Carl Muggleton can't muster a single bad word about his Celtic experience.

Signed by former Celtic boss Lou Macari in January 1994, he lasted just six months in Glasgow's east end. As memories go Muggleton readily confesses that his Celtic sojourn was a bittersweet moment in his football career.

However, many saw Muggleton's capture as indicative of the predicament and perilous state that Celtic found themselves in back then as they played catch-up to a rampant, big-spending Rangers. Muggleton joined a demoralised team. The club was also about to reach its nadir in the dreadful 1990s. Celtic were ripe for a takeover and the song ‘Sack the Board’ rang out as fan protests and boycotts were commonplace inside and outside the stadium.

Yet somehow Muggleton has been lumped in alongside striker Wayne Biggins and both have been mercilessly lampooned as the epitome of Celtic's old 'Biscuit Tin' mentality. He did not deserve that moniker. He was actually a far better goalkeeper than he gets credit for.

It was a definite case of the right player at Celtic at the wrong time, arguably the worst time, in the clubs illustrious 135-year history. Muggleton points to the hard numbers as evidence of this theory.

He said: "My statistics at Celtic were, contrary to popular belief, very good. I had six clean sheets in my first six games. I conceded nine goals in 13 matches which is decent. The shut-outs were a record that stood for 10 years and it was Rab Douglas that finally broke it. I was quite proud of that.

"I had a great time at Celtic and it was unfortunate the way things happened. I was disappointed to leave in the end. Things happen in football and a new manager in Tommy Burns came in to replace Lou Macari and things changed. That's what happened to me at Celtic.

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"The 1990s as everybody knows were difficult times for the club and when I signed a lot of things were going on in the background and it was tough. It was still the biggest club in Scotland and when a world-renowned club like Celtic come calling you don't knock them back, do you?"

The 55 year-old readily confesses that in terms of Celtic he was wet behind the ears. He definitely did not know his history and was blissfully unaware of the bitter city rivalry.

He said: "I came in a bit blind as there was not as much coverage down south of Scottish football then as there is now. I was not aware of any of the troubles at the club and the things that were going on up there at the time either.

"I was a bit naive to all the stuff that you learn about the Celtic and Rangers rivalry when you are up there. It was an interesting and great experience being in and around the city and the lads helped me out. Guys like Tony Mowbray, Gary Gillespie and Mark McNally were invaluable to me. McNally's mum and dad actually did the babysitting sometimes when my wife and I wanted to go out for a meal. Celtic really is a family club and the players all look after each other.

Celtic Way: Carl playing at Celtic ParkCarl playing at Celtic Park (Image: Herald and Times)

"I didn't know what to expect but I was taken aback that you could go out and supporters would recognise you. They were all so welcoming. When you go to a big club like Celtic - I had gone to Liverpool on loan and was there for three months - but when you come from Leicester and you end up at Celtic and you see the size of the place as well as the massive support, it really is a different level.

"I remember playing games with Celtic where I was a virtual spectator for 70 minutes and then I would have to make a match-winning save. You were always expected to produce."

Until Scots-Canadian businessman and entrepreneur Fergus McCann rolled in and saved the club from oblivion in 1994, Muggleton was also completely unaware of how perilously close Celtic had come to going down the tubes. Sure, Muggleton was in and around the club at the time but like many of Celtic's players they all existed on a day-to-day basis.

He said: "It was the time of fan protests and boycotts at Celtic. I distinctly remember the 'Back The Team, Sack The Board' banners that were on display inside and outside of the ground. The players used to get snippets of information like everybody else about the takeover and who was coming in. In the main, the players were all really in the dark about what was really going on.

"Takeover talk was rife in and around the dressing room and we all heard the rumours that the club could go under at one point. I don't know how close it was to that eventuality but Fergus McCann came in and revolutionised everything about Celtic as a football club. Thankfully he did.

"The players were made aware that it was a serious situation Celtic were in but because of the size of the club we all felt that it was never going to happen and it was not going to get to that stage. We always thought somebody would come in and save the club whether that be the supporters themselves or someone with major finances - but we were slowly made aware the club as a business could be shut down."

Ironically, the arrival of McCann signalled the end of Muggleton's short-term career in Glasgow. He was seen as part of the failed Macari regime and new boss Burns didn't fancy him as his number one.

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Harsh? Maybe. Muggleton is not one to hold a grudge though, especially, as he got to play in a Celtic side that included an elite midfielder in Paul McStay and a very gifted one in John Collins.

Muggleton said: "I would loved to have stayed up at Celtic longer. In terms of the new manager coming in, Tommy wanted to make changes and that was it. It was the politics within football as Macari brought me in and it was Tommy who parted company with me but I fully understood the reasons why. I still feel blessed and fortunate that I played for Celtic and the quality in the side was immense.

"We had the likes of McStay, Collins, Charlie Nicholas, Tom Boyd, Peter Grant, Mowbray and Gary Gillespie in the Celtic team that I played in. McStay was world class. He was experienced and he was a good leader and a good captain and he put a shift in on the training pitch. He was a great individual on and off the pitch. We had young guys like Simon Donnelly coming through the ranks too.

"I also remember trying to find a place to live and we got a flat and Collins even loaned me a bed-settee. All the lads rallied around us and it was a great experience."

Ironically Muggleton's greatest moment in his Celtic career in winning the Hamilton Cup which was an unusual post-season tournament held in, Hamilton, Canada, prior to the USA World Cup in 1994. It was a Scottish Festival sponsored by Guinness as Celtic, Hearts, Aberdeen alongside local club Montreal Impact all competed.

That was as good as it got for Mugglton although he did receive an education off the park from legendary Reds goalkeeper and character John 'Budgie' Burridge' and was also cheered to the rafters by a 2,000 plus crowd at a supporters function.

Muggleton said: "I saved two penalties in the shootout against Hearts to put us through to the final so that was a good moment for me. We were put up in the same hotel as the Aberdeen lads and it was good to mix with them and, what a character, the Aberdeen goalkeeper John Burridge. Some of his anecdotes and stories were priceless.

"We went to a supporters do in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. Over 2,000 Celtic supporters turned up. I was literally gobsmacked. It was incredible. That was when Celtic weren't doing well in Scotland. I was blown away by the reception from the supporters that night. I loved the recognition and being in the limelight

"It was a really frustrating time for the fans but they were always great with me. People always wanted to talk to you and have a conversation about what was going on in the background and what was happening at the club. Glasgow was a great experience."

Celtic Way:

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Muggleton harbours just one regret from his days playing north of the border and that was the fact that he never tasted playing in a Glasgow derby. He came close and was on the bench for the infamous 1-1 draw at Ibrox in April 1994 when Celtic fans were barred from Ibrox by the Light Blues hierarchy due to a spat between the two boards.

He said: "My one career regret from my Celtic days is that I never played against Rangers.

"I was on the bench for the game at Ibrox when John Collins scored when he bent the free-kick in and Celtic drew 1-1. It was the game where the Celtic supporters were banned by Rangers chairman David Murray from attending. It was an experience warming up in that match as you had the Rangers supporters being a 'friendly' bunch towards us as you can imagine.

"We got a police escort straight off the coach and into the ground. Everybody was getting dogs abuse and spat at and all sorts of stuff was going on. It was the definition of character building!"

Muggleton, who now runs a successful driving school in the Leicestershire area, looks back to this day with pride at his time in Scotland and he's even kept a few priceless souvenirs to savour. 

He said: "I still have a couple of the Celtic multi-coloured goalkeeper jerseys that I played in. I've got the club blazer and some bits and bobs.

"Playing for a club like Celtic is a career highlight. Playing in front of the old Jungle was amazing. The old stadium was incredible. The hardest part for me was learning all the songs!

"Celtic are a family and you do become part of the fabric of the club if you are fortunate enough to have played for them. It was bittersweet to leave but I can't speak highly and fondly of my time at the club even though they were in turmoil behind the scenes at the time I was there. There is not a single negative I can think of having played for the club.

"Just getting the chance to do that and become part of the Celtic family was an incredible experience. I would not swap that for the world. I was just disappointed that my Celtic career was so short. It will always be a badge of honour for me knowing that I represented and played for that football club.

"I still keep an eye on the results. It never leaves you."