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Celtic legend, known as ‘The Mighty Atom’, Irish international Patsy Gallacher was barely 5 feet 4 inches and 7 stones when he played his first senior game in 1911. He soon gained a reputation as a complete footballer, renowned for his tactical vision and dribbling skills.
Gallacher was born in the workhouse at Ramelton in March 1891, the son of poor Irish parents who later emigrated to Clydebank in Scotland when he was three years old. On leaving Our Holy Redeemer School in Clydebank in 1906, Gallacher was apprenticed as a carpenter in John Brown’s shipyard where he continued to work until 1918.
Gallacher began his football career in 1907 with Renfrew St James, and then moved to Clydebank Juniors in June 1910. He signed for Celtic in October 1911 and made his debut for the club on 2 December of that year in a 3-1 home victory over St Mirren. Gallacher went on to make a total of 464 appearances for the club, scoring 196 goals. Such was his value to the team that the club allowed him to own a public house while still a player, a privilege denied to other team members. He was also paid substantially more than others in the team, although the exact details were never made public.
During those 15 years, he won seven league championships and four Scottish Cups, and he is famously remembered for the ‘somersault’ goal he scored against Dundee in the 1925 Scottish Cup final which is now part of Celtic folk legend. It began with a mazy dribble in which a variety of tricks took him through a thick wall of opponents until, when it looked as though he would lose possession, he fell backwards with the ball held between his feet and somersaulted into the net.
In October 1926, Celtic manager Willie Maley, believing that Gallacher was past his prime, sold him to Falkirk. He went on to play another six seasons before retiring on 30 April 1932.
After his retirement, he concentrated on his business interests: these included a wine and spirit shop and The International bar in Clydebank. Two of his sons went on to play professional football, Willie for Celtic and Tommy for Dundee. Gallagher died in June 1953 at the age of 62. Rangers legend Alan Morton once declared: 'There never was a player like him, and I often wonder if we shall see his like again. I wish we could, just to show the present day players that we of Patsy Gallacher's time had something to boast about.'