Football

The Celtic Boys Of Seville 2003 - And Where Are They Now?

The Celtic Boys Of Seville 2003 - And Where Are They Now?

Today marks the 17th anniversary of Celtic's UEFA Cup final loss to Porto. Here's the team from that day, and what they are doing now.

Celtic's great charge in the UEFA Cup of 2003 is never far from any Celtic fans mind ahead of big European nights. Martin O'Neill's spirited outfit did battle with Jose Mourinho's Porto over 120 tense and gruelling minutes on a dramatic and emotional night in Seville.

Here are the men who fought hard that night.

Goalkeeper: Robert 'Rab' Douglas

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Douglas was Celtic's first choice goalkeeper for almost the whole duration of the Martin O'Neill era. He maintained this position despite his propensity to throw wobblers in Old Firm matches. Yes, he regularly gave Rangers fans much to cheer about - especially towards the end of O'Neill's reign.

O'Neill told him towards the end of the 2004-05 season that he would not be first choice for the following season. He upped and offed to Leicester on a free that summer. After leaving Dundee United on rather bad terms in the summer of 2013, he was branded a 'disrespectful liar' by manager John Brown when he went to the press with tales of his mistreatment.

Where now?: Douglas was still playing as recently as 2018, finishing his career with Arbroath as a 46-year old. He declared for bankruptcy back in 2017 after his investment in a film production company was deemed to be a tax avoidance scheme.

Wing Back:  Didier Agathe

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Agathe was born in Reunion, a small French commune off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. It was the place where Roger Milla 'retired' to and played beach football for a couple of years before he was brought back to play Italia 90.

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Agathe signed for Celtic in 2000, after impressing during a season at Raith Rovers. He stayed at Celtic until the 2006, when he left for Villa. He left Villa Park barely leaving a trace and returned to play for St. Pierroise in Reunion. His hometown club.

Where now?: He currently runs a football academy in Reunion.

Centre Back: Joos Valgaeren

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A Belgian international who spent most of his early career in the Dutch League, he transferred to Celtic in 2000 from Roda JC. He was a reliable presence in the Celtic defence during the early 2000's and he was an integral part of the UEFA Cup team of 2003.

Along with Johan Mjallby and Bobby Petta, he got drawn into a frank exchange of views with some bouncers on a team bonding session in Newcastle in 2002.

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This quickly turned into a frank exchange of boxes and the gang of them ended up spending a night in the cells.

Like many O'Neill players, he was not to Strachan's tastes and left in 2006.

Where now?: He retired in 2010 after injury laden spells at Club Brugge and FC Emmen. His last public appearance was, like so many ex-Celtic players, at the Stilyan Petrov charity match.

Centre Back: Bobo Balde

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An uncomplicated but iconic defender Balde was much loved by the Celtic fanbase and earned the Player of the Year award for the 2002-03 season. Balde had a strangely endearing quality which made him popular. His name was also terrific fun to say.

Balde stayed at Celtic until 2009, though his appearances during the Strachan era were few and far between.

Where now?: He was declared technically bankrupt in 2009. Joined lower league French club Arles Avignon in 2011, before eventually retiring in 2016 at the age of 41.

Centre Back: Johan Mjallby

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Was signed not by O'Neill but by Dr. Jozef Venglos in the summer of 1998. Mjallby was one of Celtic's strongest players in the glory days captaining the side and becoming a mainstay of the Swedish national team. Left for Levante in 2004.

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Where now?: Having initially acted as coach at both Celtic and Bolton under Neil Lennon, he has now stepped into the hot seat himself. Mjallby is currently the manager of FC Stockholm in the Swedish second division, having also had stops at Västerås SK and Gefle IF.

Wing Back: Alan Thompson

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Another of O'Neill's men, he was a significant figure throughout the early 2000s, scoring many important goals in Old Firm games and European nights.

When his boss moved on, Gordon Strachan swept into town. Once more proving he had almost diametrically opposing views about footballer's abilities to O'Neill, Strachan didn't much fancy Thompson and he was condemned to a season of hoping to get onto at least the bench. Left for Leeds United in 2007.

Where now?: Thompson and Lennon may not be the best of pals (we're assuming, who knows?) after the former was sacked as first team coach in 2012 over fears about his 'lifestyle'. He got work again with Birmingham City in 2014, working as part of Lee Clark's management team and the pair would also have  spells together at Blackpool and Bury, which ended in 2017.

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Midfield: Paul Lambert

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The captain and the most decorated player in the team at that point, he arrived at Celtic in 1997 after picking up nothing much at Borussia Dortmund - just the Champions League.

He stayed at Celtic for eight seasons, winning four League titles, before moving on to Livingston at the age of 36.

Where now?: Lambert has been doing the rounds in the lower echelons of the Premier League and Championship in recent years and currently finds himself at Ipswich Town, who are in tenth place on League One.

Midfield: Neil Lennon

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An O'Neill man to the core, he arrived there from Leicester in 2000. Lennon is probably as Celtic a person as it possible for anyone to be. He is Celtic in the same way Ian Paisley was a protestant. He thus became a hate figure for the other side. A dangerous thing to be it turned out.

He played at Celtic Park for seven years, winning five League titles.

Where now?: Having had plenty of experience during his first managerial stint in Glasgow, Lennon has already won two titles since his return to the club at the start of 2019. Some going.

Midfield: Stiliyan Petrov

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Although signed by John Barnes, he became a Martin O'Neill favourite leaving for Aston Villa with his manager in 2006. He was a legend at Celtic, winning the SFA Young Player of the Year award in O'Neill's first season and the club's overall player of the Year award in 2005.

Where now?:  With his Leukaemia in remission, he joined Aston Villa as Youth Development Officer in 2012 but left in 2013 to spend more time with his family. He would return to the club for a brief stint as First Team Coach back in 2015. Still plays five-a-side.

Centre Forward: Chris Sutton

After a comically poor spell at Chelsea, lightened further by Garth Crooks asking him whether an England call-up beckoned after he scored the final goal in a hammering of a lower league side in the FA Cup (to be fair Sutton had the good grace to laugh) Sutton found sanctuary in Glasgow and scored relatively heavily up there. He won four League titles in his time there, although he played infrequently in his final season there in 2005-06.

Strachan was of course the manager for that season and didn't really want Sutton around the place.

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Where now?: Was declared bankrupt in 2014 after being stung by a multi-million pound fraud scandal. Sutton is a regular pundit on BBC, BT Sport, and Premier Sports.

Centre Forward: Henrik Larsson

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The undisputed legend of that Celtic team, he scored and scored at Celtic Park and won and won. Then he went to Barcelona and won some more, including the Champions League. He won a Premier League medal for his short loan spell at Old Trafford.

Where now?: Larsson has had an unfulfilling career in management. He got his first job at Landskrona BoIS, before moving to Falkenbergs FF and having two spells at Helsingborgs, the most recent of which ended in 2019 after he was verbally abused on social media after the club lost to a third-tier side.

Subs:

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Jackie McNamara

Defender who'd been around since the mid-90s, McNamara came on with fifteen minutes left. He left Celtic in acrimonious circumstances in 2005.

Where now?: The long-serving Celtic defender moved into management after retirement, having spells at Partick Thistle, Dundee United, and York City. Having left York in 2016, he took up a role as a 'football consultant' at Dunfermline Athletic in 2019.

Ulrik Laursen 

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One of the less celebrated players to feature that night, he came on after 64 minutes, with the score at 2-2. Played little in the following seasons.

He did not enjoy his time at Celtic, denouncing the place as 'full of egotists' during his time there, in an interview last year.

Where now?: Laursen was content to leave football behind when he quit in 2010 and now works as a physiotherapist.

Shaun Maloney

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He came on for the second half of injury time that night, playing for Chicago Fire in the US after spending the bulk of his career at Celtic, save for an unhappy spells at Villa and Wigan.

Where now?: Having scored the winner against Ireland in Glasgow in November of 2014 (and five goals in that campaign), Maloney would retire in 2017 due to a hernia injury. Having originally taken a coaching role at Celtic, he has been working as part of Roberto Martinez's Belgium backroom team since 2018.

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