STALYBRIDGE Celtic have sent a get-well message to former player Connor Jennings who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Striker Jennings, 29, who is Celtic’s £100,000 club record transfer sale, hurt his shoulder after a fall while training with Stockport County.
After the pain persisted for several months, Jennings was sent for an MRI scan which discovered a suspected tumour in his upper arm.
Following subsequent biopsies, this has been confirmed as low-grade chondroid sarcoma which is a rare type of cancer.
Although the treatment plan and timings are still being discussed with medical experts, chondroid sarcoma can only be treated through surgery, but it has a good success rate.
Stockport said they are working with Jennings to ensure he gets all the support he needs during this difficult period through to his recovery.
Jennings progressed through Celtic’s youth team and went on to play 123 first team matches between 2009-12 with the team which was then in National League North.
He was transferred to Scunthorpe United for a club record £100,000 in 2012 and later starred for Wrexham and Tranmere Rovers.
Jennings was an FA Trophy runner-up with Wrexham and played in National League and League Two play-off finals for Tranmere.
He has also been capped once by England C, the national side for non-league players, scoring against Gibraltar.
Celtic chairman Rob Gorski admitted he knew Jennings was destined to have a successful career from the moment he joined the club’s academy aged 16.
He said: “Connor was young, shy and naive, however we could all tell immediately that he had not just immense talent, more importantly, he had a winner’s attitude. He was always busy, always industrious and that was before he stepped over the white line.
“Connor has an incredible energy and also a hunger to succeed. Yes, he scored many goals for Celtic and yes, he assisted in many more than he scored. However, it was his non-stop energy that made him stand out.
“He truly was the first line of defence. He closed down the opponent’s defenders and keeper and that resulted in us regaining possession and often scoring from his pressure. He tackled back. He covered so much ground and he was a real team player.”
Mr Gorski believes the sale of Jennings in January 2016 was the death-knell to the club’s hopes of promotion to the National League.
He explained: “In January, when we were second in the league and with games in hand on leaders Hyde, I sold him to Scunthorpe for a club record fee of £100,000. (The second highest was £15,000).
“That cost us promotion and we didn’t even make the play-offs that season. I regret it hugely as a Celtic fan and a board member. However, I would do exactly the same again. I could not stand in the way of Connor’s career.
“What most fans do not know is that I actually had Barry Fry at Championship side Peterborough all over me like a cheap suit and he would have matched Scunthorpe’s offer and, very significantly for me, Barry promised me that he would loan Connor back to me for the remainder of the season to get us promoted back in to the Conference National.
“Regrettably, Connor’s father (fairly) thought that he would have a better chance to play first team football in League One than in the Championship and he ended up at Glanford Park.
“I was shocked and saddened to hear of Connor’s diagnosis. However, I very much hope that the same tenacity he showed as a player will help him overcome this dreadful disease and that he can make a swift and complete recovery.”