Celtic legend Lubo Moravcik: Dr Jozef Venglos was right, Parkhead move made me fall in love with football again

Lubomir Moravcik has paid a heartfelt tribute to his mentor, Dr Jozef Venglos, who re-ignited his love for football by taking him to Celtic.

Lubomir Moravcik with new manager Dr Jozef Venglos after signing for Celtic
Lubomir Moravcik with new manager Dr Jozef Venglos after signing for Celtic

The 84-year-old died on Tuesday, and fan favourite Moravcik added his comments to the growing number of tributes to the manager, who picked up the Slovakian for a bargain £300,000 and brought him to Scotland.

It proved a shrewd signing, both for the club and for the player with Moravcik revealing the coach’s influencial role in his life – and how Celtic kept him involved in the game.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Moravcik said: “My condolences go out to Dr Jo's family and their loved ones. I am deeply saddened by the news as I have known him for almost 35 years. It has left me heartbroken. I sat and watched footage of us together during our days in football and the many happy moments we shared.”

Moravcik (centre) alongside Fergus McCann and Dr Venglos after signing for Celtic in 1998 (Picture: SNS)

After first meeting during World Cup qualifiers for Italia 90, Venglos and Moravick combined to take Czechoslovakia to the tournament and teamed up again in 1998 at Celtic Park, when the maverick midfielder’s career had stalled.

But that first encounter was the turning point in Morvacik’s career when he shared “one of the most important conversations of my life, something that changed me as a footballer and as a person” with his mentor.

“He explained to me what I needed to do to become a better footballer, what I needed to do to bring more maturity and consistency into my game,” Moravcik said. “He reminded me of the sacrifices I was going to have to make to get to the very top. He knew I was capable of so much more and didn't want to see my talent go to waste.

“It was a turning point in my life. That open and honest guidance from Dr Jo was exactly what I needed at that time.”

Moravcik kicked on to St Etienne, Bastia and then Duisburg in Germany but, with football going flat Venglos returned to re-ignite his love for the game and team up again at Celtic. It proved a successful move.

“To be honest, I was thinking about giving up football at that stage,” Moravcik revealed. “I was not happy in Germany. I was 33 and didn't think I had much of a future in the game.

“But Dr Jo was the manager of Celtic and asked me if I wanted to join him and play for a massive football club. He trusted my ability and told me it would be perfect for my career and make me fall in love with football again. He assured me it would be a successful move. Well, he was right.

“Celtic was exactly what I needed. I enjoyed many happy times at the football club and even now, 23 years on, I still have a fantastic relationship with the club and the supporters.

“I have been extremely fortunate to have Dr Jo in my life. He was a great person, a great teacher and a great mentor. He was well mannered and humble. He enriched my life in many, many ways.

“I also got to know his wife, Eva, and she is a lovely woman. They are all such lovely people.

“I will miss him very much as will the game of football.”

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.