"Bobo’s Gonnae Get You!”

It was the war cry that became a scream from the Celtic supporters for a defender who went on to become a cult hero at the club.

From 2001 to 2005 - certainly up until the end of the Martin O'Neill era - Dianbobo Balde or 'Bobo' for short terrorised every Scottish top flight opposition attacker by his mere presence alone.

The French-born defender was signed from Toulouse in 2001 for a fee of ÂŁ900,000, but that was eventually wiped when the Ligue 1 club ran into some financial difficulties.

As a footballer, Balde was never the finished article. It was Rangers manager Walter Smith who once remarked of defender Scott Nisbet that "every pass was an adventure". The same could be said of Balde.

The Guinean was prone to suffering horrendous concentration lapses, although he was unbeatable in the air, ferocious in the tackle and no defender in Scotland or Europe for that matter could match him for the intimidation factor.

Just ask Barcelona's Thiago Motta. He was the victim of a famous 'slap' by Balde in the Parkhead tunnel during Celtic's UEFA cup tie with the La Liga giants in season 2004.

Just ask former Celtic team-mate Stiliyan Petrov who had an infamous dressing room bust-up with Balde in 2003 and lived to tell the tale after he had been pinned against a wall.

Ironically Balde stayed with Celtic until 2009 and won 10 medals with the club which only added to his cult status. Balde won five Scottish Premier League titles, three Scottish Cups, two Scottish League Cups and a UEFA Cup runners-up gong during his eight years with the club.

Celtic Way:

Ex-Dunfermline Athletic chairman John Yorkston once crassly joked that Balde had injured more players than the Pars' controversial synthetic surface which enraged O'Neill so much that he demanded an apology.

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And O'Neill was keen to revisit memories of the defender when speaking to The Celtic Way in a previous interview.

He said: "Do you remember when Bobo Balde handled the ball against Lyon the following season which stopped us from going through again? Well, I must tell you a funny story about that. Bobo handled the ball against Lyon and then he got sent off in the UEFA Cup final.

"When I was doing my writing for the book my daughter saw I was giving some praise to Bobo Balde and she turned around and said to me "Dad, why are you praising a man that stopped you from winning the UEFA Cup and prevented you from qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League?" I thought she is right and so I scored it out. I didn't do that - I am only joking!"

Yet in January 2005, Balde looked to be on his way out of Celtic and heading to Teesside to sign for Middlesbrough, O’Neill inexplicably offered him a new contract, worth a reported £28,000 a week over nearly five years. Balde duly took it.

Within months, O'Neill was gone to be replaced by Gordon Strachan and what happened next is the stuff of an Ealing comedy as the Celtic hierarchy tried everything in their power to get their man-mountain to leave the club in order to get his hefty wage bill off the premises.

Celtic deployed every tactic - demoting him to the reserves, banishing him from the first-team dressing room, forcing him to train with the Under-19s and even telling him not to report back for training in Glasgow but to keep himself fit in France.

Balde never flinched... he refused to yield or quit.

Strachan certainly didn't fancy him when he assumed control of Celtic after O'Neill's departure but despite various deals supposedly in the pipeline, nothing ever came to fruition and Balde rode out the storm.

In October 2007, Balde said: "I don’t want to be at a club where I’m not wanted, but I want to make clear it is rubbish to say I’m just taking the money… I’ve been told that I’m not in the top two defenders and that I’m down to sixth on the list."

Yet somehow he still managed to stay on at the club for a further two years.

It was during this impasse that Balde uttered one of the most wonderful lines to Celtic's then-CEO Peter Lawwell as he refused to budge and accept any compromise deal.

To Lawwell's and the club's utter astonishment, Balde said: "You are chief executive of Celtic Football Club. I am the chief executive of Bobo Balde."

The 16-word sentence only added to the fascination of a character whose popularity among the Celtic fans grew even more. Yet, for all his enduring popularity with the Celtic faithful, there is a strange curiosity surrounding Balde.

Celtic Way:

The 27 times-capped Guinea international who scored four goals for his country seems to have disappeared off the radar.

Surprisingly Balde is never present at any of the Celtic get-togethers or reunions, certainly from O'Neill's era and there have been many of them staged down the years.

It would appear that he has disappeared off the grid completely with even his former teammates unsure as to his exact whereabouts.

While speaking to Paul Lambert and Alan Thompson to mark the 20th anniversary of the UEFA Cup final in Seville - a match that ironically saw Balde receive his marching orders in extra time - neither of the midfield duo could shed any light on their former teammate's location.

Lambert said: "It's funny as I don't know where the big man has gone. Bobo hasn't been to one of the reunions we have had that's for sure.

"He was unique but you always knew he had your back. He had his faults but he was utterly fearless. He was strong defensively and he won titles and trophies because of that.

"Bobo's performance in the UEFA Cup semi-final away to Boavista was largely the reason why Celtic made it to the final. He was immense that night and got his head onto everything that they threw into the box.

"He was a big, big man and many people thought because of his size and physique that he wasn't as good a footballer as Joos Valgaeren or Johan Mjallby but the three of them were all powerful together and they gave us the platform to build on.

"When Bobo first came to Celtic he had a problem with his knee and Martin (O'Neill) put him in the team and I used to get changed next to him and he would complain about his injury. I would urge him to go through the pain barrier for one more game. He would go through it.

"I think he did it for 25 games that season out of respect for the manager and his team-mates. He would never suffer fools gladly. Bobo was his own kind of man. Even now, I can still hear myself saying 'one more game' to the big man and inevitably he would do it."

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Thompson said: "Bobo is one of the few I have not seen at these reunion nights. I have seen everybody else apart from Bobo. I have no idea where he is or what he is doing. I don't know if any of his former team-mates are still in touch with him.

"He was a good lad Bobo and a big lad and you didn't mess with him ever."

In 2003 the Celtic fans voted Balde as their Player of the Year. He was the inaugural winner of the award and praised the supporters, saying: "It means a lot to win this award. It’s good to know the fans are behind you and they are happy with what you do for them."

If you canvassed any Celtic supporter, they would remain happy to this day with what Bobo Balde did for them.

As for the player, well he was once quoted as saying the following: "Celtic was a great adventure for me in my career. We reached the UEFA Cup Final, were league champions five times and won several Scottish and League Cups. There were a lot of great matches in the Champions League and I’m very happy with the experience I had at such a fantastic club and stadium."

It would be wonderful to think that the strains of "Bobo's Gonnae Get You!" might be heard once more at a packed sell-out arena in Glasgow at some point in the future as the fans get to celebrate his achievements with the club.

As Lambert said: "Bobo is his own man" and perhaps Balde has chosen to go to ground and disappeared from public view deliberately. Whatever his reasons, it remains a very peculiar case indeed.

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The fact of the matter is that the CEO of Bobo Balde appears to temporarily have gone MIA and AWOL.

Here's hoping Balde surfaces sometime soon or at the very least an APB is put out on him.

That way for once in his career somebody might, just might, "Get Bobo!"

Hopefully then Balde can let the Celtic supporters, as well as his former manager O'Neill and team-mates Lambert and Thompson, know exactly what he's been up to.