve cult status as a Celtic player. He had strength, quick feet for a big man and could finish. He also looked – how can I put this – as though he enjoyed himself off the park.

Paolo Di Canio

Celtic Way:

You couldn’t not love Paolo, even if later we discovered that he harboured dodgy political sentiments. What a brilliant player. In Edinburgh they use the word ‘radge’ to describe someone like Paolo. There isn’t quite a Glasgow equivalent. He had magic feet and was as lean and fit as they come. Not only was he a lethal finisher, but many of his goals were works of art. Occasionally, when I need cheered up, I go to YouTube to watch his goal against Aberdeen at Pittodrie in 1996. Words don’t do it justice. Just watch it for yourself.

He only lasted one season here but I loved the fact that we got a proper, top-drawer Italian player when he was actually at his peak. That won’t happen again in Scotland. And so we should simply cherish the short time he was with us. Even if he did try to chisel us with his wages at the end.

Lubomir Moravcik

Celtic Way:

Apart from Henrik Larsson, no other overseas player made me as happy as Lubo did in the Hoops. I’m happy to admit that this is partly due to the way that he shoved it back up sections of the Scottish football press whose traditional ignorance about anything beyond these shores led them to dismiss his signing. From his very first few games – including two goals in that 5-1 win against Rangers in 1998 – we knew he was a quality, quality player.

This was a player though, who had flourished at the very top level in France and for the Czech Republic, two arenas that were several tiers above where Scottish football was. Two golden moments (among many) stand out. When he trapped a ball coming out of the darkness in a midweek match against Hearts with his arse and the second of his two goals at Ibrox in 2001 when he turned the entire Rangers defence inside out. And, in the modern era, no other Celtic player has ever played as well against an authentically world class team that Lubo did in that 4-3 win against Juventus in the same year. What a treat it was to see him play football.

Artur Boruc

Celtic Way:

The Holy Goalie was another player whom it was impossible to dislike. Even after he’d made a rare howler you kind of knew that he’d soon be saving our skins again. Has any other Celtic goalkeeper made as many penalty saves? With Artur you also gained the impression that the Celtic defence drew confidence from his mere presence. He also qualifies for the term ‘radge’ on account of his signs of the cross at Ibrox and some glorious idiosyncrasies in his off-field lifestyle. You imagine him living out his retirement in Warsaw going to Legia games with his chums and getting howling with them afterwards and maybe treating them to a few bursts of the ‘Hail Hail’ in a suitably louche tavern.  

Bobo Balde

Celtic Way:

The big man was not the most cultured defender we’ve ever had. Nor was he the quickest or even the most mobile. But somehow we loved him. He rarely had a bad game in the Hoops and his errors were scarce. I think it was his tackling that warmed your blood. They weren’t neat and rarely tidy. But they were often cinematic. You could see them coming from a distance as those big legs gained momentum on his unsuspecting prey and the ground seemed to shake before the final impact.

He seemed a shy lad too and you imagined him in the player’s lounge afterwards slightly bewildered at the madhouse into which he’d wandered. And maybe even apologising to his direct opponent that day for gently brutalising him. And of course he was probably the only person ever to have bested Peter Lawwell at a time when the club was trying to jettison him and his big wage. Bobo stood his ground. “You are chief executive of Celtic Football Club, I am the chief executive of Bobo Balde.”

Celtic treated him very badly in the last few years of his contract, trying to humiliate him into a move away. But the big man wouldn’t budge and insisted on playing for his place … and picking up a few million in the process. Total respect.

The final five will be added in next week's column