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Genius. Wizard. Just two of the names attributed to the legendary Celtic forward Patsy Gallacher.

If you know your history then it's fair to say that Gallacher, who hailed from County Donegal, could well have given Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone a run for his money in the Greatest Ever Celt category.

Those that saw Gallacher in the flesh were, by all accounts, left spellbound. The legend of the man nicknamed the Mighty Atom lives on.

Even the spelling of his surname can still cause great consternation among the Hoops faithful. Is it Gallacher with a 'c' that appears on his headstone or Gallagher with a 'g'?

What isn't disputed is that Gallacher was a highly decorated player, winning six Scottish league titles, four Scottish cups, four Glasgow Cups and 11 Glasgow Charity Cups. He made 464 appearances for Celtic and scored 192 goals. He was capped twice by a Scottish League XI, once by Scotland (wartime), 11 times for Ireland, seven times by the Scottish FA tour and once by the Irish Free State (IFA).

He was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2019 and the award was collected by his grandson Kevin Gallacher of Dundee United, Blackburn Rovers and Scotland fame.

The family connection with the Hoops didn't end with Patsy himself though. It still continues to this day in fact - Gallacher's great-granddaughter Amy is currently a member of Fran Alonso's Celtic Women's team. When Amy put pen to paper in the club's boardroom, Patsy's medals were proudly on display in the cabinets.

He was slight of frame and at first glance his appearance made him look like the most unlikely candidate to succeed as a footballer. Gallacher, it was said, just didn't look best suited for the physical nature and cut and thrust of Scottish football.

READ MORE: Remembering the Celtic genius bigger than the Pope

As Hoops team-mate Jimmy Quinn once famously remarked to Willie Maley, who signed Gallacher for Celtic in 1911: "If you put that wee thing out on the park, you’ll be done for manslaughter!”

Maley persevered though and thrust Gallacher into the first team. The Mighty Atom's creative brilliance thereafter helped inspire the Hoops to four league titles in a row between 1914-17. Ironically, his first and last medals for Celtic would come in the Scottish Cup finals of 1912 and 1925.

Gallacher left a legacy. He was the most wonderful dribbler and his impudent and audacious talent saw him tease, terrorise and torment defenders.

He was a born entertainer and his incredible skills more often than not actually had an end product. He was no stranger to delivering the killer pass or hitting an explosive shot into the net.

Case in point: the unforgettable 1925 Scottish Cup triumph is still referred to as 'the Patsy Gallacher final’ to this day.

What happened? You ain't going to believe this but it's true; Gallacher scored a goal in the 2-1 win over Dundee by somersaulting with the ball between his feet into the net. Yes, you read that properly: Gallacher somersaulted into the net with the ball between his feet.

Celtic Way:

Celtic were trailing Dundee 1-0 when he produced his moment of improvised magic that has gone down in the annals of football folklore.

One newspaper report described his incredible goal thus: "He (Patsy Gallacher) jinked, jouked, hurdled, swerved, dribbled, jumped, fell, got up, ran on, jinked again, stumbled, jouked once more, went over his wilkies with the ball still grasped between his feet and suddenly, he was over the line, him and the ball, past an astonished Jock Britton, and Hampden to the last 75,000th man was rising in starry-eyed tribute to a genius in bootlaces."

He had the Celtic faithful in raptures every other week as he produced iconic and legendary moments like scoring a goal direct from kick-off once at Easter Road as he slalomed through the Hibs defence with no one able to catch him.

Gallacher possessed the kind of virtuoso talent that looked as though it was bestowed as a gift to him from superior beings on high.

READ MORE: Nobody was quite like Celtic's greatest-ever player Jimmy Johnstone

The wonderful Celtic website The Celtic Wiki informs us that in James E Handley’s book The Celtic Story: A History of Celtic Football Club, Gallacher was described thus:

It is hard to refrain from claiming that he was the greatest forward the Scottish game has ever seen. He caught the popular fancy with his unorthodox style, his inexhaustible treasury of tricks, and his magical elusiveness expressed in uncatchable wriggles, slips, swerves, hops and famous ‘hesitation’ stops. To see Patsy halt in mid-career, place a foot on the top of the ball and calmly wait for opponents, reluctant to approach and be fooled, to make up their minds, made many a supporter’s afternoon. Only his supreme cleverness saved him from annihilation.

Former team-mate and fellow Celtic immortal Jimmy McGrory once remarked of him: “He could win a game when the rest of us were just thinking about it. There is no present-day player in this country that I would put anywhere near his class. Even Jimmy Johnstone, with all his talents, never reached the Patsy Gallacher heights."

That is lofty praise indeed from the club's leading goalscorer of all time.

Perhaps, though, it was former chairman Robert Kelly who summed Gallacher up best. He said: "So long as there is a Celtic the name of Patsy Gallacher will be revered and his sons and their families can rightly be proud of that.”

On the 98th anniversary of Gallacher's legendary Scottish Cup final somersault goal, every Celtic supporter should raise a glass of cheer to the Mighty Atom.

Arguably the world of football has seen nothing like the genius and wizardry of Celtic's Patsy Gallacher before or since.

Say it out loud: the Mighty Atom wore green and white. Of that, the Celtic family are mightily proud.

This piece is an extract from the latest Celtic Digest newsletter, which is emailed out every weekday evening with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from The Celtic Way team.

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