Every football club has its celebrity fans, often with tenuous links and a less than impressive attendance record. But there are also genuine, dyed-in-the-wool supporters who just happen to be celebrities. Jim Kerr has his feet planted firmly in the latter camp.
The 55-year-old has been the lead singer of Simple Minds since 1977 and, almost four decades later, is still to be found touring and recording albums. Yet his love affair with Celtic predates that musical adventure by over a decade and has remained just as constant. In the late 1990s, Kerr even fronted an unsuccessful attempt to buy his beloved club, and six years later would be found recording a song with Jimmy Johnstone, the Bhoys' greatest-ever player.
This passionate fan will again hit the road with Simple Minds next month, playing old favourites such as 'Don't you forget about me' and 'Alive and kicking' on a tour that, not for the first time, begins in Lisbon. This, of course, is the city in which Celtic became European champions, and that 1967 triumph was among several subjects discussed by Kerr as he reflected on his experiences as a supporter and the candidates for this year's FIFA Ballon d'Or award.
FIFA.com: Jim, most boys grow up dreaming of being in a band or becoming a footballer. Were you always set on the former?
Jim Kerr: My thought was, 'I'll do music first and give the football a go later'. In my head, that's still the plan!
And how did you become a Celtic fan?
I had no choice in the matter really. Like most boys in Glasgow, I was taken along to games by my father as a wee boy and I grew up with Celtic surrounding me. The club's been with me and part of me ever since.
Tell us about the first Celtic game you attended: a 4-1 win over Manchester United in 1966.
It was just amazing. People talk about the atmosphere at Celtic Park these days, and I take great pride in hearing many of the world's greatest players saying they've never experienced anything like it. But back then it was even better. The crowd was more animated, the songs were non-stop, and for a boy of six or seven standing in the Jungle (Celtic's famously atmospheric stretch of terracing), I was just awestruck. And then there was the team on the park - a side with so much style and swagger. It was a fantastic combination and that game, friendly or not, was very competitive against a superb United team with [Denis] Law, [Bobby] Charlton, George Best and the rest. It also came very shortly after Charlton and a few of those other United players had won the World Cup with England, and yet Celtic were so obviously better than them.
But as well as the team played that day, I don't think anyone there could have envisaged the success that was to come over that season - or over the next decade. The club had just come out of a long, lean period of finishing in mid-table and winning nothing. But I was lucky in that my timing was perfect. I grew up in the greatest Celtic era there has ever been, with nine straight league titles, two European Cup finals and many more quarter and semi-finals. It was such an exciting time. Growing up with the Beatles, the first man on the moon and, above all, with Celtic, I couldn't have had it any better.
Although that United game was your first taste of Celtic Park, it wasn't the first football match you attended. You had already experienced the World Cup by that point, hadn't you?
That's right. My dad happened to be working in the north-east of England during the summer of 1966, so he took me along to watch the Soviet Union play North Korea at Roker Park in Sunderland. We'd been staying nearby in Whitley Bay and I remember my mum saying to my dad, who was a real socialist, 'You're just going to cheer on those Commies!' My big memory of it was seeing Lev Yashin. He was seen as the ultimate goalkeeper back then and I remember seeing him all decked out in black, looking pretty majestic. It was all very exciting.
Growing up with the Beatles, the first man on the moon and, above all, with Celtic, I couldn't have had it any better.
A year later, you'd be watching on TV as Celtic won the European Cup by beating Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon. What do you remember about that experience?
I remember so much about it. My teacher at the local school was called Miss Kelly and she was pretty fearsome. But I remember that day when were saying our prayers, Bernard Rudden - who's still one of my best pals - spoke up and said, 'Miss Kelly, can we say a prayer for Celtic in Lisbon?' And she just looked up and said, 'Of course, Rudden'. So the prayers were said and, better still, we were all given the afternoon off school to watch the game. I remember all my family coming round to our house to watch the game and having a sense even then that something extra-special was taking place.
I had never seen people celebrate to the extent they did that day. I remember the pride above all, but also the fear when Inter scored that early goal. And it seemed for a long time, as we pummelled and pummelled them, that the ball just wasn't going to go in. But once we equalised, I knew we'd win it. Simple Minds actually started our last world tour in Lisbon and, as a Celtic fan, there was no way I could be there without visiting the Estadio Nacional. These days, it's only used once a year and it just sits there the rest of the time. But when we asked the security guard if we could take a look at the pitch, his first question was, 'Are you Scottish?' When we told him we were, he let us in and, miracle upon miracles, there was a ball just sitting there on the pitch. So, needless to say, on we went and had a kick-about, trying to recreate the goals.
You once recorded a song with one of those European Cup-winning Lisbon Lions, Jimmy Johnstone, who finished third in the Ballon d'Or voting in 1967. What was that experience like?
Fantastic. I remember Jimmy telling me, 'Big man, right, I've got the song'. I said, 'Great! What is it?' And he says, 'Bon Jovi - Bed of Roses!' I told him there was no chance, that it had to be something timeless. But he gave us a rendition that, I have to say, was fantastic. All the same, we went with 'Dirty Old Town' and I really love his version. It was great to do it with him and, needless to say, he blew me out of the park.
I was reading that you took one of your more famous pals, Bono, to an Old Firm derby during the 1980s. What did he make of it?
I remember him saying that it was like something from ancient Rome, and that's probably not far wrong. I have a memory of somebody being stretchered round the park in front of a baying mob and it was one of those kind of atmospheres. But then it's that kind of game. A corner gets the kind of cheer a hat-trick would somewhere else. And the pals I've introduced to the Old Firm game love it. The intensity is something that people relish.
You and Bono were also involved in a failed takeover attempt at Celtic in the 1990s. Were you disappointed that didn't succeed?
Certainly not in hindsight. The right thing happened in the end because the fans took the initiative and now own a large percentage of the club. We were serious about it, but in retrospect I'm not sure it would have been the best thing had it come off.
What do you make of the current situation in Scottish football, with Rangers out of the top flight since being liquidated in 2012?
I think it's looking pretty bleak. The axis of the Scottish game, like it or not, revolves around Celtic and Rangers. You'll have plenty of Celtic fans who say they don't miss Rangers at all, but the truth is there's an edge missing now and crowds have dropped as a result. Empty seats don't lie.
You still go along to Celtic Park and were there to watch them beat Barcelona in the Champions League a couple of years ago. What was that experience like?
It was fantastic. I was there with my dad and had taken along my son, who likes Celtic but has grown up in London and is more of an Arsenal fan than anything. But he had never experienced anything like it. We were in with the crowd, we weren't in any of the fancy seats, and it was where you would have wanted to be. I thought it was just fantastic that, at the same time Barcelona were bringing David Villa and Cesc Fabregas off the bench, we were throwing on this local boy (Tony Watt). And doesn't that teenage boy score the winner. That goal was like slow motion, but as he went through I just knew that he was going to do it.
Lionel Messi scored Barcelona's consolation goal that night and he's in the running for the FIFA Ballon d'Or this year with Manuel Neuer and Cristiano Ronaldo. Who would you go for?
I must admit, I wouldn't have gone for any of the three of them. They're all wonderful players but I felt Gareth Bale deserved to be in there. I do love Messi though, and what I love about him is that, beyond the obvious skill, there seems to be a humility that isn't there with Ronaldo. Those two are obviously the dominant players just now and it's difficult to see Neuer getting close to them. But if there's one guy who I feel could do it in years to come, it's Bale. I find him very exciting to watch. Suarez also has a chance. I can't help but like him - he's definitely punk rock!
On 19 January, Caroline International will release ‘Let The Day Begin’, the second single to be taken from Simple Minds’ top-15, critically acclaimed 16th album, 'Big Music'.