Saturday’s pre-season trip to Celtic will be an emotional one for West Ham United manager David Moyes.
Born in Glasgow, Moyes joined the club he supported as a child at the age of 17 in 1980, having been scouted playing for local side Drumchapel Amateurs.
The young centre-back went onto to represent Celtic 35 times in all competitions and was part of Billy McNeill’s squad when they won the Scottish Premier Division title in 1981/82, edging out an Aberdeen side managed by a man who would go on to become Moyes’ mentor and friend, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Moyes moved to England in 1983, joining then-Second Division Cambridge United and, aside from a short spell playing for Hamilton Academical in 1993, has spent the entirety of his playing and coaching career south of the border.
While he may have been away from home, the 58-year-old’s love affair with his boyhood club has endured, while his father David Sr., who was his coach at Drumchapel and is also a lifelong supporter, still lives in Glasgow and will be at Celtic Park to watch his team take on the Irons on Saturday afternoon.
With up to 18,000 Celtic supporters permitted to attend as Scotland loosens its COVID restrictions, it promises to be a memorable occasion for Moyes and his family, while the fixture and atmosphere will help prepare the Hammers for the challenges ahead in a busy 2021/22 season.
“Anybody who knows anything about football would say they’re excited about going to Celtic and I think there will be about 18,000 home supporters allowed in, which is fantastic,” the manager told West Ham TV.
“I actually thought it was good to have supporters back at Reading on Wednesday night because the players are having to get used to it again.
“What we’re really hoping for is for the first game of the season to get the go ahead with full stadiums, because that’s what we really want, so let’s hope that the way it is.
“We’re looking forward to the next game now.”
While the present and future are Moyes’ primary concern, his past career is one he can look back on with huge pride – a career which started with Celtic over four decades ago.
There, he lined up in a team featuring some of Scotland’s top players at a time when Scottish football was very strong, with Celtic leading the way, Aberdeen winning trophies at home and in Europe and both Rangers and Dundee United also making their mark.
Moyes himself lined up in a star-studded Celtic side that included Scotland internationals Danny McGrain, Roy Aitken, Tommy Burns, Charlie Nicholas and Paul McStay and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Pat Bonner, and looks back fondly on the memories of those successful days in Parkhead.
“I wouldn’t put myself down as a heck of a player, but I played in a really good team and I got myself a Scottish Premier Division medal,” he smiled.
“The days I had there were great days. I played with some great players, stunningly good players, most of whom played for Scotland, and at that time Celtic was as big a club as any club in Britain.
“Glasgow is my city, so I know it well. I’ve got a lot of friends there, I’ve got my Dad coming to the game, so it’s great to be able to do that as well.”
Saturday’s pre-season match between West Ham United and Celtic will kick-off at 3pm. You can follow the game live via whufc.com and our social media channels.
Please note that NO away tickets are available for West Ham United fans, in line with Covid-19 restrictions still in place in Scotland, and supporters are advised not to travel to Glasgow.