Dubbed ‘The Holy Goalie’ for blessing himself before matches, Boruc’s time at Celtic was punctuated by saving a pregnant woman from a racist attack, getting a tattoo of an arse-baring monkey mocking their fierce rivals, and some incredible goalkeeping. A true maverick, he was a rare cult hero of genuine quality, and to this day you’ll still hear his name chanted at Parkhead. Here he reminisces about the intensity and atmosphere of the Old Firm …
“Before I joined the club, I’d watched Celtic a couple of times on Polish TV, mostly Old Firm derbies—but I didn’t realise it was that big. I don’t think anybody realises how big it is, and the expectations, until they come to the club. But as soon as you’re there, you feel the tension. Leaving Legia Warsaw, the team I supported, was quite a big deal for me, but I wanted to do it really badly. I wanted to try something else for a bit of my life. The early stages of my time at Celtic weren’t that bright, we didn’t start the season very well, and I wasn’t automatically first choice, but I worked hard and then fortune gave me a little bit back.
“I had started the previous two league matches when my first Old Firm fixture came along, and in the week leading up to the game, I didn’t really pay it that much attention. We ended up losing 3–1 and had two men sent off. I don’t really remember much about it, just the atmosphere. Until then, I didn’t realise how big it was for the club and the supporters, but from that moment on, I knew: these are the kind of games you have to win.
“As it turns out, those were some of the biggest games I’ve ever played in—it’s the kind of game I’d like to play in again. There’s nowhere else with an atmosphere like it, whether it’s Ibrox or Celtic Park. Obviously, I preferred Celtic Park, but the thing is, the noise was just incredible. The passion at the game was amazing, I’ve never really experienced anything like that, and won’t in my life again.
“Later that season, we went back to Ibrox and won 1–0, after it, the police cautioned me for blessing myself in front of the Rangers fans. I didn’t realise before I came to Celtic that there was a religious aspect to the rivalry, I didn’t expect it. It was just a routine that I had which I did before every half, which turned out to be a very annoying thing for the Rangers fans. But I did enjoy the relationship I had with the Rangers fans, to be honest, it kind of makes you feel alive, makes you feel like the things you’re doing makes them go insane. I did enjoy that.
“Those kind of games brought out the best in me. You didn’t have anything to lose in a way. You don’t worry about anything, you just try to live in the moment and make the best saves you can, and that’s what was always good about it. I think I’m still like that. Those big games at Celtic, in the Champions League, and against Rangers, were a highlight of my life. I watched my penalty save from when we beat Manchester United on YouTube one day, I was watching it with the commentary on, and it gave me goose bumps. It was amazing. The atmosphere at those games was just insane. I really miss that. As soon as I left, I never saw anything like that again in my life.”
This interview first appeared in Issue 11 of our quarterly print publication which you can still get hold of here. Alternately, you can subscribe for the next four issues here, to be first in line for exclusive subscriber offers, discounts and guestlist to events.