BOBBY EVANS was, without doubt, one of the most charismatic players to wear a Scottish jersey in the 15 or so years after the Second World War. He had arrived at Parkhead in the latter stages of that war from the junior side, St Anthony's. Celtic had virtually given up the struggle during war-time and, as a result, there was much to be done at Parkhead. Evans and Charlie Tully were key figures in what was a substantial, but only partial, revival.

With his thatch of flaming red hair, Evans was always going to be kenspeckle and, added to the physical characteristic, he had apparently boundless energy and no little skill. He announced himself in his second international, against Northern Ireland at Hampden in 1948. The visiting side included such giants as Johnny Carey,

Jack Vernon, and the great Peter Doherty and they led until well into the game when the tireless foraging and skilful prompting of Evans, allied to the opportunism of Billy Houliston, turned prob-able defeat into victory.

The red-haired youngster would go on to play for his country 48 times and spend an incredible 23 years in senior football. He would have had many more caps but the Scotland support was not united as it is now and there was a substantial lobby for the talented Ian McColl

of Rangers. It was the time when, in Jock Stein's memorable phrase, ''Old Firm supporters went to internationals to cheer three players,

boo two, and ignore the rest''.

Evans made a formal statement to the effect that he no longer wished to be considered for international duty and for a time he dropped out of the Scotland side. When he returned, it was to take over at centre-half from the retiring George Young of Rangers, a move that itself created controversy. By now the somewhat manic energy of youth had abated and Evans played a much more waiting role in the middle of the defence, his marshalling of the rearguard being a feature of his game.

It was his misfortune to be a Celtic player at a time when that club was slackly administered and his list of domestic honours - reasonably imposing as it is - is nothing like as extensive as it should have been. This is particularly so in the Scottish Cup where semi-final and final defeats stud his career with monotonous regularity. Even at that, he had one league championship medal, two Scottish Cup medals, and two League Cup medals, including one from the famous final of 1957 when Celtic defeated Rangers 7-1.

By the late 1950s that fine side had broken up, affected by serious injury to such as Billy McPhail and Jock Stein, assisted by administrative incompetence. Willy Fernie went and Charlie Tully retired. The edge was going from Evans's great speed, always a trump card, and increasingly he was exposed by such mobile youngsters as Gerry Baker of St Mirren, whose blistering speed had led to a heavy defeat in the cup semi-final of 1959.

Changes in personnel and a none-too-generous wage structure at Parkhead led to a decision to join the trek south and in May 1960 Chelsea paid Celtic (pounds) 12,500 for him. His time at Stamford Bridge was very unsuccessful and with hindsight it

is clear that he had delayed his

move south far too long. A year in London was enough to convince both player and club that a mistake had been made and he set off for the Welsh border and the less exalted ranks of Newport County. Here he first tried his hand at managing, although, as it turned out, he still had plenty of playing left in him.

He returned north to Morton in 1963 and did much to reinvigorate the Greenock side which had just experienced a very bad patch. It could fairly be said that he helped lay the foundation of the Morton side which would reach the final of the League Cup in season 1964/65.

By that latter year he had gone from coaching Third Lanark to managing that club and he did what he could to restore some measure of decency and sanity to its death throes. When he left Third Lanark the club had less than two years to exist.

Understandably, he was cured of any lingering managerial aspirations and when he signed for Raith Rovers in 1965 it was purely as a player. He gave them two years of service before drawing a line under a remarkable football career.

For almost all his time at Parkhead, Evans was a figure loved and respected by the supporters. At a time when the attitude of some of the players was curiously casual and uninvolved, Evans would recognise no such thing as a lost cause. He was a physical rallier of his troops and, above all, a leader by example.

He played in the era of the jersey player and there is no doubt he was one. There is even less doubt that he suffered financially and career-wise for his attachment to Celtic.

By any playing standards, his career was highly successful. He knew what it was to win at Wembley, he knew what it was to be home national champions, and, although he was just too early for European competition at club level, he measured himself in foreign internationals against the best in Europe.

His nomination as player of the year in 1953 testified to his performance up to that point as does his achievement in gaining a record number of full and inter-league caps at the time of his retirement.

Bobby Evans, international footballer; born April 16, 1924, died September 2, 2001.