Twenty years ago today Tommy Burns’ Celtic signed Pierre van Hooijdonk for £1.2million from NAC Breda. In 1995 the big Dutchman was brought in to lead the line for Celtic and to try and bring silverware to the club, something which hadn’t been done since 1989.
On his debut the striker got on the scoresheet against Hearts with an absolute thunderbolt of a shot which left Celtic fans buzzing about their latest acquisition. He went on to score a famous goal in the Scottish Cup Final against Airdrie at Hampden to bring home Celtic’s first trophy in 6 years. The player admitting after the game that he didn’t realise how significant a moment it was till he seen Peter Grant in tears embracing his manager Tommy Burns at the end of the match. The goal is etched in Celtic’s history and rightly so.
In Pierre’s first full season he scored 32 goals in all competitions, the player going above and beyond the expectations of his manager. But it was in the 96/97 season when he would team up with Jorge Cadete and Paolo DiCanio which would be his most memorable season. The front men known as the three amigos frightened the life out of every defence in Scottish Football. Their attacking play a joy to behold, unfortunately the potent partnership would not see Celtic lift the League title. Celtic losing out again to their bitter rivals Rangers (1872) who we now know gained many financial advantages they never could afford in their 90’s dominance.
Pierre’s Celtic career did not end on good terms with the club. During wage negotiations with he went on radio and slated his deal of £7,000pw stating it was maybe “good enough for a homeless person“. A comment that didn’t go down well with our then Chairman Fergus McCann. His time came to an end on a sour note but his impact during his time at the club cannot be denied.
He scored 56 goals in 92 appearances for the club and will be fondly remembered by Celtic fans the world over.
Hail Hail Big Pierre.