'Heartbroken' Hartson misses Celtic's big night
Monday 19 May 2003
John Hartson flew out to Spain with his Celtic team-mates yesterday morning despite being forced onto the sidelines for the Uefa Cup final against Porto on Wednesday.
The Welsh international striker was finally ruled out of the game in Seville on Saturday due to a slipped disc suffered in the Premier League win at Rangers on April 27. He said: "I will give the lads my support and the most important thing is for them to win. I'm heartbroken but knew it was coming when the injury was not responding to treatment."
The Hoops' manager, Martin O'Neill, believes the fact that Hartson has already played in a European final, Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Real Zaragoza in the 1995 Cup-Winners' Cup, may offer some comfort.
"He has played in a European final before, so he will draw some consolation from that," O'Neill said. "But, at this stage, it is a massive blow and bad news all round."
Some derogatory remarks emanating from the Porto camp should help fire up Hartson's team-mates – the Porto coach Jose Mourinho said he is already planning for the European Super Cup – and Porto's strikers Edgaras Jankauskas and Nuno Capucho laid claim to a final starting place with goals in the 3-2 win over Varzim on Saturday. With Helder Postiga suspended, the pair hope to start alongside Derlei Silva in Seville.
The Lithuanian Jankauskas opened the scoring in the 12th minute before Capucho doubled the lead with a volley. Mourinho rested Derlei for the game and also substituted both Jankauskas and Capucho. Porto have already secured the Portuguese title.
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