Collins' Monaco move

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The Independent Online
John Collins jetted into the United States with Scotland's European Championship squad last night, having finalised his move from Celtic to Monaco as the first major British player to take advantage of the Bosman ruling.

The 28-year-old midfielder, who is expected to win his 32nd cap in Sunday's friendly against the Americans in New Britain, Connecticut, will formally sign for Monaco on 1 July, the day after the final. Collins has agreed a three-year contract, worth pounds 20,000 a week tax free. Celtic, who reportedly turned down offers of pounds 3m for the player from Everton, Chelsea and Middlesbrough last season, will receive nothing.

So far they have heard nothing either. "I only know what I have read in the papers because it has not yet been confirmed either way to me," Celtic's manager, Tommy Burns, said.

Collins, who joined Celtic from Hibernian six years ago after a move to Bordeaux collapsed because of the French club's financial difficulties, said: "The timing couldn't have been better for me because now I can concentrate 100 per cent on Scotland. I spoke to Monaco's manager, Jean Tigana, and he seemed desperate to get me - he'd spoken to Glenn Hoddle about me - and also very ambitious to win the championship.

"I'm happy that I've got a new challenge to look forward to, although sad to leave Celtic. It was my boyhood dream to play for them and I'll always treasure the big European nights. But 10 years in the Premier League has worn me down, playing each team four times a season."

He confirmed that the case of Jean-Marc Bosman, whereby out-of-contract players have effectively been granted freedom of movement between European countries without a transfer fee, had influenced his decision. "It made it an easier option and I'm very lucky in that respect - I've just taken advantage of it.

"But that isn't the only reason I'm going. The French League is very strong at the moment. Bordeaux reached the Uefa Cup final, yet they only finished 16th. Nantes got to the Champions' League semi- finals and came 12th, while Paris St-Germain won the Cup Winners' Cup after pipping Monaco to the runners-up spot."

Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, was delighted that Collins' future had been resolved before Euro 96. "It's a good move for us because they have a shorter fixture list in France. Players aren't as abused physically as they are in Britain, so he should be fresher when he plays for us."

Fresh was one thing the players were not feeling when they arrived in New York last night after a five and a half-hour delay at Glasgow airport caused by an engine failure.

After the game against the United States, Scotland move on to Miami for their final warm-up match against Colombia a week today. The games will be the last chance for Ally McCoist to prove his fitness after a calf injury. Dougie Freedman of Crystal Palace has been put on stand-by to replace the Rangers striker.