Celtic, Rangers, Filip Bilbija and the missed trick - how things could have been so different for Bayern loanee Malik Tillman

Celtic were urged to sign Rangers loanee Malik Tillman before he made the switch to Ibrox.

Malik Tillman scored Rangers' crucial goal against Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.
Malik Tillman scored Rangers' crucial goal against Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.

The 20-year-old US internationalist is on a season-long deal at Ibrox from Bayern Munich and has made a strong impression already, scoring the crucial goal as Rangers overcame Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the Champions League third qualifying round match between the two.

However, Tillman was recommended to Old Firm rivals by their former academy player and ex-Hertha Berlin assistant Mark Fotheringham, who feels Ange Postecoglou’s men have missed a trick in not landing him.

“Tillman’s a brilliant talent. just wish he was at Celtic,” Fotheringham said. “I know their European scout and bumped into him last year at a Greuther Furth game. I told him all about Tillman. I actually said, ‘Mate, sign him blind. Trust me, he’s a great player who’d be perfect for Celtic’. He had been asking me about another player, a boy called Filip Bilbija who I’d coached at Ingolstadt.

Celtic were scouting Hamburg midfielder Filip Bilbija.

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"Now, he’s also a great talent and actually joined Hamburg a few months ago on a free transfer. I’m convinced after two seasons he’ll move to a Bayern or Red Bull Leipzig. Anyway, my conversation with him turned to Tillman. I don’t know what happened afterwards, whether he passed on my comments to the first-team management or made up his own mind on the boy. It doesn’t matter now.”

Fotheringham added in an interview with the Scottish Sun: "He actually said, ‘Yeah, we like him’. But I’m disappointed nothing happened. At the time, he seemed more interested in Bilbija. Fair enough, he’s quality too. But I believed Tillman was a big opportunity missed."