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John Park was head-hunted and recruited as Football Development Manager by Celtic on 23rd January, 2007. He had previously been Head of Youth Development at Hibernian and was credited with bringing through many youth players into Hibs’ first team. His principle task is believed to be the targetting of future signings to the first team but he will also be involved in recruitment to the Academy and as such he works closely with all the scouts and Chris McCart, Head of the Academy.
John Park spent nine years at Hibernian developing a Youth structure which became the envy not only of other teams in Scotland but also south of the border. His skills in highlighting talent and bringing out and up to first team level soon became recognised. He turned down job offers of Chief Scout at Ibrox, Head of Football under Tony Mowbray at West Bromwich Albion and even turned down Jose Mourinho and Frank Arnesen when he was sought for a youth coaching role for the Stamford Bridge club. However he was lured by the prospect of seeking out talent throughout Europe which would enhance the Celtic’s prospects in the Champions League despite attempts by Hibs chairman, Rob Petrie to get him to stay by offering him a directorship at Easter Road. Park sees his role in a similar light to that of Frank Arnesen at Chelsea.
Prior to joining Hibernian, John Park had worked as a scout, youth developer and match analyst for Motherwell and a youth coach for Hamilton Accies prior to that. Having originally worked as an IT manager at Glasgow Caledonian University, Tommy McLean took him to Fir Park from his part-time role at Hamilton and when his successor at Motherwell, Alex McLeish moved on to manage Hibernian in February 1998, John Park went with him. He outlasted three managers at Hibs.
At the time of his appointment John said, "I looked at all the fits for all the jobs that were offered and that was a good situation to be in but I just felt this one was a good fit that after talking to Gordon Strachan and Peter Lawwell, they both wanted me to come here and make things work. If the Celtic job hadn't been here I would have gone to West Brom. But you could go to West Brom and still be hankering for the Champions League, while I can miss all that out, and go direct to the Champions League without passing other stations to get there. No-one in their right mind would pass up on that."
Announcement of John Park's appointment.
” CELTIC Football Club is today delighted to announce that John Park will join as Football Development Manager. John joins from Hibernian where he was Youth Academy Director.
Speaking about his appointment, John Park said: “I’m delighted to be here. It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting started.
“The Football Development Manager role has developed because Celtic is such a massive club. They’re looking to co-ordinate all the scouting, all the recruitment throughout the club, and they have seen me as the person deemed fit enough to take up the position.
“I’ve already met Gordon Strachan and we’re looking forward to working together, looking for quality players for him in his first-team, and working with the rest of the team.
“There is already a lot of good staff working at the club and we’re looking to enhance that.
“When I joined Hibernian in April 1998 it was a great career move for me. Hibernian is a fantastic club with some great people and the chairman’s been brilliant with me all the way along.
“Now this new role at Celtic is another challenge in my career and I think it’s the right challenge for me.”
Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell added: “I am absolutely delighted that John has agreed to join Celtic in this new and exciting role. It is a major coup for us to have secured his services.
“Everyone will be aware of his incredible record at Hibernian and the terrific work he did in the youth development of the club.
“John’s main task will be to co-ordinate and manage our scouting network throughout the Club.
“Scouting for quality talent is extremely important to a Club like Celtic when competing at the highest level against clubs with significantly higher football budgets.
“John will join Ray Clarke, Tom O’Neill and the rest of the scouting team with the objective of putting Celtic at the forefront of identifying talent around Europe.
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