George Connelly

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George Connelly
Personal information
Full name George Connelly
Date of birth (1949-03-01) 1 March 1949 (age 66)
Place of birth Fife, Scotland
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1968–1976 Celtic 136 (5)
1976–1977 Falkirk 8 (2)
Total 144 (7)
National team
1970–1973 Scottish League XI 4 (1)
1973 Scotland 2 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

George Connelly (born 1 March 1949) is a Scottish former international footballer who played professionally with Celtic and Falkirk.

Career[edit]

Born in Fife, Connelly was a technically accomplished footballer, who could play with distinction anywhere in the outfield, although his most common positions were left half and inside forward.[1] He signed for Celtic from Tulliallan Juniors in March 1966 and as a teenager was noted for his fine ball control. This was first publicly displayed when he was sent out to entertain the crowd at Parkhead before a European tie later that year. He was considered by many to have the potential to be a world class player – as influential in British football as Beckenbauer was in the German game.[2] Having broken into the first team in 1968, Connelly is remembered primarily for two goals. Just before half time in the 1969 Scottish Cup Final against Rangers, he coolly dispossessed John Greig on the edge of the box, evaded the Rangers' skipper's recovery attempt, rounded the goalkeeper before slipping the ball into the empty net. This goal made it 3–0 to Celtic and ended any hopes of a Rangers revival.[2]

In 1970, in a game that was referred to by the contemporary media as the football "Battle of Britain", he scored for Celtic in a 1–0 win against the English champions Leeds United. His first-minute strike in the first leg of the Champions' Cup semi final at Elland Road helped Celtic progress to their second European Cup final, against Feyenoord.

Retirement[edit]

Connelly was earmarked as the natural successor to Billy McNeill at the heart of the Celtic defence and most likely as captain too. In all probability, the same destiny beckoned in the Scottish national team.[citation needed] However, a series of personal problems that have never been fully publicised led to him periodically disappearing from Celtic Park. After the fifth such walk-out in 1975 he didn't return.[2] In a recent interview he has claimed that his poor wage at Celtic was the main reason for his eventual Parkhead departure.

In a recent book he also pointed at how unhappy he was with his marriage at the time as another factor. The fact Tommy Docherty approached him to sign for Manchester United, which he rejected as 'fitba' just was not in his head at the time, shows it was not only a case of money. The set of players who George came through with were known as the Quality Street gang. This group included among them Kenny Dalglish, David Hay, Lou Macari, Danny McGrain and Jimmy Quinn. When David Hay left the club in 1974 he did not feel as comfortable at the club he loves which will have been another deciding factor in walking away from his life at Celtic.

In nine years with the Glasgow club Connelly made 254 first team appearances,[2] scored 13 goals and won two Scotland caps, in 1974. He played for Falkirk for three months in 1976 then reverted to Junior status with Sauchie.[1] During this time he worked as a taxi-driver.[2]

He returned to Celtic Park for the first time since his walk out to do the half time draw during the AC Milan fixture in 2006 in the UEFA Champions League second round. This is somewhat of a mirror image to his first appearance at Celtic Park where he was the half time show at the age of 16.

Legacy[edit]

Though long since retired from the game, the fame of George Connelly's football skills still prompts articles in the press lamenting the loss to Scottish football of such a talent and contrasting how he lives now to what might have been on the international football stage.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lamming, Douglas (1987). A Scottish Soccer Internationalists Who's Who, 1872–1986 (Hardback). Hutton Press. (ISBN 0-907033-47-4). 
  2. ^ a b c d e Unintentional Man of Mystery, Bryan Cooney, The Sunday Herald, 2006.

External links[edit]