Friday, July 3, 2009

Berkovic lifts the lid on racism at Celtic Park

"Celtic was a big mistake for me, that's for sure. Celtic never understood me , and I for sure never understood them. It was a club with an image which was full of its own self importance and role in the world. The club was going through a troubled time and when manager John Barnes got the sack, my days there were numbered. It's hard to say this but I feel that I have to point out that Celtic, certainly at that time did not react well to people who they did not consider were 'one of them". I am Jewish and proud of my religion and background, Barnes and Ian Wright felt the same as me, and they were quickly ostracised when results went against us. After one midweek game which we lost, Wright and Barnes were subject to really disgraceful racial abuse in the car park. It was at that point I knew I had to get out. I found it really disconcerting having to play in front of a huge crowd where many fans had PLO flags and celebrated terrorist actions. They were backing an organization which, after all, wanted the destruction of the State of Israel. How could I give one hundred percent for such a club with an ethos like that?
The Celtic Rangers games were utter madness, and I had to remind myself for which club I was playing! I always stood up for the sovereignty of the nation and the right of law. Celtic seemed to be going for the opposite, by supporting terrorist groups from Spain, Ireland, the Middle East and Africa. It was crazy!".

As if to underline Berkovic's anger, was the fact that shortly after his departure from Celtic, (the man who released him) Martin O'Neill signed John Hartson who had assaulted the slight Israeli at a training session when both men played for West Ham. Even a quick glance on youtube years later, does nothing to dampen the sheer brutality of the unpremeditated attack on Bekovic.

"The signing of somebody like John Hartson by Celtic did not come as a surprise to me. It was a marriage made in heaven. The fans finally had found somebody who embodied everything they stood for, and I for one was not astonished that he went onto become a cult figure at their club."

As for tomorrow's derby in Glasgow, Berkovic will be tuning in to watch the game though it comes as no surprise at all to learn that he will leaning towards the blue side of Glasgow tomorrow. Berkovic, like him or loathe him, usually gets the big decisions right.
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