As the captain of a regular Champions' League side available on a free transfer, Jackie McNamara was something of a rarity. As a player whose word is still his bond, Wolverhampton Wanderers' newest recruit is footballing gold dust.
The Scotland international signed a two-year deal at Molineux yesterday after rejecting the tardy overtures from his former club Celtic to dissuade him from coming south to the Midlands.
The defendercummidfielder had been at Parkhead for the last ten years but had latterly become exasperated that the club he supported as a boy were inexplicably letting his contract run down and so last week he began negotiations with Glenn Hoddle and Wolves.
He then told his former employers on Monday night that he had made his mind up to leave Scotland and set in motion a frantic rearguard attempt to retain the services of a player who has come to be identified with the heart of the Glaswegian giants.
All through yesterday morning, as he travelled down to Wolverhampton to undergo a routine medical, he was bombarded by calls from the Scottish Cup winners urging him to think again.
But as he said himself after finalising his move to the Championship side: "I had made up my mind the night before and gave them my word. That was it for me, I was coming down here to sign."
That doesn't make saying goodbye any less painful. McNamara professed himself sad and disappointed that his love affair with Celtic had come to an end as he contemplated a new life in England.
"I expected to end my career at Celtic," he said. "I said all along that is the choice I would have made but they left it and left it. I gave them up until last night [Monday] but they did not come up with the offer I was looking for.
"I was after a two-year deal. Originally they were offering only one, they changed it to two but the timescale of things and the fact that Wolves really made me feel wanted were a big part of it for me.
"I think Celtic believed that I would sign. They gambled on my loyalty.
"It is disappointing that they didn't treat me a bit better but that's football. There are better players than me that have been treated worse. Maybe it's a good thing, as well, that I can have a fresh start and enjoy my football."
McNamara, who can play virtually anywhere in defence or midfield, becomes Glenn Hoddle's second major signing of the summer, after Rohan Ricketts joined from Tottenham Hotspur, also on a free transfer.
McNamara revealed that he was tempted by the opportunity of working with Hoddle and joining up with his international team-mates, Kenny Miller and Colin Cameron.
Wolves beat West Ham United and Wigan Athletic to the 31-year-old's signature and chief executive Jez Moxey didn't even try to conceal his delight.
"His career speaks for itself," said Moxey. "We were concerned that we had to move quickly because there are many slips 'twixt cup and lip in this game and there are a lot of clubs who are interested in signing quality players.
"As a Bosman player, being made available and us being able to persuade him to come here was a real coup for us. Glenn and I knew we had to move quickly.
"From what Darren [ Jackson, his agent] has said, Celtic had gone into overdrive to dissuade him from coming to Molineux, so there was a lot of interest from his club."
Moxey's sentiments are not hyperbole. McNamara was a hugely popular figure at Celtic, as shown by the fact that 53,000 people turned up to watch his testimonial against the Republic of Ireland a few weeks ago. But Celtic's bad luck is Wolves' good fortune.