• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Fisher recalls a Celtic from the past, as he relishes the real thing in the present

The idea of Jimmy Johnstone helping a full-back in his career is an absurdity for those who saw the Celtic winger demoralise a generation of defenders.

Darnell Fisher, though, has reason to invoke the name of Jinky when he considers the journey that has taken him from the pitches of Sunday league to the bench of the Champions League.

The 19-year-old Englishman once had no thought of playing professional football, content to have a laugh with his mates in the amateur variety around his home in Reading.

He had a Celtic connection in that he played with Eldon of that ilk but it was the name of Jimmy Johnstone that provided the passport to a professional life.

Fisher explains: "Eldon Celtic played against Jimmy Johnstone Academy down south and the guy who manages that team asked me to come up and play in a tournament. That was the start of it and I kicked on from there."

The full-back was content to play Sunday football, saying: "It was all good fun. We were all friends. We played against people from school and obviously you want to beat them and have a laugh. I did not think about professional football. I would watch it on TV but I did not think about it other than that."

The tournament in Glasgow changed that as Farnborough United, in the Conference South, signed him. He spent a season playing regularly with United before he sealed an extraordinary move to Celtic.

"Farnborough helped me a lot. It was a good league," he says.Fisher was preparing to do a sports course at college when Farnborough stepped in and changed his life.

He first understood the importance of Jimmy Johnstone when he came to Celtic Park on trial and posed in front of the winger's statue. "I got a DVD of him and watched it," he says.

His path to success at Celtic Park was obstructed by the substantial figures of Mikael Lustig and Adam Matthews, both international full-backs, but Fisher persevered.

"I had to wait and keep trying. It does get difficult but you have to just keep plugging away," he says of a contract signed in 2011 and a first-team debut made in October last year against Hibernian. "I used to play central midfield when I came up here but I filled in [at full-back] in an under-19 match and it has gone from there."

He acknowledges help from Virgil Van Dijk and Fraser Forster, who talk him through matches and is grateful that he has been given a chance at the highest level.

"It was a big move at the time but that is football," he says of the transfer from his home in Berkshire. "If it meant moving away, then I had to do it."

Eldon Celtic, the Reading and District Sunday League team, has not been forgotten.

"My pals still play at that level and I watch them when I am down south. It is still a good laugh," he says. He adds: "Once it was no showers after the game, straight back into the car, straight home, get the kit off to wash it and have a bath. Then school the next day."

The learning process now continues, but now at the best grounds in Europe.

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

209021