SEAN LAWRENCE thought life couldn’t get any better than scoring for Scotland in a World Cup final. But it just has —after he won the chance to train with his Celtic heroes. Midfield maestro Lawrence was the top man in the Tennent’s Could Have Been A Player? Match at Celtic Park.
He bagged a wonder goal and ran the show in a tireless man of the match display. His reward is a pre-season training stint with the Hoops first-team at their Lennoxtown training base. Celtic boss Neil Lennon revealed the special prize in a surprise pep-talk to the two teams, managed by Hoops heroes John Hartson and Tommy Johnson.
And Lawrence – who lifted the Homeless World Cup with Scotland in Paris last summer — rose to the occasion as Hartson’s Away team won a 5-3 thriller. The 20-year old supermarket worker from the Isle of Bute celebrated a perfect end to the best year of his life. He told SunSport: "The training session won’t be for a few months and I don’t think I’ll sleep before then."
“I can’t believe it. It’s amazing. And to be chosen as the Man of the Match by guys like John Hartson and Tommy Johnson is an honour. I’m a lifelong Celtic fan and I can’t wait to train beside the likes of Charlie Mulgrew and Scott Brown. It will be fantastic and it’s a dream come true at the end of an amazing year. I played at the Homeless World Cup for Scotland last summer and that was unbelievable, too. I got involved through Street Soccer Scotland and it was a brilliant experience from start to finish. We beat Mexico 4-3 in the final and I scored one of the goals. To play in Paris and win it was fantastic. That was only last August and a year later I’m going to be training with Celtic. It’s all a dream.”
Lawrence was a clear choice as man of the match in a game that saw a host of players shine. The midfielder recently had trials with St Johnstone and Stirling Albion and could play at a high level. But he insisted he wasn’t even at his best in the Parkhead challenge match. He said: "I felt I could have done a bit better. I normally play out wide but I was in the middle and it was a bit different for me. I’ve been playing amateur football now and then but it’s been hard combining it with work."
"I still want to play at as high a level as possible. It never worked out with St Johnstone or Stirling but I won’t give up. One of the coaches involved in this game has good contacts in junior football and asked for my number. Hopefully something will come of that. I’m really keen to sign for a team this season and push on. I’m not getting any younger and this might be one of my last chances to make a real go of it."
Johnson’s Home team were quicker out the traps and Gareth Coleman grabbed the opener in 10 minutes. The striker raced behind the Away defence and curled a classy finish into the top corner. The home side passed up several chances and Hartson’s Away side made them pay before half-time. Speedy winger Andrew Taggart found James Simpson and his shot nestled in the corner. Taggart made it 2-1 minutes before the break, lobbing keeper Sean Kerr from fully 30 yards.
The Home side were stunned and their fortunes didn’t improve after the break as Hartson’s men ran amok. The impressive Taggart produced a clinical finish to make it 3-1 after Simpson’s shot was blocked. Lawrence then took over with a sublime piece of skill, which saw him drift past three defenders and finish.
The red-headed midfielder celebrated by taking his top off but ref Kenny Clark resisted the temptation to book him. Lawrence said: “It’s up there with the best I’ve scored. I don’t usually take on so many players but it opened up and I finished it.” The Home side finally found their rhythm again and Coleman – heavily bandaged after suffering a head knock—grabbed his second with a quality finish. But the Away side saved their best to last as Andrew Bacon unleashed a left-foot volley into the top corner from 25 yards. Coleman completed his treble to make the score respectable, but the Away side were worthy winners.
By David Friel, The Scottish Sun