The Gloves Are off as Hedman Stakes a Claim to Be Top Bhoy; FOOTBALL SPECIAL Present Incumbent Douglas Has Much to Fear from New Swede

By Mcgowan, Stephen | Daily Mail (London), July 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

The Gloves Are off as Hedman Stakes a Claim to Be Top Bhoy; FOOTBALL SPECIAL Present Incumbent Douglas Has Much to Fear from New Swede


Mcgowan, Stephen, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: STEPHEN MCGOWAN

IN A battle of international proportions, Magnus Hedman and Rab Douglas will spend this week jockeying for position in the race to become Celtic's Champions League goalkeeper.

It's a race which can produce only one winner. Should it be Douglas who spends the opening SPL Saturday of the season on the bench, however, then in time there could be more than one loser.

Berti Vogts has spent the summer dropping rather large hints that Douglas is finally in line to succeed Neil Sullivan as Scotland No. 1 after years on the international sidelines.

How that scenario would suffer if Hedman, Parkhead's new 'Goldfinger', were to immediately justify his near [pound]2million price tag and wages of [pound]17,000 a week, is anyone's guess.

A man of loyalty, it remains to be seen if Martin O'Neill will opt to shatter Douglas' burgeoning confidence by making an immediate change. The money allegedly on offer to Sweden's No. 1 suggests however, that his role extends beyond providing mere cover for the current incumbent.

Former SFA goalkeeping coach Alan Hodgkinson saw the international frustration of former Dundee keeper Douglas at close quarters under Craig Brown's tenure.

And, after spending the last month as Hedman's goalkeeping coach at Coventry City, the former England keeper admits that his former Scotland charge faces a club battle every bit as challenging as that presented by Sullivan.

Hodgkinson declines to lay his own odds on who will win the battle for Parkhead supremacy, insisting: 'It's entirely up to the manager of Celtic whether Magnus goes up there to be No. 1 or not - but what I will say is that he is an international goalkeeper of some quality.

'I only worked with Magnus for four weeks at Coventry, but he has very quick feet and is very confident in the air. I may only have seen Magnus for a short time, but it was long enough to be very impressed with his standard. He is an exceptional pro.

'I suppose we knew that he might want to move on after playing in the World Cup and that's his prerogative. Like any player, he wants to play at the highest level he can, and i f the move to Parkhead goes through, then he will be looking at the prospect of playing in the European Champions League.

'As the World Cup showed, he is a top-quality keeper who wants to be at the highest level and is up to the job. I don't think anybody will blame him for moving to Celtic. I enjoyed working with him immensely.' Hedman will undergo a medical, expected to end in his attendance at Celtic's pre- season friendly against St Mirren at Love Street this evening. …

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