• Big test for big Victor Wanyama Mugabe.. and he passed

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Oct 02, 2011-

Victor Wanyama looks a cult hero in the making.

The big Kenyan came through a big test with flying colours. He really did impress me helping to protect the defence with his hulking presence in front of Daniel Majstorovic and Charlie Mulgrew. I have to be honest and confess I knew next to nothing of the big lad when he signed in the summer from the Belgian side Germinal Beerschot.

And until Thursday night we'd only really seen fleeting glimpses of him. But this was a genuine opportunity to study his credentials for Celtic. And I'm happy to declare he'll do for me. Wanyama was powerful in the tackle and got about the pitch well.

He was determined to break up Udinese's play and he did that more often than not. I've always had a high regard for Italian teams. You rarely find a poor one on the European stage. And even with a well-publicised weaker team I thought Udinese looked a talented bunch. So Wanyama had to be on his game. He can be proud of his efforts.

I believe he requested the number 67 jersey as a tribute to the Lisbon Lions. A nice touch, I must say. But I'll just settle for consistent performances of the standard he showed .

I don't know if Wanyama will have done enough to persuade Neil Lennon to keep him in the team for Sunday's game against Hearts at Tynecastle.

But he has now proved he can be trusted and that's a big plus. There were big question marks against the Celtic defence going into the tie. Like Wanyama, I felt they responded impressively.

They were composed and played it well from the back. Neil made several changes, notably Lukasz Zaluska in goal and Mulgrew in beside Majstorovic. Both earned credit. Zaluska made several vital saves while Mulgrew's decision-making and timing was first class.

He also came close with a couple of free kicks. It was upsetting to see Udinese get such an undeserved late equaliser. Celtic played ever so well. They can take so much from this going into the rest of the season, starting at Tynecastle. Only the keeper prevented Celtic from winning by a decent margin. He was marvellous.

And in the end Celtic were only a few minutes away from achieving a big European win. I was pleased for Neil too. There's always big pressure as Celtic manager but he's dealing with it well. His side showed real quality and desire which bodes well for the rest of the campaign.


Adapted from the Sun by Billy McNeill



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