Celtic’s Next Captain: “It’s come full circle in that sense so now we have to take up the mantel”

Callum McGregor certainly spoke like the Captain-in-Waiting at his media conference yesterday ahead of today’s curtain closer on a miserable season for Celtic. If the midfielder, who was suspended for the midweek match against St Johnstone after receiving a red card at Ibrox, is planning a summer move then he did a tremendous job disguising it yesterday.

McGregor plays things with a straight bat though and one thing we can take from his latest media conference is that his mind has already moved forward to the re-build that is coming and he is aware of the increased responsibility that will be on his shoulders and those of James Forrest, as these two Celtic academy graduates become the senior players in the new-look Celtic that is about to be built by Eddie Howe.

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Scott Brown’s shoes are going to be hard to fill but McGregor has shown – perhaps to his own detriment – over the past few years that he is willing to give everything for the club, play anywhere and in pretty much every game. Howe would be well advised to consider the best place to play his captain in the team and it might not be as a holding midfielder (just saying Eddie).

Brown’s departure – probably for a few years before he’s back tooled up in the management game – is beginning to sink in at Lennoxtown and among the support. What a player, what a leader, what a legend Scott has been for Celtic. No-one appreciates that more than Callum McGregor who has the job of filling those boots.

“The boys have been giving him wee gifts and saying thanks this week so it’s been a nice atmosphere,” McGregor told the media. “We’ll hugely miss him around the building because he’s such a huge presence and a great friend. He’s always up for a laugh and it’ll certainly be a quieter place without him.

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Photo: Andrew Milligan

“It’s going to be strange without him. He’s been here my full career at Celtic and is someone I look up to. It’s a sad thought but at the same time football move on and you have to adapt. It’s going to be a strange one for the first few days when we come back and it’s quieter than normal.”

On the responsibility that now passes to his shoulders McGregor seems prepared for the challenge and believes he now has the necessary experience to succeed.

“Experience is really vital in football. We have a good core of players who have experience winning trophies and playing at a high level whether that be Champions League or Europa League.

“Scott has passed on all that experience and it’s up to us to take that and pass it on to the younger guys and, hopefully, be as good a role model as Scott’s been for us. It’s come full circle in that sense so now we have to take up the mantel.

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Photo: Andrew Milligan

“When you work with a guy as intense as Scott you notice his standards are brilliant on and off the pitch. You can’t help but learn from him and it’s infectious. He’s been a great role model for me and someone I’ve leaned on massively in the last couple of years. I feel like we have a good relationship on and off the pitch and it’s up to make to take that into my future career as well.”

Today’s game is the last time ever we’ll get to see Scott Brown leading Celtic out and wearing that armband. For that reason alone it’s well worth giving Hibs TV their PPV fee.

Here’s Callum McGregor’s excellent Mainstream Media conference…

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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