Earlier this week, Emmy-award-winning filmmaker Jamie Doran was on a precarious journey into the mountains just outside the western city of Herat, Afghanistan, to meet the Taliban’s strongest military leader who controls most of Helmand, Kandahar and seven other provinces, Mullah Neazy.
Despite the seriousness of the occasion, his ‘guards’ wanted to speak about a matter of great importance to them: who did he think the next manager of Celtic is going to be. Doran and his cameraman from Madrid were flabbergasted. But it turns out that there is a major contingent of Celtic fans in the city which borders with Iran – one of the few things that unites the two warring sides.
“It was a pretty bizarre situation," said Jamie. "They seemed just like ordinary blokes in many ways, wanting to know which team I supported. They’d obviously spotted the Celtic top underneath my tunic and, when I confirmed this to them, they couldn’t stop talking about Odsonne Edouard, Scott Brown (“he is a very strong leader”) and a couple of other players. But the biggest topic was the new manager.
“They’d heard of Eddie Howe, but wondered why we weren’t going for someone more famous. I wasn’t about to disagree with them.” Jamie Doran's 'The Fans Who Make Football' series featured an episode about The Bhoys (below) with a strong focus on the Grand Old Team's Belfast supporters.
Doran’s journey with reporter Najibullah Quraishi and cameraman Miguel Landa Atero took him on a gruelling hill climb, passing twelve Taliban checkpoints before reaching their mountain base. The interview with famed Taliban veteran Neazy will be part of a documentary expected to broadcast end of May/early June.
“From what I could gather, their fascination with the club stems from the support Celtic fans have given to the Palestinian cause over the years. This is close to the heart of all Muslims and the backing from the Celtic diaspora has obviously struck a chord.”