One of the positives from yesterday’s 2-2 draw at Ibrox was the performance of new signing Alistair Johnston who sparkled on his Celtic debut and looks set to retain his place in the team this weekend against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park.
Speaking to Celtic TV after the match, the Canada international right-back was buzzing after being thrown into such a huge match by Ange Postecoglou. “It’s the one that every single footballer dreams of,” Ally said.
“You want to go in and play the biggest matches, and there’s not really a bigger match than that in the entire world of football. That’s right up there with the atmosphere, the intensity, the passion from both fanbases – it was immense.
“And though it wasn’t the result we wanted in the end, we’re happy that we were able to get something out of it at the end and send our fans home with something to hold on to,” Celtic’s fifth World Cup star stated.
Johnston also revealed that he didn’t tell his family back home in Canada that he was going to be starting against theRangers.
“I knew my family have been going a little too crazy if I let them know that I was starting, so I wanted them to wake up at 7am over there to check their phones and see me in the starting line-up and let them enjoy that moment and let me focus on the match.
“So we’ll see what they have to say but, again, I think they’ll be pretty excited for me and obviously happy with seeing their son, seeing their brother out there.
“It was an unbelievable experience and once you get a little bit of that taste, you just want more so I can’t wait for the next match already.”
After a brilliant start with Daizen Maeda scoring inside five minutes, Celtic fell behind early in the second half before Kyogo scored a late equaliser to earn a well deserved draw that is a much better result for Celtic than for the trailing Ibrox side who had hoped to reduce Celtic’s nine points lead at the top of the league.
While it was not the best performance from Celtic the result is what’s important and now attention will turn to the weekend’s first match of the New Year at Celtic Park. And Johnston was impressed by the way Celtic never stopped believing despite going 2-1 down in the Glasgow Derby.
“I think it comes down to, first of all, belief from every single player, and from the coaching staff,” he said. “They just instill that in the players, and also just the leaders on the field. We’re never settling.
“Even when we scored that second one, the older lads were saying, we’ve got to push for another one. And as the younger players and newer players in the group coming through, when you see that drive and hunger to constantly pick up three points in every single match, and that drive to say it’s not over until it’s over, it just fills you with that confidence and that belief that anything is possible.
“It’s another late goal and it’s kind of a trademark of this team, that we have that ability, no matter how difficult the match is, no matter how many people are behind the ball, that we’re always going to create that next chance, there’s always going to be another one and yet again we’ve proved it on the biggest stage.”
Johnston had words of praise for the hardy bunch of Celtic supporters who entered the most hostile, hateful arena in Scottish football to support the team, and he can’t wait to play in front of 60,000 Celtic fans this weekend.
“Even just the 750 here today, there was unbelievable noise, unbelievable passion. You can just see what it means to them – every goal, every tackle – so to think about playing in front of 60,000 at Celtic Park is pretty cool,” Johnston said.
“I’ve actually been able to experience a couple of them now, being up in the players’ lounge watching them, but to be out there, hopefully on the field or on the bench, it’ll be that next level that every player aspires to be a part of, and it’ll be a dream come true for myself.”
One of the comments on Ally Johnston’s debut at Ibrox: “This boy is a player. Thrown into a derby away from home in your first game and not making a mistake is brilliant. Over the moon for him putting in a good performance.”