He believed he, Fergus McCann and a handful of others were the men to pull the club back from the brink, and put them on the path to glory.
The successful Irish businessman - now the club's major shareholder - readily handed over the £4million suggested by McCann, and underwrote £4m more to give the platform he believed was needed.
His cool head has helped his investments return many millions, but Desmond admits to just one motive for putting money into the ailing Hoops.
"It was saving Celtic," he explained. "Fergus was saving Celtic. I wasn't really aware of all the intricacies going on between the various families and factions.
"But Fergus went in there - I'd say as a neutral - coldly and hard, and wanted to do the best for Celtic and its fans.
"I saw that and believed in that, and it was easy for me then to look at it on that basis and to support him."
McCann did as he promised, rebuilding Celtic's stadium and finances, then selling his stake and leaving.
But Desmond is still a key figure and it is the emotional attachment that brought him to the club that binds him to it today. He told the club website: "Celtic is an emotional investment.
"At the same time, you don't want to be throwing money at emotional investments as you could go broke pretty quickly doing that.
"So I looked upon it as creating a solid financial platform for Celtic, in conjunction with Fergus and the other board members."