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From Russia With Love
Celtic View
From Russia With Love
Joe Sullivan
12 September 2005
 
WHEN Jeff Healey and Jamie Doran produced Jimmy Johnstone’s Lord of the Wing DVD they could little have realised that icons evoking images of Tsarist Russia would end up on show inside Celtic Park…
 
But now, thanks to the amazing generosity of two Celtic-daft guys, Tony Wyber and Abdul Aziz, thousands of Bhoys’ supporters will have the opportunity to view Jimmy Johnstone’s exclusive Faberge eggs when they take pride of place in Paradise.
 
ABDUL AZIZ with the unique Jimmy Johnstone Faberge egg
 
The story started when Sarah Faberge, great-granddaughter of Carl Faberge, the Russian Royal Court Jeweller, was inspired by Jinky's incredible strength and courage in fighting Motor Neurone Disease after watching his film, Lord of the Wing.

The designer said at the launch in the House of Commons in June: “I am not a big football fan, but wanted to do something to help. “He was inspirational as a footballer and now he is inspiring people as he battles his illness. People admire him for different reasons now.”

Jinky is the first living person since the Tsars and Tsarinas of Russia to have one designed and the only Westerners previously to receive such an honour were Admiral Nelson and Thomas Jefferson, both posthumously.
A limited edition of 19 eggs to match his winners' medals - including the European Cup - were hand-crafted and offered at £10,000 each to help Jimmy in his determination to beat the disease.

However, in acts of incredible generosity, both Tony Wyber and Abdul Aziz have gifted the Faberge eggs they shelled out £10,000 each for to the Celtic Visitors’ centre. Tony And Abdul were guests of the club at Saturday’s game against Aberdeen but this story started away back in December of last year and the first to react to the news about the eggs was Dumbarton postmaster, Abdul.

He recalled “I just opened my shop like any normal day, just happened to flick through the newspapers and one had mentioned that Sarah Faberge was going to make an egg in honour of Jimmy Johnstone.
“I just thought that’s nice and put the paper away, but then I opened another paper and it was in that as well but with a phone number this time.

“This was in December and it was that early there wasn’t even daylight yet but I phoned the number thinking I’ve got to get one of these, it’s a limited edition Faberge egg for Jimmy Johnstone and Celtic.

“I knew it was too early but when I eventually got through I tried to buy No.7 but it had been pre-ordered so I said, just give me any number then. Basically, I had to make my mind up there and then – and explain to my wife what I had done later!

“So I still didn’t believe I had actually got one until I got the certificate through the post but now I’m really, really chuffed.”

Abdul was obviously quick off the mark, considering he hadn’t actually seen what he was bidding £10,000 for (money that was supposed to be going to the deposit on a house!).
He said: “The vision in my mind was of the old St Petersburg collections from the days of the Tsars but all I really knew that there were only going to be 19 exclusive Sarah Faberge eggs and that this was really important.
“At the time I felt really privileged because I knew this was going to be part of history, so I’m really humbled to have been part of it and Bertie Auld, who is here on Jimmy Johnstone’s behalf, told me that Jinky is really grateful for what I’ve done.
“So just to think that the great Jinky Johnstone has mentioned my name or even knows about me makes it worth every penny.

“I’m just grateful I really am, being a lifelong supporter just having a chance to be a part of a little bit of history is just great. It’s every football fan’s dream in a sense.”

The only problem then was where to keep it, as it’s hardly the sort of ornament you stuff the light bill behind on the mantelpiece. Abdul carried on: “At first I thought, ‘what am I going to do with it?’ I couldn’t keep it my house in a showcase and I didn’t want to put it in a bank vault. So I thought, what I need to do is put it somewhere where everyone can see it and my brother Rashid had mentioned asking Celtic Football Club if they could possibly keep it for us.

“So I phoned up and Maura McColgan from the Celtic Visitors’ Centre very kindly said yes so really it’s a double whammy. “I’ve got a Faberge egg and it’s in Celtic Football Club with my name underneath it - so it just keeps getting better and better.

“Even before I got the egg I met Martin O’Neill in the House of Commons and the Lisbon Lions in Glasgow so…you couldn’t buy that. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride and I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground and concentrate on my life since last December.”

He added: “I try not to refuse any kind of charity and this was really just an honour to help Jimmy Johnstone in a tiny way. “In all honesty I wasn’t really thinking about that aspect when I first bought the egg but later on it sunk in that I was helping fight Motor Neurone Disease.”

And on the Wee Man himself, Abdul spoke for thousands of us as he said: “I tried thinking back to when I was a kid and I tried to remember if I’d actually watched him at Celtic Park or Hampden and I honestly think the only Lisbon Lion I saw play in the flesh was Bobby Lennox.

“So when I was a kid and we were playing in the park, I was Jimmy Johnstone as I knew of Jimmy Johnstone. “He was the complete package, he was everything that it means to be a Celt and he’s an everyday guy, an absolute world-class player, a Celtic legend and voted the Greatest Ever Celt – words fail me.”



JINKY’S team-mate and lifelong buddy Bertie Auld represented the Wee Man when Tony and Abdul, along with families and friends met at Celtic Park when the Faberge eggs made their first appearance. And Bertie was truly amazed at the intricate artwork put into the pieces.

He said: “The only thing is, with this in the house you wouldn’t put on the telly, you would just sit and look at this, it’s a work of art and everybody should be able to see it.

“And thanks to Tony and Abdul, Celtic supporters will be able to have the opportunity to see these fantastic eggs.

“It’s a wonderful gesture from both these guys and Jimmy himself is over the moon at their generosity.”
The Lisbon Lion added: “A lot of Jimmy’s character is in this so the designer must have known an awful lot about him.

“The medals are there for all to see but there are aspects reflecting the corrugated roof of the old Jungle and the mining community that Jimmy came from.

“ The miniature of Jimmy is so like him, the pose and the balance – the height! The only thing wrong with it is that the ball is too far away from him - Jimmy never let the ball get that far from him.

“One of the kids here asked me if I played with Jimmy, I said sometimes but I mostly watched him!

“But he had this perfect balance and even though this is made of gold, I look at it and, being lucky enough to have played with Jimmy so many times, I just see it as him.”

THE Faberge family fled France after the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685 and some members later settled in Russia where Peter Carl Faberge was born in 1846 and eventually inherited his father’s jewellery workshop.
Easter is the most important feast of the Russian Orthodox church calendar and in 1884 the Faberges produced a gold and diamond egg for the Tsar to present to the Tsarina Maria and it then became an annual tradition.

Aside from the Jimmy Johnstone tribute, Faberge also found themselves back in the limelight recently when a plot to steal one was the basis of the recent Hollywood blockbuster Ocean’s Twelve.
Faberge only produce between five and 15 designs a year and all of those are in small limited edition numbers which means they sell for great amounts of money whether new or second-hand. Frankie Birkenstein, a company spokesperson said: “We are limited in how
many we produce each year by how many our craftsmen can make.

"There is growing interest in what we produce from collectors and investors. There is also a waiting list of people wanting to buy items second-hand when they become available..

"People buy our eggs for a number of reasons, including investment reasons.”

The original pre-Bolshevik revolution eggs sell for millions of pounds, and even later creations have seen their value rise sharply.
 
ABDUL AZIZ with the unique Jimmy Johnstone Faberge egg
Source: Celtic View
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