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  • Jozo: This is my most special day as a Celtic player

    Jozo: This is my most special day as a Celtic player

    By: Paul Cuddihy on 27 Apr, 2019 16:01

  • BILLY McNeill famously said that there’s a fairytale about Celtic, and on an emotional day when Paradise mourned the loss of the club's greatest ever captain, there was a fairytale to Celtic’s winning goal against Kilmarnock.

    Jozo Simunovic, who wears the No.5 jersey – a number synonymous with Cesar – scored the only goal of the game in the 67th minute. Not only that, but it was reminiscent of some great Billy McNeill goals from the past, as the Croatian defender rose highest at the back post and bulleted a header into the Killie net.

    The stadium erupted in celebration as the goalscorer looked to the sky… it was the perfect Paradise moment. And after the game, in a poignant gesture, Simunovic presented his No.5 jersey to Billy’s wife, Liz.

    Speaking of the 1-0 win and his goalscoring exploits, the 24-year-old said: “It is definitely my favourite moment in a Celtic jersey. When I scored, I didn’t even watch it on screen. I had something on my mind that I’m going to keep that to myself.

    “When they kicked off, I turned round I thought maybe it was the 67th minute, and it was. It made me even happier.

    “I believed it was going to be a special day for me because of the number 5, because of the turnout of supporters, and because of my team-mates and coaching staff. For everyone it meant a lot, but for me it was something special.

    “Everyone knows how big an impact Billy McNeill made at this club. He was a big leader and an amazing guy. Before the game, we had a meeting, and the manager said a few things about him and that motivated us.

    “Somebody will say I’m lucky but I would say I’m blessed. I believe in that. I’m a Christian and my biggest support comes from above.

    “I had a chat with Billy’s family after the game and that gave me even more reasons to remember all of this.”

    And Simunovic is also delighted with his run of games under Neil Lennon, with the defender having played in Celtic’s last five games, helping the Hoops keep five clean sheets in the process.

    “The manager keeps putting his trust in me,” he said. “He has had a chat with every player and he told me what he expects from me. I’m just following that. We keep keeping clean sheets and that’s how we need to keep going.

    “Of course, trophies are also special, but this goal and win today, for me, is something else.”

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