Juninho still questions Martin O’Neill’s decision to sign him for Celtic

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Brazilian star Juninho still can’t understand why Martin O’Neill signed him for Celtic.

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Juninho has questioned Martin O'Neill's decision to sign him. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey

Juninho has questioned Martin O'Neill's decision to sign him. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey

The 2002 World Cup winner signed for the Parkhead side in August 2004 on a free transfer from Middlesbrough and was handed the No.7 shirt.

Despite a starring role on his debut in a 1-0 win over Rangers, the player, then in his 30s, made just 14 starts and barely lasted the season before being released from his contract in April 2005.

Speaking to Four Four Two the player questioned O’Neill’s decision to sign him and the tactics in which he deployed.

He said: “I ended up in Scotland, but things didn’t really work out for me. I had this issue with Martin O’Neill and his tactics.

“I still can’t understand why he wanted me at Celtic. He used to play with a 4-4-2 and he asked me to play out wide with defensive responsibilities, but this was never my style. It didn’t suit me and he knew it.

“Maybe inside his head he wasn’t looking for the Juninho of the ’90s, and maybe I’m to blame for that, but a manager should know a player’s style – you have to use them in the right way.

“It was a shame it didn’t work for me there, because Celtic is such a great club.”

His only goal came in a 3-0 win over Hearts and the player, who returned to Brazil after Celtic, remembers his experience of the Old Firm fixture.

“The Old Firm involves religion; when you think about this, it is something totally different to any other match,” he said when asked about the derby.

“We used to see people carrying some anger, but once you’re on the pitch it’s just like Flamengo-Vasco, Sao Paulo-Palmeiras or Middlesbrough-Newcastle. They were all great rivalries.”

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