United Kingdom

Former Celtic, Aston Villa and Czechoslovakia manager Dr Jozef Venglos dies aged 84

Tributes were paid to Dr Jozef Venglos on Tuesday night after the former Celtic boss died at the age of 84.

The Slovakian managed the Parkhead club for a year during season 1998-99, carving his legacy with the signing of midfield maestro Lubo Moravcik.

A renowned figure in European and world football, Venglos became the first manager born outside Britain or Ireland to coach in the English top tier when he took charge of Aston Villa during season 1990-91.

Dr Jozef Venglos, who managed Celtic for one season in 1998-99, has died aged 84 

Pictured here alongside Henrik Larsson, Venglos is fondly remembered at the club

Coach of the Czechoslovakia team who won the 1976 European Championships, he also led them to the quarter finals of Italia 90.

Appointed president of the European Coaches Union in 1995, he was a surprise choice to replace Wim Jansen at Celtic in July 1998.

As well as Moravcik, he took Johan Mjallby, Mark Viduka and Vidar Riseth to Glasgow before leaving when Rangers secured a domestic treble under Dick Advocaat.

Former Celtic general manager Jock Brown, instrumental in luring Venglos to Glasgow, told Sportsmail he was ‘the finest man I ever met in my life’.

‘I say that because of his compassion, his decency, his honesty, his charm. Put simply, he had everything.

Venglos was the first foreign manager to take the helm in the English top flight with Aston Villa

‘It’s on record what he did in the game. But I remember him best as a human being and were it possible I would certainly be travelling to Bratislava for the funeral.’

As Celtic boss, Venglos’ finest moment came during a 5-1 win over Rangers in November 1998. The timing of that result came as no surprise to either him or Brown.

‘After we got over the World Cup in 1998 when we had ten players away, I was talking to him about coming to Scotland and he said: “You will not have a team until November. These guys will be unable to perform properly until they get over the World Cup and recover”. 

‘We worked out a system of giving them three weeks off in groups and shortly after that Tom Boyd phoned me and asked for the ones who had been away to delay their return for a week.

‘I’d just been talking to Jozef about that and said it would be fine. But he predicted that there would be no real quality about the team until November and he was absolutely right.

Venglos built a fine reputation and was a pioneer for foreign managers in Britain

Venglos' best moment as Celtic manager was undoubtedly beating Rangers 5-1

‘From November to March it was some of the best football I saw Celtic play.

‘He was the guy who wanted Viduka, Mjallby, Viduka and Riseth because he thought they would make the squad stronger.

‘He was right about that. And to me he was just a wonderful warm human being.

‘I don’t do tributes unless they are justified and in the case of Jozef there can be absolutely no question over that.’

Replaced at Celtic by the Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes management team, Venglos also managed Sporting Lisbon, Fenerbache, Malaysia, Slovakia, Oman and Japanese team JEF United Ichihara in 2002.

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