Celtic have had near brushes with some top players before they made it on the European scene. Guys like Lewandowski and Drogba were scouted by the club once upon a time – but that’s a story for a different day.
There was a time when Celtic and Martin O’Neill had the temerity to go after one of the elites in our game back in 2004. The day Celtic offered World Cup and Champions League winner Rivaldo an audition to sign for Celtic.
Now Rivaldo was no spring chicken, but he was 32 and in great shape after leaving Milan – a short stint back in Brazil saw the player look to move back to Europe.
Celtic had just lost their legendary frontman Henrik Larsson and were looking for a marquee signing for the team and to life the support.
Rivaldo was available and all offers coming into him were being considered. Celtic were not for handing the Brazillian a contract from the off and invited the legendary footballer on trial during our pre-season
Asked about that time in his career back in 2020 – Rivaldo told SunSport he does recall the offers coming in:
“Yep, I remember that Celtic were interested in me back then.
“I do not remember if we ever met to discuss it. I think Celtic sent an offer, like many other clubs at that time.
“I had meetings at Manchester, London and Liverpool. Sir Alex Ferguson was interested as well as Tottenham, we even had a meeting with Daniel Levy and Liverpool, Gerard Houlier called me.
“We also had a meeting in Manchester with Bolton’s president and their manager Sam Allardyce.
“I suppose there was no direct contact with Celtic. There was an offer, but it didn’t go as far as the ones from Man United, Liverpool or Bolton.”
Asked if he heard about a potential trial – Rivaldo said:
“Yep, some British clubs offered me a trial, Celtic and Bolton spring to mind.
“At the time it surprised me because I was in good form when I left AC Milan, so I did not understand their offer and the objective of it.”
Rivaldo was confident if he had made the move to Celtic he could have carved out his own piece of Celtic history:
He said: “Replacing one of the biggest players in the history of the club wouldn’t have been easy, but I’m sure that I could have made my own story at Celtic if that was to be the case.
“After all I had some good years between 2004 and 2007 at Olympiakos, scoring many goals and earning some important individual and collective titles.”
It’s a near brush and rather fun to think of what could have been if Rivaldo had pulled on the famous Hoops. Celtic signed Henri Camara from Wolves on loan shortly after [Yikes].
Celtic and Martin O’Neill would go on to bag a World Cup winning Brazilian when the club signed Juninho. Unfortunately, the midfielder did not adjust to life in Scottish football and was a mismatch signing for the type of football Martin O’Neill liked to play.
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