PETER Grant was entitled to feel rather pleased with the flying visit to Parkhead yesterday of one of the greatest of all German players, Gerd Muller.
He was not alone, however. Another Scot who has nothing at all to do with Celtic, Paul Lambert, will be preening himself when he hears of the regard in which he is held by the former World Cup striker.
Muller and another former Bayern Munich player, Wolfgang Dremmler, were in Glasgow to help launch the testimonial game for long-serving Grant at Parkhead on January 22.
Loading article content
Their appearance at a press conference announcing Bayern as Celtic's opponents for Grant's big day developed into a fascinating exchange of football ideas with Celtic manager Tommy Burns and former manager Billy McNeill.
For Lambert, however, the appraisal of the Germans will be like Wagner in his ears. The former Motherwell man, now with Borussia Dortmund, was described by both Muller and Dremmler as ``a great player'' when they spoke of his appearances in the Bundesliga this season.
``The surprising thing is that he was bought as a squad player by Dortmund, but step by step and because of some illness and injury he made his way into the top team and is playing very well indeed,'' agreed the Germans, who are on the staff at Bayern, Muller as head of youth development and Dremmler as chief scout.
Muller, renowned as the greatest goal-snatcher of his time, is now 52 but looking in robust condition despite having had to overcome a serious drink problem after he stopped playing.
He left most of the talking to his colleague yesterday, but did answer a question about the comparison between the Celtic of now and the team of his time, the one in which McNeill was captain.
``They were a great name in Europe then, but it is different now. However, I do not see Scottish league football as we don't get a chance to watch the matches from here very often.
``But I did see the Scotland international team in England in the European Championships last summer and they were very successful.''
Dremmler, who single-handedly took over the press conference, aided by Muller and Andreas Thom, is clearly a deep thinker about the game and is not afraid to say what he thinks. He is not exceptionally enthusiastic about the current state of German football and, in fact, rates the French and Italian leagues superior.
``I believe German football has lost its way a little,'' he said, ``and I think we have to think about the way we are playing the game. That is why our club sends people to see coaches and teams from many countries.
``I think we are the only German club to do that at the moment, but I am sure others will follow. We will also be using the opportunity in Scotland to learn about Scottish styles.''
Perhaps the most important thing that could be gauged for the intrigued listeners, on and off the top table, at Parkhead yesterday was the presence of two former players from Bayern clearly playing a major role in the club's football business.
Along the table, McNeill, a former manager as well as player, apparently has no contribution to make for Celtic.
Bayern already have Franz Beckenbauer as president, Uli Hoeness as manager, Sepp Maier as a coach, all in support of Italian coach Trappatoni.
Burns was clearly impressed by the articulate opinions offered by the men who spoke of the modern players abroad, in places like Ajax and Milan, and admitted that he, too, would like to see Scottish teams playing more studied football.
``But when you have to go out in front of 50,000 in an Old Firm game it is difficult.''
Thom was not offering criticism when he pointed out that in Scotland ``people want you to go forward, forward all the time. But playing against Barcelona next week and then Bayern Munich gives us the chance to show what Scottish football can do.''
Meanwhile, the Bayern chief scout, having been impressed by Lambert, reckons he should perhaps examine others in this country. ``We don't know the market here and I hope we get the chance to have a look some time.''