Mark Burchill will join a host of former Scotland players representing the Tartan Army at this summer’s Star Sixes.
The first ever competitive tournament for world-renowned former international footballers will take place between July 13-16 at London’s iconic 02 Arena.
Scotland will be joined at the 12-team tournament by the likes of England, Brazil and Germany.
Dominic Matteo will lead the 10-man squad who go up against old foes England in the group stages, along with Spain and Mexico.
Three Celtic players make Matteo’s 10-man squad – Mark Burchill, Jackie McNamara and Simon Donnelly. Rab Douglas, Christian Dailly, Don Hutchison, Neil McCann, Barry Ferguson, Paul Dickov and Matteo himself make up the rest of the squad.
Burchill Up Front For Scots
Striker Burchill made a sensational start to his Celtic career, scoring eight times in 19 appearances in his debut season. He scored a total of 20 league goals in just 17 starts across his first three seasons and also netted the fastest hat-trick in European club competition in just four minutes against Jeunesse Esch of Luxembourg in 2000.
He moved south of the border to Portsmouth after increased competition from Mark Viduka, Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton but a serious knee injury restricted his appearances on the south coast. A brief spell at Hearts was followed by a move to Dunfermline Athletic in 2005 where he revived his career and rediscovered his old goalscoring form.
McNamara Relishing Tournament
McNamara played for the Hoops for 10 years after joining the club from Dunfermline in 2005. He won the PFA Scotland Players’ Player of the Year in 1998 and helped the club to four league titles, three Scottish Cups and four League Cups.
McNamara admits his team will once again be outsiders going into the tournament, but is excited about the challenge that lies ahead.
“We’ll be the underdogs as usual, especially against England, but we’ll give it a right good go,” he was quoted on the tournament’s official website.
“There are some really top teams taking part – France look strong, so do Spain, and England have some good players.
“But we’ve got the spine of the team that played in the 1998 World Cup and there are some good lads in our squad, too.”
Donnelly Looking To England Match
Donnelly scored 32 league goals in 125 appearances for Celtic in the 1990s and was at first compared to the great Kenny Dalglish. He went on to have stints with Sheffield Wednesday, St Johnstone, Dunfermline and Partick Thistle but his career was undermined by a succession of injuries and he made just 10 appearances for Scotland at international level. Donnelly, like Burchill, will look back and think he could have achieved far more at Celtic.
The Tartan Army will kick off their campaign against Mexico on Thursday July 13, before tackling Steven Gerrard’s England on the Friday and then Spain on the Saturday.
There will be some stellar names competing at the inaugural tournament, including the likes of Roberto Carlos (Brazil), Alessandro Del Piero (Italy), Carlos Puyol (Spain) and Robert Pires (France).
But Donnelly is particularly looking forward to facing Michael Owen in the second game and knows he will have to be at peak fitness against the Old Enemy.
“I played against Michael Owen for Celtic, he was at Liverpool and it was one of his first games as he was breaking through,” said Donnelly.
“He scored against us up at Celtic Park, so it will be good to pit our wits against these guys again.
“There will also be guys there, like Steven Gerrard, who have just retired, so I imagine they’ll be quite sharp.”
High Hopes For Star Sixes
The top two countries in each of the three four-team groups, plus the two best third-placed teams, will progress to the quarter-finals of the Star Sixes.
Each player at the tournament will be a fully capped former international, and names will continue to be announced in the coming weeks.
Arenas in Berlin, Istanbul, Beijing, Sydney, Miami and Seattle are also set to host future editions of the Star Sixes, and the tournament is due to return to the 02 in 2019.
The organisers will hope that a successful July tournament will see the Star Sixes become ingrained as the premier event for international greats.