5. Eyal Berkovic
After carving himself a respectable career in the Premiership with Southampton and West Ham, Israeli midfielder Eyal Berkovic was signed by John Barnes in 1999 for a then club record fee of £5.75 million. With the Celtic manager promising attractive football, a creative midfielder in the mould of Berkovic had the fans purring with delight. It was even noted that Berkovic had told Harry Redknapp, then West Ham manager, that he wanted to leave for Celtic because he had supported them as a boy!
Judging by his performances at Celtic, I think there are few Celtic supporters who would believe that. One of the biggest disappointments in the history of the club. He was an instant hit with the fans, and a double against Rangers, albeit in a 4-2 defeat, justified this. But soon things took a turn for the worst. With the loss of the talismanic Henrik Larsson with a broken leg, Celtic lost momentum and began to draw and lose games unnecessarily, and Berkovic, influential and creative in his early days at the club, seemed lazy and
Berkovic was in and out of the side under Dalglish, but when Martin O’Neill took charge, he was on his way, firstly to Blackburn on loan then to Manchester City for £1.5 million. At times, Berkovic showed signs of being capable of being a great Celtic player, but his attitude and demeanour were to be his undoing and he is now only remembered as an expensive flop.
4. Regi Blinker
Upon selling unsettled Italian striker Paulo Di Canio to Sheffield Wednesday, manager Wim Jansen received £4.5 million-plus Regi Blinker. The Dutch winger spent 3 unsuccessful years at Parkhead, becoming notorious with the fans with his unconvincing and ineffective displays. To say he was infuriating would be something of an understatement; he was a talented and skilful winger but just seemed to lack the courage to show it. It seemed that the prospect of playing for a massive club like Celtic had petrified him, sucking all the confidence from him.
His first season was one of frustration and success, as he would pick up League Cup and title winners medals, and be part of the team that stopped 10-in-a-row, but in terms of his performances, he simply was not good enough to wear the colours of Celtic. For every moment of brilliance, there were thousands of moments of ineffectiveness. Despite making money for Di Canio, fans were furious that he had partly been swapped with someone they did not see fit to fill his shoes.
Comparisons with Di Canio are unfair due to their different roles, but whereas Di Canio was a fine player for the Hoops, Blinker was a disaster. He gradually faded out of the team over the next 2 seasons and was eventually released to join Dutch side RBC Roosendaal in 2000. A likeable character , Blinker did try hard for the Hoops, but he failed terribly.
3. Mo Camara
Gordon Strachan’s first signing at Celtic. A free transfer from Burnley, where he had spent 2 years as a marauding left-back who tormented opposition defences with lung-bursting runs and inch-perfect crosses, as well as a decent defensive record. He seemed like a decent signing, and indeed his pre-season performances suggested so, but when it came to competitive games he was all at sea.
His début against Artmedia Bratislava would be the match for which most fans would remember him. He was torn apart defensively by the Slovakian side’s strikers and barely looked capable of attacking during a humiliating 5-0 thrashing for the Bhoys. After his showing, many fans were unwilling to forgive him, and quite rightly so, for his performances scarcely teetered beyond average. Injuries curtailed his season and he was replaced more competently by Mark Wilson and Ross Wallace.
Ended a season from hell with a title winners medal and made 1 more poor showing on the opening day of the 2006/07 season, where he was as woeful as usual, before being sold to Derby County days later. He flopped at Derby and would later return to Scotland to play for St Mirren where he also would flop. Always insisted he lost his place in the team when he was starting to find his feet but in all honesty, Camara was lucky he wasn’t released after his first few showings in the green and white hoops.