July 1975 was a time to shake up the Celtic squad with the demise of the Lions and transition to the Quality Street kids but not all was seamless. As every great side in history has indicated, you don’t replace like for like and get the same results. It was the Sly old fox Sean Fallon who held the reigns of the Parkhead hot seat as Big Jock recovered from his near death car accident. McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone and Jim Brogan had also parted ways with the club. There certainly was some rejigging required.
Sean looked toward Denmark and to a strapping giant of a man in the shape of Icelandic footballer Johannes Edvaldsson. The big man was plying his trade with Holbaek after a brief spell with Metz in France and good enough to be picked for the Iceland national team. At 25 years old he came on a trial basis to see if he could settle to life in Glasgow and British football and was seen as a versatile player who could fill a few positions. On a sunny August afternoon Johannes would make his debut against English team Derby County at a packed Celtic Park. Not bad as far as debuts go as he eased comfortably into midfield and scored in the 1-0 game to herald his arrival in green and white hoops.
Edvaldsson would go on and make his domestic debut in a league cup game against Aberdeen in August at Celtic Park in another 1-0 win. He became a staple of the midfield and regularly used in attack, although a big lad he had a deft touch and knew where the goal was. We would end that season without a trophy but the big man endeared himself with 12 goals in total. Including a hat trick at Somerset Park in November of 75 against Ayr United.
We the fans always love a man who fights for the shirt and being the outsider Edvaldsson had a point to prove. Never giving the opposition an inch but giving plenty of steel and becoming affectionately known to his legions of admirers as ‘Shuggie.’ A Glaswegian name for the big Icelandic and probably because it was easier to call him Shug than his real name. Especially with a few beers and a few tonics warming the cockles. Born in Reykjavik on the 3rd of September 1950. His father a former professional goalkeeper who had represented Estonia 7 times during his career. Edvald Mikson still has an air of controversy hanging over his name until this day. A former deputy chief in the Estonian Police “Sicherheitspolezei” he was employed by the invading * regime to clear his town of all Jews. Until the day he died he vehemently denied involvement, instead insisting he had forged papers to free Jewish P.O.W.s. but contested and found guilty by a Jewish Community group in Estonia in 2001. There was also ‘Shugs’ (Atli Edvaldsson) brother who for years played his football with Borussia Dortmund in Germany. 7 years the junior he also held at one time the most appearances by an Icelandic international.
Mikson (centre). Alti Edvaldsson.
Back at Celtic Edvaldsson would fall out of contention for the jersey early season 76. But an injury early 77 to Roddy McDonald saw Shuggie regain a spot and impress the rest of the season. Next season saw him joint top scorer with 12 goals but his pinnacle in the hoops was to follow in season 1978/79. He went on for his name to be carved into Celtic folklore as one of the “Ten Men won the League.” A night in which Celtic would defeat their bitter rivals Rangers 4-2 in May. The same evening Scottish television chose to hold a strike against broadcasting. Never changes. People still recall how Edvaldsson’s performance that night was strong, composed and dedicated and one reason that pushed the Hoops over the line.
“10Men Win The League”
In his final season he would fall out of favour with Billy McNeill and a subsequent falling out between manager and player saw big Shuggie head across the Atlantic to sign for Tulsa Roughnecks. He’d last one season in America and return to Europe to play in Germany with Hannover 96. Scotland was beckoning the Shugster hame and to Motherwell he returned in 1982 with his Scottish wife in Toe. He was signed by Jock Wallace and spent another two years there. Johannes “Shuggie” Edvaldsson was never a pace maker or the most skilful player in the world. He was determined and strong and fought for the jersey. Taken to the hearts of the Celtic fans and reamains a cult hero. One of our earliest and successful foreign imports.He had a brain haemorrhage in 1995 but that couldn’t beat him either and remains today living surrounded by his family in Scotland. Hail Hail Shuggie.
Johannes Edvaldsson tragically passed away due to COVID 24/01/21 at the age of 70 years old.
R.I.P. Big Man.
First collectors card with a fresh face Shug in Glesga. Card number 2 Looking like a local.
SIGNED: Summer 1975 from Holbaek (Denmark)
LEFT: 2nd February 1980 Tulsa Rednecks (USA)
POSITIONS: Midfield. Defence. Striker.
FIRST competitive game: 9/8/75 LC Celtic 1-0 Aberdeen.
FIRST competitive goal: 16/8/75 LC Celtic 3-1 Hearts.
LAST game: Dundee Utd. 8/4/80 away 0-3 League
LAST goal: Hibs 17/11/79 home 3-0 League
International caps: 34 Iceland. (16 at Celtic)
International goals: 2.
Favourite Food: Steak and chips.
Favourite Film: Taxi Driver.
Favourite Celtic Song: Uncle Nobby’s steamboat.
HONOURS WITH CELTIC.
LEAGUE Champion: 1976/77: 1978/79
SCOTTISH CUP: 1975: 1977: 1980
League: 127 Goals: 24
Scottish cup: 13 Goals: 0
League cup: 35 Goals: 8
Europe: 13.Goals: 4
Total: 188 Goals: 36.