Scottish champions Celtic continued the relentless defence of their league title with a 4-2 victory over Dundee United on Saturday afternoon, with the Old Firm outfit picking up their 12th win of the season thus far to move seven points clear at the top of the table.
It had been far from plain sailing at Parkhead on the day, however, with Ange Postecoglou’s side having been reliant on a dramatic late show from Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada to bail them out of trouble, with it briefly looking as if the Tangerines had done enough to nick a point late on through Dylan Levitt.
The other goalscorer on the day for the visitors had been that of former Scotland international, Steven Fletcher, with the towering marksman converting from the penalty spot to maintain his impressive record against the Hoops, having now scored five goals in 17 meetings with the Glasgow side in his career to date.
The 35-year-old has proven a regular thorn in the side of those at Paradise over the years, although the veteran ace could well have turned out for the Bhoys if things had worked out differently, with the striker admitting that he had come close to joining the club in the past.
“Earlier on in my career when I was linked with Celtic I didn’t have much to do with it.
“At that age you just leave it to agents and all that, only finding things out when they’re pretty much done.
“So I don’t know how close it came back in the early days, but before I signed for Stoke that was the closest a move to Celtic came. It didn’t happen in the end and I’ll tell that story one day!
“But I was linked with Celtic a lot over the years.”
As the 6 foot 1 forward alluded to, the Hoops have regularly been linked with his services for over a decade now, with speculation having first begun after Fletcher burst onto the scene at Hibernian, with those at Celtic Park said to have seen a bid rejected at the tail end of the January window in 2009.
Reports again emerged in 2015 that then-boss Ronny Deila was keen to prise the Shrewsbury-born striker from Premier League outfit Sunderland, with the player said to be available for a fee of around £2m.
No deal came to fruition, however, – potentially as a result of the player’s £50k-per-week salary – with Fletcher eventually going on to join Sheffield Wednesday a year later, following a brief, bizarre stint on loan at Ligue 1 side Marseille.
The imposing brute – who also plied his trade for both Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers after leaving Easter Road – was again close to a move to Celtic Park back in the summer of 2020 with the two parties believed to be in talks, albeit with the former Hibs ace ultimately joining Stoke City.
Now back in Scottish football at Tannadice, the £261k-rated man has made a solid start to the season with four goals and two assists in 15 games in all competitions thus far, while his overall career tally stands at 159 goals at club level.
Such an impressive return should indicate that Fletcher may well have been a success for those in Glasgow had a deal ever come off, with it no doubt a source of frustration that the club’s apparent interest could not lead to an agreement being struck.