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PersonalFullname: Johan Mjallby
aka: Big Johan, Dolph
Born: 9 Feb 1971
Birthplace: Jarfalla Sweden
Signed: 20 Nov 1998
Left: 2 June 2004
Position: Centre-half, Defender (initially a midfielder)
Debut: Celtic 5-1 Rangers, League, 21 Nov 1998
International Caps: 48 caps
International Goals: 4 goals
BiogSwedish giant Johan Mjallby proved to be a bargain £1.5 million purchase when he moved to Celtic in the November of 1998 from AIK Solna.
Initially signed as a midfielder by then boss Josef Venglos the Swede enjoyed a dream start to his Celtic career when he was part of the side to demolish Rangers 5-1 at Parkhead in November. However it would not be until the arrival of Martin O’Neill in the summer of 2000 that the player nicknamed Dolph – due to his likeness to muscle-bound actor Dolph Lundgren (i.e. the big "Russian" boxer in Rocky IV) – really began to shine in the Hoops.
O’Neill quickly recognised that Mjallby’s physical presence would be best employed in the heart of defence. Consequently Mjallby slotted into a system which saw O’Neill play three centre-halves flanked by two attack minded wing-backs. The move reaped dividends for both player and team. Mjallby relished his role as a defensive enforcer, his all action style and energetic approach making him a firm favourite with fans if not opposition forwards. Alongside the likes of Joos Valagren, Ramon Vega and Bobo Balde, Mjallby ensured Celtic had a physical presence and and a controlled aggression few, if any, others could rival. In many ways he suited MoN's style, an old fashioned no nonsense tall strong and frightening centre-half to scare the opposition, and it worked!
The days when the Bhoys would be bullied by Rangers and others were well and truly over. The well used phrase ‘hard but fair’ summed up the approach of Mjallby and his colleagues.
The powerful Mjallby may have lacked blistering pace but he was a consistently good defender who was strong on the deck – if a little over-zealous at time – and awesome in the air. He posed a huge goal threat at set-pieces, his mere presence in the opponents penalty box was often enough to cause panic. Not only did Mjallby score some important goals for the Hoops, his presence in the box often allowed the likes of Henrik Larsson to make the most of distracted defenders.
A mainstay in the side which won back to back titles, the Swedish international was an integral part of the side which reached the UEFA Cup final in 2003. However by then the player was already being troubled by a knee injury which would continue to prove troublesome and curtail his career.
After an injury effected year Mjallby finally left Celtic in July 2004 when he joined Spanish side Levante after some 184 appearances for the Bhoys.
A fully committed and dependable performer Johan Mjallby was a hugely popular figure with the support and his contribution to the glory years under Martin O’Neill will be fondly remembered for many years to come. He still continued to watch the Hoops after he stopped as a player and was as much a fan as the rest of us.
A really great player and great guy who it was very difficult to adequately replace for many season after he left, and at the least we doubt we'll ever replace him with anyone as good a set of hair on his head as him.
Coaching StaffOn the 25th March 2010 following the sacking of Tony Mowbray as Celtic Manager Neil Lennon was appointed Caretaker Manager until the end of the season and Neil immediately brought Johan back to Celtic as his Assistant Manager - Lennon coming in temporarily was expected but not many Celtic fans (if any) foresaw the move for Mjallby although it was warmly welcomed by the supporters, and he set about forming a strong double act in the management team with Lennon, sealing their coveted first league title as a management duo in 2011/12.
|Club||From||To||Fee||League||Scottish/FA Cup||League cup||Other|
|Levante||02/07/2004||14/03/2005||Free||3 (0)||0||0 (0)||0||0 (0)||0||0 (0)||0|
|Celtic||20/11/1998||02/06/2004||£ 1,500,000||132 (12)||13||14 (2)||0||10 (0)||1||28 (0)||1|
|AIK Solna||01/01/1989||20/11/1998||Youth||120 (0)||6||0 (0)||0||0 (0)||0||0 (0)||0|
|Totals||£1,500,000||255 (12)||19||14 (2)||0||10 (0)||1||28 (0)||1|
| ||goals / game||0.07||0||0.1||0.03|
- Runners-up 2002-2003
On his debut (from Interview with "The Herald")"Not surprisingly, he retains a special fondness for the first of those. The terror and joy of making your debut in an Old Firm game is a memory he will recount to his grandchildren.
"It was unbelievable," he said. "I signed for Celtic on the Thursday and thought I might go home to Sweden and get a chance to pack my bags.
"But I trained with the team on Friday and was was then told by Jozef Venglos that I was being thrown into the Old Firm game from the start. I was still pretty cool about it. Not cocky, but I had played in the Stockholm derbies for AIK against Djurgarden and Hammarby in front of 35,000 people.
"I thought I knew about it all . . . then the game started. For the first 10 minutes, I was really s**t-scared. I mean it. I didn't want the ball anywhere near me and when it did come to me I felt my touch was terrible. The noise around the place was incredible. I'd never experienced anything like it.
"After that start, though, I really began to enjoy it and, of course, we won 5-1. That game will live with me forever."
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