Posted on Wednesday, 16th May 2012 by lordofthewing
I was in swithering whether or not that the man from Oldenzaal was a cult hero or a player whose contribution to Celtic is often overlooked. I went with the later.
Any player that scores 38 league goals during two league winning seasons is more than a footnote and it’s only injuries plus what some would call a not pleasing on the eye style of play that is the reason he isn’t more widely regarded and missed.
Jan signed for £3.4m in August 2006 from PSV Eindhoven. This was a time when we could afford Champions League proven strikers and fully fledged Dutch Internationalists who were reaching the peak of their careers.
His debut was a sign of things to come. One down – to a Scott Brown goal – he came on during the second period to swing the game in our favour. He scored what was to prove the winning goal after Aiden McGeady had hit the post. The big man was the first to react to the rebound – he came alive in those situations – and slammed the ball home.
Then it happened. The grin that would have brought light to the darkest polar winter night. A joyous reaction of a player who loved his job and would never tire of the feeling his job gave him.
It was a heart warming reaction that we would see 44 times in 108 games.
A few weeks into career saw him score his first European goal for Celtic when he made Rio Ferdinand look foolish long before Roy Hodgson ever did. This goal disproves the lack of style theory so many have.
The collection of goals on the Celtic Viewer will remind you that he was a fantastic finsher and the sharpness of mind that only a natural striker can have. Off course for someone 6ft 3in he was pretty decent in the air but had that knack of finding space when others saw none.
In addition to that strikers instinct he had the genius of certain Nakamura trying to find him with cross balls.
The other thing that he is never given credit for was that he was Dutch meaning that he didn’t need a harpoon and a fishing net to trap a football. Add to that the very un-Dutch unselfish attribute that was part of the game then you had a player who was nothing short of valuable when fully fit (see his 51 goal season partnership with Scott McDonald).
Yes, he always seemed to be returning from knocks and his injury proneness saw the club not take the option of his final season.
Still, for a half-fit, injury prone, slow as a elephant in quicksand player he didn’t half score some important goals in what will be remembered as a successful period for the club as a whole.
His last minute winner against Inverness, which saw him get sent off for celebrating in the crowd, his double in the Scottish Cup Semi Final against St Johnstone, diving header against Barcelona, last minute winner against R*ngers and the league winning goal at Tannadice.
In this case first impressions lasted. My favourite moment was his debut goal. It summed him up. Enjoyable.
Jan Vennegoor Of Hesselink won two Leagues, a Scottish Cup and a League Cup. He left with more than medals.
“I truly believe I played for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Not too many people can say that and I’m proud to be one of the chosen few. I have treasured memories of my time at Celtic. When the day comes to reflect on my career, I will only have warm feelings about the club.”
That time has come.