Champions' League: Celtic fan Moyes backs old boy Gravesen to shine

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The Independent Football

David Moyes never has to worry about getting a ticket to see Celtic, even if it is 23 years since he left Parkhead. The Everton manager is a frequent visitor to his first club, but on Tuesday he could take his pick of people to ask a favour.

Celtic's Champions' League encounter with FC Copenhagen will see two former Goodison Park players in direct confrontation. In the green corner, Thomas Gravesen, a cult hero in the east end of Glasgow after his £2 million move from Real Madrid, his status underlined yesterday with a goal in Celtic's Old Firm victory. In the blue corner, Tobias Linderoth, whom Moyes sold to the Danish side two years ago. Moyes would have got down on bended knee to welcome Gravesen back to Merseyside but he knew Everton could not compete once Celtic entered the picture. The Everton manager believes that even the well-travelled Dane would only have truly grasped the bond between Celtic's players and supporters when he went out against Manchester United for the opening Group F match and heard 7,000 travelling fans lifting the roof off Old Trafford.

This time, it will be the turn of 60,000 voices to turn Parkhead into an intimidating arena. "You can be at Real or you can be at Everton, but to play at Celtic is a different level," said Moyes. Sadly, it was Gravesen who let his level drop in Manchester. His two mistakes led to goals for Louis Saha and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but Moyes, who was commentating for BBC Radio Scotland, felt that Celtic showed enough quality in the 3-2 defeat to raise confidence about establishing their own credentials in the group when they face Copenhagen and then Benfica.

"I thought Celtic did well against United," reflected Moyes. "They had a good record in Europe when Martin O'Neill was there and now the newer players have to match that. I think Celtic will find the games against Benfica and Copenhagen as hard - if not harder - than the game at Old Trafford, because Celtic know Man United."

Moyes believes that Gravesen can embrace the talismanic status at Parkhead of Henrik Larsson. "Celtic have signed Tommy and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink to make a real difference," said Moyes. "There are huge demands from the supporters. I am not saying that Tommy plays the same role as a Larsson, but he comes with a lot of that aura about him and Celtic supporters have been used to that."

It pained Moyes to lose Grave-sen to the lure of the Bernabeu. "He was terrific for me," he said. "I would have kept Tommy if we could and he knows that. No one knows better than me what he is capable of, and he will go on to create Celtic chances over the season. We were linked with him again in the summer but the honest truth is we couldn't afford to bring Tommy back."

Moyes did not put up quite the same fight to keep Linderoth at Goodison. He accepted just £1m after Euro 2004 for a player who had made just 31 starts at Everton after Walter Smith paid Stabaek £2.5m for him. However, Linderoth played a key role in Copenhagen's elimination of Ajax in the qualifying round and the opening-night draw with Benfica.

That night at Old Trafford prompted Gravesen to give up playing for Denmark. "Internat- ional travelling takes a lot out of you, not just physically but mentally," said Neil Lennon, who ret-ired from Northern Ireland five years ago. "Now Tommy wants to concentrate solely on Celtic."

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