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Big Jan, that goal and Fifth Avenue NYC

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Jan Vennegoor of HesselinkCeltic’s 2007/08 SPL title triumph was a never to be forgotten campaign.

Every emotion was experienced, especially over the final two months of the season with two home wins over Rangers in an 11 day spell paving the way for a Thursday night title clincher at Tannadice. Amid the joy was the tragic death of Tommy Burns and the highly emotional scenes of his funeral as the bhoy from the Calton was laid to rest.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink was at the heart of the action, scoring an injury time winner against Rangers then nodding the home the title clincher at Tannadice.

Last week at Dunfermline the Dutchman was back in a Celtic shirt playing in the Jock Stein match, afterwards he was happy to turn back the clock and recall the period when he put his name into Celtic folklore- including an unlikely thank-you in New York City.

Looking back he recalled: “We lost at home to Motherwell with ten men and no one was happy but the next week we won away at Fir Park and that was a bit of a turnaround.

Then we had two games coming up at home to Rangers and when I look back on it now it was like a fairytale.

After losing to Rangers and at home to Motherwell the fans weren’t happy, it wasn’t a nice time. We had been in front earlier in the season but lost ground.

Even by winning all of our games we needed Rangers to slip up but they drew at Motherwell and I remember watching that match and everyone was buzzing afterwards knowing it was in our hands again to win the league.

The midweek game against Rangers was pretty special. A draw would have suited them and that’s all they wanted from the match.

Naka hit a screamer, it was an unbelievable shot, my son still watches it on You Tube, it swerved a few times before hitting the net then Novo equalised.

Midway through the second half Nakamura got the ball, cut inside and shot for goal and Cuellar saved it and got a red card- penalty- but Scott McDonald missed it. Time was ticking away and a draw was no use for us.

I scored in injury time and that gave us some hope, that kept the door open. We had a little light, it was a great feeling to score but it’s only looking back now you see the importance of that goal.

We won our remaining games, Rangers were feeling the pressure and were still involved in the UEFA Cup. We felt that if we could win the other game against Rangers we could do it.

We won 3-2 thanks to a s**t penalty from Barry Robson, it was terrible! We thought that by winning that game we were right back in it, everyone got a buzz and they really started to feel the pressure from so many games.

Then before the final match on a Thursday night we had the death of Tommy Burns, everything came together, it was really emotional. On the Tuesday there was the funeral, so many people were at the stadium waving goodbye to Tommy, it was such an emotional time.

There were players like McGeady and O’Dea that Tommy had taken under his wing, they were influential for the team and struggled with the funeral. Eventually we did it for Tommy, it was incredible, you could write a book about everything that was going on.

There was the eruption at Tannadice when we won the league, people remind me often about that goal.

I was in New York and someone crossed the street to see me, he said ‘Hey is that you, big Jan, thanks for the goal.’ It was a great season, everything came together on that Thursday night.

Rangers were playing at Aberdeen, we also had a difficult game at Tannadice. I scored the goal from Paul Hartley’s corner, it was a great memory, I still have the pictures.

It was one of the pinnacles in my career, we were struggling a bit, that defeat from Motherwell was a bad one but eventually it turned out great, it was very special with Tommy and taking the title on the final day.

The journey back to Celtic Park was great, lots of people were waiting for us at the entrance, the flowers, scarves and jerseys for Tommy were still there. Looking back when I stopped playing football that time will remain one of my great memories.”

Last week’s match at East End Park was for the Pars Foundation and Celtic Foundation.

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