Callum McGregor Welcomes Mental Break Of Lockdown

Callum McGregor played more minutes of football than any other professional in Europe lasts season. The midfielder played 69 games for club and country, with just 12 days of rest in the summer, before restarting.

An ever-present, McGregor never seems to be substituted or given a break, until this enforced situation. Yet it’s not the physical aspect that the 26 year old is enjoying, but rather the break from the mental stresses of professional football.

“The mental break is welcome, when you’ve been playing close to 70 games for the last three or four seasons,” the Scottish international said.

McGregor has been keeping himself physically fit with a home gym, which he installed less than 24 hours before the lockdown was imposed. “Physically, you need to stay in good condition. That never stops but training in the gym isn’t the same as playing,” he explained. “European games, semi-finals, finals, massive league games. That’s a different challenge. You are playing sport at elite level and at Celtic you always have to win. A draw is a bad result and a defeat is a disaster. You need to programme your brain to go again every three days. You have to play, win and play well.”

Football has been halted for several weeks now, with Celtic closing in on the title and a fourth consecutive treble. The break comes at a bad time in the eyes of many fans, but McGregor explains that “The one benefit from football being suspended at the moment is that you do get a longer break, mentally.”

Having said that, it’s a balance between rest and the itch to get back to action.

McGregor continued: “I can only speak for myself, but I am already desperate to get back and it might reignite the spark in some players. We have had a mental break, we have missed football so much and you might get that extra five or ten percent. When you get to the stage when you have played 70 games for seasons in a row, you go into a mental state.

“You know more games are coming in a few days and with 20 minutes to go, you maybe come off it slightly, but you’ll see a lot of refreshed players when football returns. There will be guys running 15km a game!”

Celtic’s fitness staff have set players challenges and training programmes to keep in shape ahead of any return to action. The young midfielder described what it’s like to be locked down as a professional athlete: “It can be quite difficult to find areas outside to train, but I now have a gym in my house. It was quite fortunate timing as it got put in just two days before football was called off.

“I decided to do it to help with my recovery-based work as as that’s important when you are playing three games a week. I got the flooring down and got some nice equipment that does all the stuff I do in the Lennoxtown gym. I’ve got a rowing machine, a treadmill and a Keiser bike, so I had everything there.

“My plan was just to use that for recovery, but it’s now come in handy. It was put in on the Thursday that week and by the Friday, everything had been suspended, so it was good timing and it’s been pretty useful over the last six weeks.”

Aside of the hard work on the treadmill and rowing machine etc, Callum McGregor has even been strict with his daily routines. “I am staying away from Netflix during the day,” he said. “I watch some TV at night but I don’t want to spend all my time on the couch. Killing Eve was the last programme I watched. I did the first two seasons and it was decent. The Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls documentary on Netflix – The Last Dance – is next on my list. I’ll stick that on soon and I am keeping myself busy doing other things, when I am not in the gym.”

The Daily Record interview closed with a hint to the future for McGregor: “I bought myself a laptop and I have started collecting all the information from the last four years of my career. I am looking at training sessions and coaching ideas. I have the time right now, so I felt it would be good to do that. I have taken in a lot of information in the last few years and I am hoping to put it all in a document.

“I am just trying to keep my mind busy with different things. Coaching probably is something I will look to get into one day as I like the tactical side of football. I like thinking about players’ positions and how the team functions within certain systems. I have picked up a lot of good information over the years and I want to try and take as much of that in as possible.

“If I can process it all, I can then learn how to implement it. That’s a long way away, I am totally focused on my playing career but during a period like this I want to take the chance to frame it all in my mind.”


The Celtic Star’s very own Matt Corr – who you may also know as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park – publishes his first Celtic book, titled INVINCIBLE – early next month. This beautiful hardback book will be the definitive story of Celtic’s magical2016-17 season – it truly is wonderful, a real joy to read, and brilliantly written by Matt.

If you have been reading Matt’s regular contributions on The Celtic Star or indeed in the Matchday Programme or in the Celtic View you will know just how talented a Celtic writer he is. The book is published by The Celtic Star and you can pre-order below.

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About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

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