“I was just outside Buckingham Palace,” Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor admits that one of the added responsibilities of being one of the more experienced players at Celtic is the need to appear at the media conferences more often that was the case in his earlier time at the club.

And when you think about it, it’s usually the likes of Callum McGregor, Cameron Carter-Vickers (somewhat reluctantly), Joe Hart, Alistair Johnston, Matt O’Riley and maybe Anthony Ralston are the other regulars at these weekly press events.

So many of the younger players, or the ones with language issues for such tasks, then it’s always going to be the core group who get sent out to answer the questions ahead of matches. Taylor is relaxed about it, he takes it fun his stride and turns it into a conversation about football.

Even the hacks seemed to enjoy the (just under) ten minute tussle today. here’s how it went with a great wee story linking Buckingham Palace with the joys of a Scotland call-up for the Euros, last time around. Fingers crossed for Greg, Anthony Ralston for this time, Calmac’s selection is surely a formality.

Q: You are in the Scotland squad. How important is that to you in terms of goals this season?

Greg Taylor: “Every time there is a national squad get-together and international games come around you want to be involved. This camp is no different and we know this is the last one before the Euro squad is announced. Hopefully, I can try and impress if given the opportunity.

Q: You have been asked many times about the competition for your place. How do you view your chances of being on the plane?

Greg Taylor: “All I can do is try and play well in every game that I am selected for my club. If that is enough to be on the plane in the Scotland manager’s eyes then brilliant. If it is not then so be it it is someone’s opinion.”

Q: You are doing well and playing well at a successful club but by virtue of playing in the position that you do then you might miss out on the Euros this summer. How difficult is that?

Greg Taylor:  “Of course, I understand that. I have understood that since I came through from the under-21s the opportunities for me in my position were going to be limited. I’ve got 13 caps already and every one of them I have loved. I never take it for granted because it has been difficult. I feel as if whenever I get the opportunity I try and do my best for my country. We’ll see where that takes us come the summer.

Q: The manager is loyal to the players who have served him well and we have seen that consistently during his time in charge. Is that one of the things that reassure you the most?

Greg Taylor:  “I think that has definitely helped the Scotland team in general and not just me personally. I think having that nucleus of players who are all pulling in the same direction and fighting for each other. It doesn’t matter who plays in each game we all want success for the nation. The manager has done really well at that. On a personal level, we have a great relationship. I had him at Kilmarnock and he did a lot for me in my career and he has improved me as a player. I am very grateful for that.

Celtic v Kilmarnock – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park Celtics Greg Taylor celebrates scoring his sides third goal during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday October 7, 2023. Photo Jane Barlow

Q: How much would it mean to you to be on that plane this summer?

Greg Taylor:  “It would mean everything, of course. I was lucky enough to go to the last Euros we qualified for but I didn’t play. It was a massive honour. When you get that text through and you realise you were going it was really special. It is something you want to happen again but I understand that it is not fully in your own control.”

Q: There is a lot that you can still achieve as a team at Celtic this season. If you are successful that can only help aid your chances of going to Germany this summer, can’t it?

Greg Taylor:  “It is important that your focus has to be where it is currently. We have a big game tomorrow and right now that is the most important and then you have a couple of weeks where you park it and the focus changes to the national team takes up your time. It will be an exciting run-in and hopefully, there will be success at the end of it.”

Q: Does it feel that we are getting to the business end of the season now?

Greg Taylor:  “Yes. We have only got nine league games left and hopefully two cup games and when it gets to this stage it is the business end.”

 Greg Taylor of Celtic interacts with Todd Cantwell of theRangers during the Scottish Cup Semi Final match between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 30, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Q: What kind of challenge are you expecting from St Johnstone? Do you think it will be similar to the last game here against Livingston?

Greg Taylor:  “I think they have been playing four more regularly but the last time we played them they played a back five. Maybe they will do that again tomorrow. We prepare for both ways and we are ready. We know that they will be desperate to try and win the game as well. We know we need to be right at it and start the game well.”

Q:How challenging has it been for you in the backline as there have been a lot of injuries? Is that difficult to adapt to?

Greg Taylor:  “Yes, it has. It is more difficult. You would rather have strong relationships and for them to be continuous. This season there has been a lot of chopping and changing in terms of injuries (myself included). I had a couple of weeks that I missed. I think that has been a frustration for all of us including the manager. It is one of the challenges of the season and one of the challenges of being a footballer. You’ve just got to form the new partnerships quickly and gel and take each game as it comes.”

Q: How big is this game? It is an opportunity to put pressure on your title rivals by getting back to the summit of the table.

Greg Taylor:  “I don’t think that is really important yet. We know that there are nine league games to go and the most important one is St Johnstone. We will try and take care of that and after the national team games the focus will be firmly back on Celtic and trying to strive for success.”

Q: Celtic have missed Callum McGregor and Cameron Carter-Vickers of late, you are one of the more vocal members of the squad, do you take more responsibility when they are not there? Do you talk players through games?

Greg Taylor:  “I don’t know if it is about taking more responsibility. I talk regularly as I am out there doing this every couple of games. I understand that it is part and parcel of being one of the more experienced ones and being here that wee bit longer you need to take on more roles and responsibilities. Hopefully, we can get those guys back sooner rather than later and we can all push in the one direction.”

Q: Do you see other quieter guys in the team puck up their voices when those guys are missing?

Greg Taylor:  “I think we spoke about it in the last game. That is important because we are missing Callum who is our captain and our leader. He is the most vocal and he speaks so well. Then you have Cameron who is a different type of leader and leads by example more with his performance. I think we understand that it is impossible to replace these guys but we need to help when they are gone.”

Q: Is that the challenge that the others set themselves to raise their standards because these other guys aren’t here?

Greg Taylor:  “I think they may do sub-consciously but it is also important to focus on your own role and do that to the best of your ability. Normally if every player does that then you will have good, collective success. You don’t want to be here, there and everywhere as you lose focus on what’s important and your own role within the game.”

 Greg Taylor of Celtic

Q: You said earlier that you got a text to inform you that you were going to the Euros. What did it say? What was that moment like?

Greg Taylor:  “It was from Frank Reilly who was involved with Scotland but he is not anymore. I remember I was in London and I knew the time was approaching for the squad to be named. I was just outside Buckingham Palace and I was strolling with the missus and I got the text through. It was probably relief more than anything because you are so keen to be there. When that came through it was a feeling of pure joy.”

Q: When it came through did you let out big screams of excitement?

Greg Taylor:  “There were no big screams as such. It was more of a feeling of relief. I think my partner was more shocked and thought ‘What’s going on there’? I explained that I was off to the Euros.”

Q: Did it just say ‘You’re in’?

Greg Taylor:  “Let’s check it as I think I have still got it on my phone. Here it is: ‘Hi guys, you are all included in the Scotland squad to be announced by Steve Clarke at 2:30 today. I will send the itinerary out shortly. There you go. I was panicking for a minute there but that is how we found out the last time I was called up for the Euros.”


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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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