Olivier Ncham’s exit from Celtic at the beginning of August last year was a very low key. The midfielder, who helped Hobbs win three domestic trebles, left the club as his contract expired.
When Celtic fans look back on the Frenchman’s time with the hoops, one moment in particular emerges, and that’s when he helped the Bhoys win for the first time in Italy.
In Celtic’s rich history of European football, the club has never won on Italian soil. But that record expired on November 7, 2019, and Netcham, who signed Hobbs from Manchester City for a fee of around £4.5m in 2017, was one of the main reasons for that.
Celtic had already beaten Lazio 2-1 in the group stage at Celtic Park, so there had to be some confidence in the team that they could score a double. That confidence may have taken a hit when Ciro Immobile put Lazio ahead in the seventh minute, but the Celts responded before halftime when James Forrest’s shot made it 1-1.
In the second half both sides created chances, and it looked as if the hoops would have to settle for a good draw, until the 94th minute.
Odson Edward took advantage of a Lazio error to play in Ncham, who despite his first heavy touch cut the ball over the goalkeeper to make it 2-1 and ensure Celtic win for the first time ever in Italy.
Youtube: Unique angle: Lazio 1-2 Celtic | Goals and celebrations as we Huys astonish Lazio!
Netcham really did take a bad touch when Edward made him go into the penalty area. But to the credit of the player he was able to build himself up to suck the ball over the dashing Thomas Strakosha. He then celebrated the goal with a somersault, as Celtic fans in Rome celebrated wildly.
The match ended 2-1 on hoops, and the win should have been one of the best Celtic teams in Europe over the past 20 years. The Celtic fans watching all over the world undoubtedly celebrated as vigorously as the fans did in Rome, as it was never easy to defeat Lazio in Italy, and Celtic did so from a late goal as well.
But it’s all about Netcham’s winning goal, the memory of the ball hitting the back of the net, a moment this match will be remembered for in the years to come. When Celtic fans look back at Ncham’s time at the club, the winning goal against Lazio is likely to be top of the list.
That’s not a bad thing to remember, as he’s scored one of Celtic’s biggest goals in Europe in the past 20 years. It is for this purpose alone that the Celtic support team will remember Netcham for many years to come.