McCann knocks three amigos

With all the relish a dedicated elderly sadist might be expected to muster, Fergus McCann cheerfully opened old wounds around Celtic Park yesterday, with some deft slashing aimed at his old adversaries Paolo di Canio, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Jorge Cadete, otherwise known as the three amigos.

In a bravura if unorthodox public relations performance, the former Celtic chief executive chose a "Big Tribute" to Tom Boyd in Celtic View magazine to launch his latest attack on the "egocentric under-achievers, mediocre moaners and greedy rascals" who used to haunt the home dressing room.

It is only last year that the Bermuda-based McCann threatened to sue Di Canio, following allegations in the Italian’s autobiography that the former chief executive had broken promises over "rewards" from the club.

At the time, McCann responded to this criticism by calling both Di Canio and Van Hooijdonk "disreputable" and accused them of spreading false and damaging statements about the club.

The feud between the men, however, dates back to at least 1997, when Di Canio issued an open letter to fans which read: "If you want to win trophies you cannot go about just cashing in; you must also pay out, particularly when you have promised to do so."

These remarks were regrettable according to McCann, who, by the end of that season had already fallen out with both Cadete and Van Hooijdonk.

The Portuguese forward had alleged he was owed money after he was signed from Sporting Lisbon while the Dutchman had stirred up a protracted argument with the club over a supposed verbal promise made to him about money.

However, it was Di Canio’s apparent ingratitude which particularly rankled with McCann. Signed from AC Milan, the striker had been installed as the club’s highest-earning player and during his 15-month spell at Parkhead enjoyed substantial fringe benefits, including free airline travel to Italy six times a year. The Italian also left unpaid a 900 bill for services received at a hotel.

These past spats have not been forgotten by McCann. Having in the past expressed his "outrage" and a desire to teach Di Canio "a lesson", yesterday he moved his criticisms forward.

Compelled, he said, to encourage Celtic fans to attend the testimonial game, McCann added that Boyd was a great sportsman who had captained the team in good times and bad.

He went on: "And he has done it in a way that commands all our respect and admiration. Over a period where the dressing room has had its share of egocentric underachievers, mediocre moaners and greedy rascals manipulating the media and emotions of the fans for their own ends, Tom’s stature rose above all that."

Celtic take the field against Manchester United on Tuesday and McCann signed off: "He [Boyd] will go down in our history. I wish I could be with you next week. Bring your family, fill the stadium and sing for this unsung hero."

The former chief executive will not be paying at the gate.