Mike Haughney

Mike Haughney, Celtic and Scotland footballer

Born: 10 December, 1925, in Paisley

Died: 22 February, 2002, in Peoria, Illinois, aged 76

MIKE Haughney played as a forward and right-back for Celtic FC in a football career spanning from 1949 to 1957.

Football flowed through his very veins. His uncle, Andrew Haughney, played, albeit briefly, for Aberdeen FC, and his great-uncle, Peter Dowds, was one of the first Celtic players.

Born in Paisley, Haughney grew up in the mining village of Dalkeith, outside Edinburgh, and was educated at St David’s School. He soon took to sport as his field in which to stand out from his seven siblings, and at an early stage came to the attention of his teachers and coaches as a youth of exceptional promise.

The Second World War intervened, and in his late teens and early twenties he rose to the rank of captain in the Commando unit of the Seaforth Highlanders.

In 1949, he was signed by Celtic from Newtongrange Star, training with the Parkhead team part-time while also studying for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Edinburgh. "Haugh-nae bother!" declared a newspaper headline reporting on his debut game with Celtic: in the first match of the 1949-50 League Cup, he scored the winning goal against Rangers in front of a crowd of 70,000.

He ended his first season as joint top scorer with John McPhail, with a tally of 12 goals; but his true position was to be as a defender, not a striker. After a period of injury, he was reinstated as right-back, and blossomed in the new position. He also excelled as a redoubtable penalty-taker, scoring 23 out of 25 of Celtic’s penalties between 1953 and 1957.

Team-mates over those years included Bobby Collins, Bertie Peacock, Charlie Tully, Neil Mochan and Jock Stein, and together they fought many a battle against Scottish and European teams.

In 1954 he was awarded his first full international cap, in a 2-4 defeat at Hampden against England - the same year that Celtic won the League and Cup double for the first time in 40 years.

He is also remembered for scoring the only (somewhat controversial) goal against Hearts in the whole of their campaign for the Scottish Cup in 1955-56, when in the final the Edinburgh team beat Celtic 3-1.

A year later, Haughney quit football, and Scotland. In 1952, he had married Winifred Ross, and together they emigrated to America in 1957 to build a new life. He took up employment with a bakery firm, and with his characteristic blend of perseverance, intelligence and good humour, gradually worked his way up to an executive position.

Very much a family man, Mike Haughney was devoted to his wife and children, and then his four grandchildren, and always kept in close touch with his brothers and sisters, sharing his gentle, wryly humorous observations on American life with his Scottish family. He was active in his local church, and well known in the community, where he lived at Palos Heights, not far from Chicago.

On 7 February, Mike and Win Haughney celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary together. Shortly afterwards, he fell ill and passed away peacefully at the home of his son in Peoria, surrounded by his family.

He is survived by his wife, children Mike and Sandie; and four grandchildren.