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John Hartson Reveals The Touching Words From Martin O'Neill That Made Him Join Celtic

John Hartson Reveals The Touching Words From Martin O'Neill That Made Him Join Celtic
By Mikey Traynor Updated

Celtic legend John Hartson sat down for a chat with Balls.ie earlier in the week and left us grinning ear to ear with his words on Martin O'Neill.

After stating that he thinks Brendan Rodgers is a wonderful appointment for the club, and that Rangers return to the top flight is a clear boost for Scottish football, the big told us how the two best players he ever played with were Denis Bergkamp and Henrik Larsson. Not bad eh? Naturally we asked him about his managers and who he ranked at the top. There was one name; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill.


As featured on the first episode of the Balls.ie Football Show, Hartson explained that after a number of clubs had pulled out of negotiations due to health and fitness issues, one call to Martin had Hartson on the next flight to Glasgow.

Martin is my best manager that I worked under because I'd failed four medicals before I came to Celtic.

I was very down, I was thinking I'm training, I was doing everything asked of me.. And I got a phone call from Martin O'Neill to say 'Look John, unless you've got a hole in your heart, I'm gonna sign you.'

So when he sort of gave me that line, I just thought this guy wants me to play for him. I went up to Glasgow, and I had to wait a bit, about six weeks to get into the team, but once I got in the team I never came out.

Now that is man management.

Hartson was looking for someone who would have faith in him as a striker, and O'Neill had that and more. John continued to explain how highly he regards the current Ireland boss and is still good friends with O'Neill to this day.

As if that wasn't enough to make us smile, he also elaborated on a story that had him placed in Spain for the 2002 World Cup, and wearing an Ireland jersey in an Irish pub while the boys in green took on Germany.


I was down an alley way [in Puerto Banus, Marbella] right, with my family, and I said to them right I'm going off to watch the game. I think I had my Republic of Ireland shirt on, I was with Mick Harford, and Niall Quinn nodded one down...

It was an Irish pub, near the Irish market in Marbella, and the place went mental.

You can listen to the interview with John Hartson in full on the Balls.ie Football Show below, and be sure to look out every Monday for a new episode featuring more special guests.

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