Former Celtic midfielder Craig Burley insists his 1999 transfer to Derby County was pushed through so the Parkhead club could sign expensive Brazilian flop Rafael Scheidt.
The Scottish international was a big part of the Celtic side which stopped Rangers winning ten-in-a-row in 1998 after arriving in a £2.5million move from Chelsea.
However, he was out the door two-and-a-half-years later when English Premier League side Derby County paid £3million for his services.
Scheidt, meanhile, was a spectacular flop in Glasgow. The defender would leave the club after only five appearances and is widely regarded as one of the worst transfers in Celtic’s history.
Burley, speaking to the Glasgow Is Green podcast, said he was sold at the behest of director of football Kenny Dalglish and chief executive Allan McDonald.
He said: “This is how the deal came out: Celtic had to raise capital to bring in, wait for it, Rafael Scheidt. Somebody at Celtic thought paying £5.5million for that player was a good idea.
“Celtic weren’t in the business for paying £5.5million for anyone back then without selling someone else. So they were looking for sellable players. [Henrik] Larsson has a broken leg, probably wouldn’t sell him anyway, and they couldn’t sell [Mark] Viduka. Larsson’s got a broken leg and he’s the only fit striker. So you start looking around. Plus, I don’t think they liked me anyway.
“I played hardball for three or four weeks to p*** Kenny off, because Kenny always likes to get his own way. And I knew they had to get the money from my sale for the big hopeless Brazilian.
“I used to go in every morning and they boys would say, ‘are you still here?’ And at the start Kenny was threatening me with everything, like training at night under the floodlights. I was like, ‘I don’t care, do what you want’.”
Despite describing the 1998 triumph as the “greatest time in his career” Burley states he was happy to leave the goldfish bowl of football in Glasgow for something approaching “normality” in the East Midlands.
There was an opportunity to stay when head coach John Barnes made a late appeal to the player, though his mind had been made up
“The morning I was flying down to Derby to conclude my medical, and the wife says, ‘someone’s on the phone for you’. I said, ‘who is it?’. She says, ‘it’s John Barnes’.
“So I get on the phone and I say, ‘Barnesy, I’m leaving to go, what is it?’
“He just says, ‘don’t go, I don’t want you to go’.
“I’m saying to him, ‘I’m getting on a flight in half an hour, I’m doing a medical, I’m going to Derby’. And he’s just saying, ‘don’t go, I don’t want you to go’. But my mind had been made up.
“Clearly, and this was an underlying problem throughout John’s time, there were people behind the scenes pulling the rug from under his feet, and making the job for an inexperienced boss at such a big club even more difficult.
“You couldn’t make it up.”
• Listen to the full interview here.