I won the league with Celtic but I didn’t play football until I was 19

I won the league with Celtic but I didn’t play football until I was 19
I won the league with Celtic but I didn’t play football until I was 19

FRANK McAVENNIE will never forget the moment he pulled on the green and white Hoops for the very first time.

But while the former St Mirren, West Ham and Scotland star always dreamed of playing for his boyhood club Celtic – he never believed he could make it a reality during his teenage years.

Frank McAvennie always loved the HoopsCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
The wild character was known for his antics off the pitch before he moved to CelticCredit: Andrew Barr – The Sun Glasgow
He was immortalized by Scottish comedian Jonathan Watson on the Hogmanay footie sketch show Only An Excuse

McAvennie, now 64, was a late bloomer in football and only signed his first professional deal at the age of 20 following a short spell in the junior leagues with Johnstone Burgh.

I have signed for St Mirren in 1980 and the rest as they say is history as he went on to enjoy a successful stint down south with West Ham before returning to glasgow to sign for Celtic in 1987.

But just a few years before that, McAvennie didn’t have his eyes set on becoming a footballer and found his passion cheering on the team from the stands as a fan instead.

Speaking to the open Goal podcast in 2017, he recalled: “I never played football until I was 19. I played in the primary school where I grew up, I played two years in primary school school and we won a couple of trophies.

“In the days back then, every team played on Saturdays whether it was juniors, amateurs or professionals.

“I never played, I was always going to see Celtic every week. That was all I did, home and away, with my dad and uncle.”

McAvennie spent his Saturdays touring Scotland with his Familia watching Celtic.

Without the football, he would be left with little to do but luckily for him, the Hoops were in action most weeks.

Who knows what he would have got up to if a game was cancelled.

But the Celtic hero’s life and career could have gone very differently if one match hadn’t been postponed when he was 19.

Watch Old Firm heroes Frank McAvennie and Gordon Dalziel team up as they star in madcap music video

He continued: “Before there was underground heating, a Celtic game was canceled one week and I’m walking through Glasgow and some of my pals saw me and asked me to come play.

“I went away and played and the manager said he’d get me a couple of beers after it.

“That was my first pay, I was easily bribed!

“There were five scouts watching a guy who I was playing against. I played a couple of games but the scouts were watching this boy that day.

“I had not a bad game and they were all wanting me. Junior clubs wanted to sign me and professional clubs asked me to come on trial.”

Partick Thistle were the first team in for him.

It gave young McAvennie the chance to showcase his skills in front of Lisbon Lion, with Bertie Auld the manager of the Jags at the time.

Frank McAvennie won the league title and Scottish Cup with CelticCredit: Getty Images – Getty

His trial didn’t go to plan as the Hoops icon turned him down.

But it gave him the motivation to prove Auld wrong and he believes that was the turning point for him as a young footballer.

He added “I went on trial at Partick Thistle and wee Bertie Auld told me I wasn’t good enough.

“That’s when I realized I was going to play football because I knew I was better than the players in the team he had.

“That was my kickstart.

“I had ginger hair and I was so thin so it was one of them but I went to St Mirren and played one good game before facing Morton and I got sent off.

Read more on the Scottish Sun

“I thought I had blown it but the manager Jim Clooney said ‘we knew you had the ability, we didn’t know if you had the bottle’ so for some reason I got sent off and that was the reason he signed me.”


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