Pierre van Hooijdonk clears up controversial Celtic exit

Celtic's Pierre van Hooijdonk celebrates

Despite success, the Dutchman's Parkhead spell lasted just two years.

Celtic's Pierre van Hooijdonk celebratesVan Hooijdonk playing for Celtic in a 2013 charity match

Pierre van Hooijdonk has cleared up his 1997 departure from Celtic in FourFourFwo magazine's August edition.

The controversial Dutchman left Parkhead to join Nottingham Forest in a £4.5 million deal just two years after his arrival from NAC Breda.

Pierre van Hooijdonk celebrates scoring for Nottingham ForestVan Hooijdonk celebrates scoring for Nottingham Forest

It followed a largely productive couple of seasons, in which he scored 52 goals in 84 Bhoys appearances. However, the relationship ended on a sour note, when Van Hooijdonk was said to have described the club's offer of a £7,000-a-week pay rise as being "good enough for the homeless, but not for an international striker".

It is a claim which Van Hooijdonk has vehemently denied, saying he never mentioned the word 'homeless' and simply meant the ordinary person.

And asked if he would change anything about his departure, the 46-year-old told FourFourTwo: "No. I had an agreement when I signed that if I did the business, the club would knock on my door very soon. But after the (Scottish) cup goal (in the final against Airdrie) and scoring a lot the year after, I didn’t hear anything.

Celtic's Pierre van Hooijdonk in action against RangersVan Hooijdonk in action against Rangers

"They said: 'Yes you can get more money if you extend your contract'. I said: 'That's not what we agreed.'

"After that they announced they’d doubled my wages. It was a great bit of PR, but double was only half of what the best players were getting. I just wanted to be up there where I belonged - with (Andreas) Thom, (Paolo) Di Canio and (Jorge) Cadete."

This led to Van Hooijdonk being banished to the reserves for a period and prompted him to discuss his options with then-Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink, who informed the striker he would only be selected for the following year's World Cup if he was playing regular football.

"I thought: If I have one chance of playing in the World Cup, it’s now," added Van Hooijdonk, who would go on to play for the eventual semi-finalists at France '98. "If I hadn’t been in the national team I probably would have stayed at Celtic longer."

Pierre Van Hooijdonk - Holland

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch