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PersonalFullname: George McKinlay Cassidy McCluskey
aka: George McCluskey
Born: 19 September 1957
Birthplace: Hamilton, Scotland
Signed: 22 July 1974 (perm)
Left: 26 July 1983 (Leeds)
First game : Valur home 7-0 ECWC 1 October 1975
Last game : Morton home 2-0 league 7 May 1983
First goal : Hearts home 2-2 league 18 September 1976
Last goal : Morton away 3-0 league 5 March 1983
Appearances: 204 games, 78 goals
International: Scotland U/21
BiogGeorge McCluskey signed full time for Celtic in July 1974 after previously being another product of Celtic Boys Club.
A wonderfully talented forward Hamilton-born McCluskey combined an elegant first touch with great vision and a thunderous shot and these talents allowed him to score some truly memorable goals.
He made his debut in October 1975 when he came on as sub and scored as Celtic defeated FC Valur 7-0 in the European Cup Winners Cup at Parkhead and by November he had played against Boavista in Europe and Rangers at Celtic Park and impressed on both occasions.
He was first choice centre forward at the beginning of the 1976/77 season and was impressive in a friendly against the Uruguayans of Penarol, scoring from the penalty spot. However injuries struck and for the best part of 18 months George was out of the first team picture. He returned with a bang on February 6th 1978 when he hammered a spectacular hat trick past Tommy Gemmell's Dundee at Celtic Park in the Scottish Cup. He established himself as a first team regular from that point onwards but despite scoring regularly he could not prevent Celtic from failing to qualify for Europe for the first time since 1962.
In 1978/79 George really came to the fore and scored a vital goal in the 3-1 win over Rangers at Parkhead on September 9th 1978. He was inconsistent but grabbed a vital hat trick at Links Park against Montrose in the Scottish Cup during Celtic's difficult 4-2 victory. In April he scored a magnificent solo effort against St.Mirren which was the winning goal in Celtic's vital 1-0 win. On this day relegation bound Motherwell defeated Rangers 2-0 at Fir Park and the Celts were thrust back into the league race. In the final league game against Rangers when Celtic's ten men triumphed against all the odds George played with great skill and no little courage as all 10 Celtic players ran themselves into the ground after John Doyle's sending off. George scored the second goal and gave the Rangers defence a torrid time as Celtic ran out winners by 4-2 on an unforgettable night.
Joe Craig departed and Tom McAdam moved to centre half, allowing George to take the mantle of Celtic's main striker in 1979. However, Billy McNeill was critical of his lack of goals and Frank McGarvey arrived in the Spring of 1980 to increase quality and competition. George responded well and scored an opportunist winner in the 1980 Scottish Cup Final against Rangers, which literally caused a riot.
McCluskey and McGarvey started the 1980/81 season as Celtic's twin strike force but by September the teenage Charlie Nicholas exploded on to the scene and George lost his place although he still managed to make double figures in the goal stakes by making sporadic appearances and making regular appearances as substitute.
George's best season was the 1981/82 season when he scored 25 times. Nicholas and McGarvey both broke legs and George led the Celtic attack with some style and assumed the responsibility placed on him. At this stage in his career George was a very capable penalty kick taker such was his growing confidence. On the last day of the season against St.Mirren at Celtic Park George came to Celtic's rescue with two vital second half goals in a 3-0 win to prompt joyous scenes as the fans celebrated a hard earned league triumph. Celtic had narrowly won the title and although George was included in the initial 40 man Scotland squad for the 1982 World Cup finals he did not make the final cut of 22. He never won a full Scottish cap.
In 1982/83 Nichoas won his place back at McCluskey's expense and although McNeill occasionally tried to play all three strikers (McCluskey/McGarvey/Nicholas), for example, in the 4-1 win over Hibs on January 22nd 1983, it did not work out and affected the balance of the side. In September 1982 George scored a dramatic late winner against Ajax in Amsterdam to take Celtic through 4-3 on aggregate to the next round of the European Cup. However, chances were limited and George's frustration grew.
In the summer of 1983 a media scrum constantly surrounded Nicholas and he opted to move to Arsenal. George was the ready made replacement but his contract was up and he felt Celtic had neglected him in the financial stakes in favour of Nicholas. George then moved on to second division Leeds much to the sadness of many Celtic fans who admired him greatly.
Perhaps George wasn't a prolific goal scorer but he scored some really spectacular goals. In December 1980 at Firhill he lit up an otherwise forgettable game late on with the only goal when he pounced on a loose ball in the area beat a defender, rounded Alan Rough, and slid the ball into the net. In November 1981 again at Firhill, he sold a Thistle defender a dummy 30 yards out and crashed a thunderous shot past Alan Rough who barely moved.
George McCluskey's departure was lamented greatly as he had scored some of the most important goals of the first Billy McNeill management era and he still had many years of football in him and Celtic supporters to this day fondly recall his skill and technique.
George McCluskey was, and is, Celtic through and through.
George is presently (April 2009) working as Academy Coach with Celtic Under 17's.
|APPEARANCES||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Honours with CelticIndicate any known awards (player of the year, etc)
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