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Celtic fans relive the amazing Nakamura free-kick that broke Chick Young’s heart

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Celtic fans have been reliving one of the epic matches of the 2007/08 title win.

Towards the end of February Celtic faced a Sunday trip to St Mirren on the back of a Champions League tie against Barcelona that had featured a baby-faced Leo Messi.

The league campaign still had three Glasgow derbies to be played which created all sort of permutations but there wasn’t much margin for error even though Celtic had won their last six SPL matches.

It was a flat, frustrating display from Gordon Strachan, typical of those following a European tie with the Celtic support behind Mark Howard willing their side to make the breakthrough.

With four minutes left to play Shinnosuke Nakamura was pushed over with Chick Young still to forgive referee Eddie Smith for straight-forward award of the free kick.

St Mirren had time to build a wall, four players lined up along the 18-yard line with Nakamura centrally placed and preparing to hit the ball with his left foot.

The midfielder’s skill with that foot was well known but from a central position, 28 yards from goal he lifted his shot high over the wall and across Howard into the keeper’s left side of the net.

Behind the goal the fans erupted, Nakamura was mobbed by team mates but in the commentary box one Saints fan was inconsolable.

Six months later Young opened up on the BBC website:

It was Smith who awarded Celtic a free kick in the dying minutes of the fixture against Saints in Paisley with which Shunsuke Nakamura burgled Celtic three points last season.

Days later, he travelled with Celtic – via Strathclyde Police – as a security advisor on the club’s trip to Barcelona. The Scottish FA stresses that he travelled as often with Rangers and the governing body itself. But, under the circumstances, was there not another officer who could have undertaken that task?

Just because you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.

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Fortunately for Chick, St Mirren stayed up. Three months later on a Thursday night at Tannadice, with the season extended to suit Rangers and no-one else Celtic clinched the league thanks to a headed goal from Jan Vinegar of Hesselink.

There were many dramatic moments and late winners over the season, Nakamura’s strike at Love Street was as important as any goal scored in that dramatic season.

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