Why Celtic’s first Frenchman is still indebted to the club
CELTIC fans will be eternally grateful to Stephane Mahe for the contribution he made to the Scottish title victory that ended nearly a decade of Rangers domestic dominance and prevented the Ibrox club from completing 10-In-A-Row back in 1998.
Yet the French left-back will forever be indebted to the Glasgow club and their supporters himself for helping to end a troubled period in his life and resurrect his ailing career. He will have no divided loyalties when Rennes, who he also played for, take to the field for their penultimate Europa League group match at Parkhead this evening.
“I have followed Celtic in Europe this season and I hope to see them win against Rennes and then go far in the competition,” said Mahe (right) from his home in Pontarlier near the French-Swiss border yesterday.
“For me, in my head, in my heart, I don’t forget, I can’t forget, my time with Celtic and in particular what the Celtic fans gave me. I am so very proud to have played for Celtic.”
Mahe, a product of the fabled Auxerre youth academy, showed tremendous promise and enjoyed great success after breaking into Guy Roux’s first team in the late 1980s. The defender was involved in the Burgundy club’s run to the UEFA Cup semi-finals in 1993 and their first ever Coup de France triumph the following year.
But he struggled to establish himself at Paris Saint-Germain after winning a move to the Parc des Princes in 1995 – playing home and away in a 4-0 aggregate triumph over Celtic in the second round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup were rare highlights from his only season in the capital – and a switch to Rennes the next season also failed to work out due to a devastating bereavement.
“It wasn’t a good time for me,” he said. “Shortly after I joined Rennes in July I lost my mother. It was a very bad start. But that whole season was very, very difficult for me. I was lucky that Celtic contacted me and asked me to join them. “To leave France and move to Scotland was the best thing for